Hempfield lineman Pilato chooses Pitt

| Thursday, July 17, 2014, 3:45 p.m.

Assuming someone doesn't mind learning how to play center, in a few years the Pitt football team could potentially field an All-WPIAL offensive line after Hempfield senior Tony Pilato gave a verbal commitment to the Panthers on Wednesday afternoon.

A 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior tackle, Pilato joins a 2015 class that includes Canon-McMillanlineman Alex Paulina.

Pilato's commitment gives Pitt five major WPIAL offensive line recruits in the past three years, with Pilato and Paulina joining Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon) in 2013 and Mike Grimm (Bethel Park) and Alex Bookser (Mt. Lebanon) last season.

Pilato picked Pitt over Maryland and West Virginia, among others.

“Getting to play with a bunch of guys from the same area, it would be a neat thing to be on the line and play with those guys,” Pilato said.

Rivals.com considers Pilato a three-star recruit and ranks him as the 30th-best senior in Pennsylvania.

Pilato's father, Sam, was an offensive lineman at Pitt from 1980-82, though he didn't pressure his son.

“I was really thankful for my dad throughout this process,” Pilato said. “He's laid back. He told me it's my decision, that it's going to be a big one and do what I want to do. I'm grateful for him doing that.”

Pitt was the first school to offer, Pilato said, and that went a long way. So did the loyalty coach Paul Chryst and his staff showed Pilato throughout the recruiting process.

“The whole coaching staff is genuine and really relatable,” Pilato said. “They're straightforward. They're not going to lie to you.”

Pilato, who also was a two-time Terrific 10 selection in basketball after averaging double-doubles each of the past two seasons, wanted to commit in front of his coaches and teammates.

He waited for them to return from the Westmoreland County Coaches Association seven-on-seven tournament before making the big announcement, with his father and mother, Vicki, there watching.

“I really wanted to make it in front of my team,” Pilato said. “I wanted people who I work with every day to be there. I just waited for them to get done and for everyone to get done with that and be here.”

The reaction once he made his choice?

“They gave me a round of applause,” Pilato said.

“I think they were happy about me staying local so they can see me play and stay in touch.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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