April 2, 2007

Cruz talks Pitt football

Johnstown Bishop McCort tight end Mike Cruz (6' 4" 265) became Pitt's second verbal commitment when he told the coaching staff over the weekend he would be a Panther. He is also the second player from the Johnstown area to commit to Pitt for the Class of 2008. A few months ago defensive back Johnstown's Antwuan Reed (5' 9" 170) also committed to Pitt.

Mike Cruz told the Pantherlair, "I came down to Pitt on Friday. I stayed with Scott Corson over the weekend. I told the coaches on Friday that I wanted to commit to Pitt but they told me to wait until Sunday when my parents were in town so they could sit down and talk to Coach Wannstedt."

Cruz went on to say, "I just love it at Pitt. I have known for sometime it was the place for me. I love the players on the team. I just want to be a part of it. I like everything about Pitt. I watched Pitt scrimmage on Saturday but I skipped the tour they gave the other players. Scott Corson has shown me the campus before and I knew they would show my parents around when they came down on Sunday. On Saturday I was there early to get my picture taken for a magazine Tom Lemming is putting out later this year."

Cruz also said, "My father loved his visit to Pitt but my mom was a little worried about the city atmosphere. She probably would like to have seen me go to a college town but she supports me in everything I do so she is on board."

We also spoke to Bishop McCort head coach Ken Burns who said, "We wanted to wait until the end of the school year so Mike could visit one or two more schools but he got so excited when he visited Pitt this past weekend he just couldn't wait any longer. I am very happy for him and Pitt. I have been a big Pitt fan myself. My grandfather was Steve Petro." Steve Petro was at Pitt for over 50 years. He played for Pitt and was an assistant coach at Pitt. He was later an assistant to the Athletic Director. Steve Petro was known to many Pitt fans as the "Rock".

Coach Burns said, "Mike is a powerful blocker and he has soft hands. He is very athletic for a big guy. We think he has still only scratched the surface of his potential. His toughness is an asset. He will start at tight end and defensive end for us this year. I think he will be a tight end in college but it would not take much to have him playing on the other side of the ball. He has been working hard lately in the classroom so he should be fine academically."

As a junior Cruz helped Johnstown Bishop McCort to an 11-1 record and a berth in the Class AA state playoffs. The Crushers lost in third overtime in their opener to Bedford by a score of 25-24. The Crushers then ripped off 11 consecutive wins including wins over Bedford, Johnstown and Tyrone. McCort lost in the AA quarterfinals to Wilmington 13-6. Wilmington features running back Chris Burns who Pitt is also recruiting.

Cruz caught 21 passes last fall for 306 yards and 3 touchdowns. Of defense he had 40 tackles including 6 sacks. He also returned an interception for a touchdown. He was a first team all-area selection.

Cruz injured his knee in the playoffs and played despite the injury which required off season surgery. Cruz said, "The knee feels great. I should be cleared to start jogging on it next week."

Pitt has a couple of other players on the roster from Johnstown in junior LaRod Stephens-Howling and redshirt freshman Scott Corson. They will be joined in January by Bishop McCort's defensive tackle Wayne Jones.

Mike Cruz has an older brother, Jose Cruz, who is a redshirt freshman for the University of Akron.

In addition to Pitt Cruz held offers from Nebraska, Virginia, Clemson, West Virginia, Temple, Toledo, Kent State and Akron.

Defensive line coach Greg Gattuso recruited Mike Cruz to Pitt. He has also been recruited by Bob Junko.

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