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Gunn shocked at Pitt's interest

Kevin Gorman
| Sunday, Oct. 27, 2002

When Adam Gunn isn't playing football Friday nights, he's simulating it by playing “NCAA Football” on PlayStation. And he always uses the same team, the University of Pittsburgh Panthers.

So the Kiski Area free safety was stunned Tuesday when a formal letter from the Panthers arrived in the mail, even though he had received indications from assistants Paul Rhoads and Curtis Bray that they were about to offer a scholarship.

“I knew it was coming, but once I really got it, I was shocked,” Gunn said. “I didn't know what to think. I'm only a junior.”

The difference is that Gunn is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and has a reputation as a big hitter. His athleticism is evident in that he also is the Cavaliers' quarterback, plays forward on the basketball team and is a sprinter in track and field.

Even though he's only a junior, Gunn might be Pitt's next recruit.

“I was thinking from a players' perspective how I want to go there,” Gunn said after attending Pitt's 19-16 overtime victory over Boston College on Saturday. “I like the coaches, the players, their style, playing at Heinz Field. A winning program is definitely where an athlete wants to be. They're winning, and the program is on the rise.

“They know how I feel about them and know I like their program. They know I'm going to go there, but I want to take my time with my family and look into the academics. Right now, I'm just looking at football.”

Gunn said his father, Ed, is urging him to commit now, while his mother, Dona, is advising him to wait so that he can check out Pitt's academic background before making such an important college decision.

Gunn, an honor roll student who said he is considering majoring in sports management, also is receiving interest from Akron, Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue and West Virginia. He has no other offers, as of yet.

“I don't know what to think,” Gunn said. “I don't know how many offers I'm going to get. Pitt's definitely where I want to go.”

One reason is that Adam, who doesn't turn 17 until June, wants to stay near his Vandergrift home.

“That's the main part,” Gunn said. “I definitely want to stay close to my family. I don't want to go too far.”

The youngest of five children, Gunn's older brothers also played safety in college but their size indicates that he could grow into an outside linebacker. Sanford (6-4, 220) played free safety at Indiana (Pa.) and Shippensburg, while Vance (6-0, 210) was a strong safety for two years at West Point.

They played a role in toughening up Adam.

“I would say it definitely had a big part in it,” Adam said.

The defense was a main factor in why Kiski Area was one of the top-five teams in WPIAL Quad A before inside linebacker Chris McKillop was lost for the season after suffering a dislocated ankle against Latrobe on Sept. 27.

Since then, Gunn has taken on a leadership role on both sides of the ball. Alhough he had passed for 874 yards and 10 touchdowns going into the weekend, Gunn says defense is his first love. He has 40 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions for the Cavaliers (6-3, 5-1 Quad South).

Those defensive statistics are almost identical to those in his sophomore season, when he moved into the starting lineup after receiving Kiski's “headhunter” award as defensive player of the game in Week 3.

Kiski Area is quickly beginning to rival Woodland Hills as one of the Panthers' premier pipelines. Chris McKillop became Pitt's first recruit from the Class of 2003 when he committed this past May. Gunn could be its first from the Class of 2004, perhaps as early as sometime this fall.

“We've spent a lot of time together, going down to Pitt,” said Gunn, who is close friends with McKillop's younger brother, Scott, a junior outside linebacker. “We've been playing together since midget football. I could see Scott at Pitt, too. That would be real nice if we all went to the same school.”

That way, Gunn could simulate himself for Pitt on PlayStation.

“That,” he said, “would be great.”

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