Marc Narducci: College plans in limbo for two area recruits
The resignation of Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has left the football program in uncertainty.
Quinton Alston had been looking forward to this weekend for quite some time. The Timber Creek senior linebacker had his official visit to the University of Pittsburgh, a place he made an oral commitment to attend during the summer.
Alston said he couldn't wait to meet with the friends he had made on the team and the other recruits.
His high school career is over, and this would be the first official act of his college career.
It all seemed so exciting.
But now his weekend plans have been canceled, his football future in limbo.
On Tuesday, Dave Wannstedt stepped down as Pitt's head coach. Multiple reports indicated he resigned under pressure.
When a move like this occurs, it affects the lives of so many people.
The assistant coaches on the staff don't know what the future holds, and the recruits are in a similar quandary.
"Man, there are no words to describe this," Alston said in disbelief. "I didn't see it coming."
On Monday, Pitt assistant coach Tony Wise was at Alston's house, going over the details of what was expected to be his official visit.
"Everything sounded so cool," Alston said.
That was until the next day when Pitt assistant Bernard Clark Jr., who coaches the linebackers, called Alston and delivered the news.
Alston was told that, with the uncertain coaching situation, there was no use at this time to make his official visit.
"It was just so sudden," Alston said.
And just as sudden came a flurry of phone calls to Alston and Winslow Township quarterback Bill Belton, who was recruited as an athlete by Pitt. Those calls were from other inquiring colleges, wondering if the two may have a change of heart.
Alston said he heard from a few college coaches. Belton heard from more than a few.
Belton had a dominating senior season, throwing for 2,167 yards and 21 touchdowns, and rushing for 1,003 yards and 13 scores.
Soon after he was informed about the Pitt coaching situation, Belton's cell phone began to ring and, just like the elusive quarterback, it never stopped.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook," Belton said. "The situation does affect me. If the staff is still there, I'll likely stay. But if the staff goes, I will go in a different direction."
Alston said the same thing.
What people don't realize in recruiting is how close the players often become to the assistant coaches who recruit them. It's the assistants who stay in touch with the recruits and build a rapport.
Alston said that he has become close to Pitt's Clark. And it's not only being close. There is a trust that is built up.
"One of the factors in going to Pitt is to play for Coach Clark," Alston said.
Through this situation, Belton and Alston have been talking quite a bit to each other.
"We are in contact all the time, basically talking about it and waiting," Belton said.
That's the hardest part, the waiting.
Pitt and any college that makes a coaching change this late in the recruiting process realizes that time is of the essence. The signing date is Feb. 2.
"It's heartbreaking," Alston said of the situation.