Winslow Township quarterback Bill Belton does his best work in the open field.
He's back in the clear again.
Belton said Wednesday he is now considering Penn State, West Virginia, and Cincinnati as his college choices after withdrawing his commitment to Pitt.
Belton, a two-time All-South Jersey selection who was The Inquirer's offensive player of the year this season, said he planned to make official visits to the three schools in January.
Belton has been in contact with coaches from second-ranked Oregon, which will play No. 1 Auburn in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game Jan. 10, but said that he was not considering the Ducks at this point.
"Oregon is a great place, and they run a great system," Belton said. "But that's not the direction I want to go."
Belton said he decided to withdraw his commitment from Pitt after careful consideration following the Dec. 7 resignation of Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt.
Belton said that uncertainty over the age and health of Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who will turn 84 on Tuesday, would not dissuade him from signing with the Nittany Lions.
"Coach Paterno is a legend, and he always finds a way to stick around a lot longer than people think he will," Belton said. "However long he would be there, that would be great. I understand the situation.
"Penn State would be different if he happens to step down, but that's not going to affect my decision."
Belton had nothing but good things to say about West Virginia.
"I love everything about West Virginia," Belton said. "It's a great place. They run a great offense. I get along well with the coaches. They are all great people."
Cincinnati might have an edge in recruiting Belton because former Winslow Township player Reuben Johnson is a sophomore starting defensive back for the Bearcats.
In addition, Belton said that Cincinnati is recruiting current Winslow Township seniors Devante Waugh, a wide receiver, and Robert Mahan, a defensive back and linebacker.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Belton put up remarkable numbers during his career at Winslow.
As a sophomore wide receiver, Belton caught 38 passes for 707 yards and eight touchdowns.
As a junior quarterback, Belton passed for 2,305 yards and 15 touchdowns and ran for 1,192 yards and 15 touchdowns.
As a senior quarterback, Belton passed for 2,167 yards and 21 touchdowns and ran for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns as Winslow Township went 7-4 and reached the South Jersey Group 3 semifinals.
Belton became the first quarterback in state history to pass for more than 2,000 yards and run for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Belton is being recruited by most colleges as an athlete who can help the team in a variety of ways - running back, wide receiver, Wildcat quarterback, and kick returner.