Like most other teenagers entering their senior year of high school, Donovan Jeter has spent a good time thinking about his upcoming college decision. He’s collecting facts, planning visits and getting to know people.
Unlike most other high schoolers, the stakes for Jeter are a bit higher. The 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive tackle from Beaver Falls is rated as a four-star prospect by 247 Sports.
“It’s big,” he said. “You’re constantly thinking about where you want to go and what’s best for you. It’s just a hard decision to make. It’s one of the most important decisions in life and it’s just really hard. I’m lucky to have schools wanting me, but it’s a burden to try to make a big decision at 17 years old.”
The quality and quantity of choices for Jeter probably isn’t helping to make his decision any easier. Of his 27 Division I scholarship offers, he said that several have been in recent contact, listing Pitt, Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan State.
Those are certainly the big-leagues. It seems that Pitt would be a long shot, but it seems to offer a lot of what Jeter is looking for.
“I’m up there a lot,” Jeter said of Pitt, where his brother, Sheldon, will be a senior forward on the basketball team. “I want a place where I feel home. I can go up there and feel like I never left my city. It’s just a great atmosphere up there. I have a real good relationship with (head coach Pat Narduzzi), (linebackers coach Rob Harley) and all those guys. That’s the big thing at Pitt is the relationship I have with the coaches. I feel comfortable up there.”
The other big draw for Jeter is Narduzzi himself.
“He’s the best defensive coach in the country,” Jeter said. “When he was at Michigan State, they had a top-five defense almost every year. He’s real fiery. He’s pro-defense: he wants the defensive guys to shine. With me play defense, obviously, that’s weighing in. That’s a big attraction for me: playing for a head coach who is a defensive mastermind. … I feel that people were starting to follow Pitt more and every year they got better and then when they hired Coach Narduzzi, it was a big boost for the program.”
Jeter hasn’t yet decided on when he will make a decision on his college commitment. He said he’d like to take some official visits in the fall. One things is for sure, when he makes up his mind, it’ll be because he’s made the decision. He said his parents told him “it’s your decision” and for him to not let anyone else influence him. That’s something that can be hard to do.
“Everywhere I go, someone asks me if I committed yet or they’re telling me I should go here or there,” he said. “I’m going to make the decision. … At the end of the day, no one else puts my pads on for me, nobody else gets hit. It’s me going out there taking a pounding.”
Typically, Jeter delivers the poundings more frequently than the takes them, as the film from his junior season can attest. That’s what has some of the top schools in the country lined up to recruit him, and that’s what’s making his decision so difficult.
“I’m blessed to have this position,” he said.