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North Allegheny lineman commits to Penn State

When North Allegheny offensive lineman Tom Ricketts visited Penn State, he was almost afraid to let his true feelings show.

"In the back of my mind, I said, 'Don't love this place. You're a Pitt guy.' But I couldn't help myself. I really love this place."

It was no wonder, then, that Ricketts, whose father played at Pitt and became a first-round draft choice of the Steelers in 1989, made a verbal commitment to Penn State on Wednesday night.

"It's where I felt like I fit best," Ricketts said. "It's the place I need to be."

Ricketts, 6-6, 265 pounds, said he had offers from 15 schools. Recently, he narrowed his choices to Penn State, Pitt, Boston College, Stanford, Maryland and Florida State. Purdue, Northwestern, Illinois and Cincinnati also made scholarship offers.

Ricketts said he made the decision with the blessing of his father, who played at Franklin Regional High School and Pitt.

"My dad knows it's my decision, something I have to make on my own," he said. "It's great to have it done. Everything was starting to get real hectic. There was no need to procrastinate."

He said he was "110 percent" certain Tuesday that he wanted to go to Penn State, but he had been leaning that way for the past two weeks.

Ricketts said he met coach Joe Paterno during the recruiting process, and Paterno was one of the reasons he settled on the Nittany Lions.

"He's a real cool guy," Ricketts, 17, said of the 82-year-old Paterno.

At North Allegheny this season, Ricketts may move from left guard to left tackle where he would replace Ryan Schlieper, who will be a freshman at Pitt.

Ricketts is the fifth WPIAL recruit from the Class of 2010 to commit to Penn State and the second in two days. Fox Chapel defensive lineman Miles Dieffenbach made his announcement Tuesday, joining Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones, Canon-McMillan linebacker Mike Hull and Penn-Trafford defensive lineman Luke Graham.

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