Montclair (NJ) offensive lineman Owen Drexel (6-foot-4-inches, 285 pounds) completed an official visit to Pitt last weekend. Unlike several uncommitted players, the rugged center / guard was one of the first players to commit to the 2017 class. Considered the top center prospect in the state of New Jersey, Drexel already knew quite a bit about the Panther football program. He used the visit to further build rapport with his future teammates and coaches.
“I had a great time over the weekend. One of my favorite parts was definitely seeing the Steelers practice,” said Drexel. “You get to see … you kind of see yourself in the future kind of playing there. You’d be around those guys. It gives you that kind of motivation to take it up a notch in whatever you’re doing. Everything else was great. I hung out with (Pitt redshirt freshman) Brandon Ford a lot. He was my host for the weekend. He’s a great, great guy. He’s going to be a great player for Pitt especially in upcoming years. Those were really my two favorite parts of the entire visit.”
“I got a much better feel for the campus this time. It gave me a feel for what life at Pitt will be like. I got to hang out with a ton of my future teammates and all of the guys seem to fit together perfectly. There’s a real family feel to the team.”
Drexel sat down with head coach Pat Narduzzi prior to leaving Pittsburgh. The discussion was a mix of casual discussion and football. He was asked about to elaborate on what was discussed, he stated, “Well, we lost a lot of offensive lineman so there’s a lot of turnover. A few guys left the team so what they’re about really is opportunity to play,” he said. “You know … nothing is never given to you and I would never want that from a coach. I wouldn’t be going to Pitt if they had said I was going to play right away. No, just the opportunity to complete. I’ll do anything I can to help the team.”
Drexel may be the most underrated player in the Panthers’ 2017 recruiting class. Despite countless hours of work with Pro E.D.G.E. (Evaluating Development to Gain Excellence) a program catered to linemen providing football training, mentoring and academic resources and dominance at a number of college football camps over the summer, Owen averages a ‘two-star’ ranting by most major recruiting services. When he was asked if his star-ratings provided him extra motivation or a chip of his shoulder, Drexel confidently stated, “To be honest, I don’t really care about any of that stuff. You know of course I’m going to use it to make myself better, but it’s not really something that I’ve really looked at. You know what I mean? The people who respect me respect me. People who don’t are going to regret it later.”
Drexel was the first 2017 offensive lineman to commit to the Panthers. He has subsequently been joined by Palm Beach Gardens (FL) OL Jerry Drake (6-foot-7 inches, 310 pounds), Wayne (NJ) OL Carter Warren (6-foot-6 inches, 320 pounds) and Pittsburgh (PA) Gabe Houy (6-foot-6 inches, 275 pounds).
Drexel and Warren have both worked with Pro E.D.G.E. and Pitt offensive line coach John Peterson recently stopped at their facility to meet co-founders Sameeh McDonald and J’Vonne Parker. It appears the Panthers are attempting to create a bit of a pipeline between Pitt and the Pro E.D.G.E. family. The Panthers recently offered scholarships to Pro E.D.G.E. participants Tyler Friday, a 2018 lineman from Don Bosco Prep School in Ramsey, NJ and Antonio Alfano, a 2019 lineman from Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, NJ.