Aliquippa's Raines commits to West Virginia
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi lost his most recent recruiting battle when Aliquippa's Kwantel Raines, a four-star safety, announced Monday night he will enroll at West Virginia next year.
But Narduzzi went down swinging.
Raines made the announcement at the Aliquippa Borough Building, seated behind baseball caps from his four final choices: West Virginia, Pitt, Penn State and Florida.
Raines said he called each of the four coaches, including WVU assistant Tony Gibson on Saturday after the Mountaineers lost to Oklahoma State.
He said he wasn't sure how long he spoke with Narduzzi on Sunday night, but he estimated the phone conversation lasted “between 30 minutes to an hour.”
“He was telling me he knows I have to make the best choice for me and my family,” Raines said. “If I think that's WVU, he's going to support me.”
Raines also spoke with former Aliquippa football player Kaezon Pugh, a redshirt freshman at Pitt.
He said Pugh initially tried to push Raines toward Pitt.
“Until I told him where I was going and he understood,” he said.
Raines (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) said he chose West Virginia because he believed Gibson was the most truthful during the process.
“(Other schools) told me I could start right away,” he said. “I didn't figure that was real.”
Raines' father Mike Raines is a boyhood friend of Roland Henry, father of WVU defensive back Dravon Askew-Henry, an Aliquippa graduate.
“It was all pretty hard,” said Mike Raines, who said his son made up his mind two weeks ago. “It flipped back and forth — Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia.”
He also liked Florida.
“He loved Florida,” Mike Raines said. “What's not to like about Florida?”
Raines, who has helped Aliquippa to a 10-0 record and the No. 1 seed for the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs, is ranked the 19th safety in the U.S. and the ninth overall prospect in Pennsylvania, according to Rivals.com.
Mike and his son said the night was one to celebrate and to feel a sense of relief.
“We're going home and eat,” Mike Raines said. “Have a little family dinner and talk about what's next.”