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If nothing changes between now and National Signing Day, Lafayette outside linebacker Cheyton Pine will make the transition from Ram to Panther.
Pine, who just finished his junior year, verbally committed to play football at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday night after drawing interest from major Division I football programs over the past three months.
“[Pittsburgh linebacker Coach Rob] Harley and the early playing time got to me,” Pine said about some of the deciding factors when committing to Pittsburgh. “Honestly, it just felt right having one of the best medical programs, which I want to major in. It was the best opportunity and decision for me.”
The rising Lafayette senior took his first visit to Pittsburgh during the first weekend of June. While touring the campus and facilities, Pine came away impressed enough to warrant a verbal commitment Monday evening.
Pine, who wants to major in sports medicine, specifically cited a feeling of closeness to the Pittsburgh coaching staff and feeling like he was “home.”
“As soon as I got there, every coach was talking to me like I’d been there plenty of times,” Pine said. “I felt like I was at home when I got there. The campus was amazing and I didn’t even get to see all of it. I like the city part of the school, so there’s definitely that.”
Another reason for Pine committing to Pittsburgh is the availability of playing time. Pine, who projects as an outside linebacker in college, was told by Pittsburgh coaches he could come in and compete for early playing time after the Panthers signed two linebackers in their 2015 recruiting class.
“I feel like competition gives the team a better feeling when you have two guys putting it all in for one position,” Pine said.
Pine let Pittsburgh coaches know of his decision Sunday night, but not before the Panthers coaching staff was tipped off about his decision beforehand.
“I called [Harley] and he said ‘Are the rumors true?’ I was like ‘Yes sir, they are.’ He said ‘I’m glad for you to be a Pittsburgh Panther.'”
After receiving early offers from smaller Division I football programs like Toledo University, the University of Buffalo and Old Dominion University, Pine began seeing major programs throw scholarship offers his way.
Some of the biggest programs to extend scholarship offers to Pine were the University of Georgia, Pittsburgh, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, West Virginia University and Virginia Tech.
Pine, who recorded 40 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six sacks and an interception for Lafayette as a junior, is considered a 3-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals.
While Pine has made a verbal commitment to the Panthers, he did say he might consider taking official visits to his top three schools: Pittsburgh, Georgia and West Virginia.
Until signing day, which falls on Feb. 3, Pine is remaining focused on taking care of his academics and honing his football skills.
“Honestly it’s just a lot of pressure relieved off my back,” Pine said of the recruitment process. “A lot of people say its a fun process, but it was definitely a stressful one having to go to different colleges and talk to different reporters and coaches. It’s a big stress relief.”