By Keith McShea
Hello from Canisius High's auditorium.
Podium is set up and lot of media members are awaiting the announcement of Qadree Ollison's verbal committment.
* * *
Ollison verbally commits to the University of Pittsburgh.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound back started the announcement by saying, "I'm going to be leaving Canisius next year, and taking off the blue and gold, and I'll be attending ...
[Gets hat out from under the podium.]
"The University of Pittsburgh."
He ended his podium speaking with:
"I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of my senior year here at Canisius. And I can't wait to be rocking the blue and gold again at Pittsburgh."
Here's video of the announcement (my apologies for the shakiness, it's because I had one hand on holding the iPhone and one hand typing on the blog).
Ollison said he only told his brother of his decision before announcing it at the podium before media, classmates and teammates in the auditorium. His father, Wayne, and coach Rich Robbins did not know is final decision.
He made his announcement, put on a white "PITT" baseball cap, thanked his dad, other family members and the Canisius program, then met the media for interviews.
Ollison said, as anyone making a big decision should, that Pitt just "felt right."
He said he had a good relationship with the coaches; that he had the opportunity to play early; that other running backs had committed to other programs in his final five; that Pittsburgh is close to Western New York; and that it helped that Canisius coach Rich Robbins, a native of the Pittsburgh area, showed him around the city during his visit a week ago today.
More from Ollison:
“When I went on my visit there, I’ve been there two or three times, it felt like a great place to be,” said Ollison. “I had a really nice relationship with the coaches, I had a really nice feel for the campus.
"I think those are the things that ultimately make your decision. Because every place is going to have nice facilities, great academics, but how do you feel when you go there? You know, do you feel like you can live at that place for the next four years and potentially the rest of your life.”
Ollison had cut a list of 15 Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision) scholarship offers to five finalists. The other four were: Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Wisconsin.
On coach Robbins: “He went to North Allegany and when he went down with me, he showed me around the city and showed me everything,” said Ollison, who was joined by Robbins during his official visit last Monday, which included a sideine view of Pitt’s loss to Florida State on Heinz Field.
“I’m from the area and know a lot of people down there, and when we were down there for a few visits I was able to tell him the good restaurants and different things like that,” said Robbins, who said he stayed neutral while Qadree and father Wayne went through their options. “‘Q’ and Wayne didn’t leave any stone unturned — they know how many linemen are in the program, how many running backs. It really came down to a family, comfortable atmosphere. We kind of have a family atmosphere at Canisius, he felt some similar things were happening there.”
Ollison said that he did not have a solid No. 1 choice throughout the recruiting process.
“It jumped around a lot,” said Ollison, who turned 17 years old Sunday. “You have to look at what other recruits are doing. A lot of kids went to a school that I probably had as my No. 1, then they had two running backs committ, so they moved further down the chart and other schools moved up.”
Ollison said that No. 1 at that time was Rutgers and also noted that Wisconsin had two running backs commit as well.
“I’m not afraid of competition. I’m not afraid of it,” Ollison said. “But I’d rather go some where where there’s not as much competition — it’s easier going in with only two backs than going in with four.”
He said of Penn State, where Canisius grad John Urschel is a standout starting lineman, “I liked Penn State all the way down to the end.
“John’s great. He’s a great guy. But at the end of the day, this was going to be my decision. It was tough saying no to some of the other schools -- especailly when I made my top five and saying no to those other 10. It was definitely tough.”
Today’s announcement is just a verbal commitment. The official signing period begins Feb. 5, 2014
Canisius and Ollison take on perennial power and defending Section V (Rochester area) Class AA champion Aquinas in Rochester at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
taggedCanisius | Football | High school football | Recruiting | Video