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“Fiery. Nasty. Get after it. Good Vision. Good feet.”
These are words often associated with offensive linemen born and bred in the WPIAL, which is why it should come as no surprise that they are the words Jake Kradel of Butler Area High School uses to describe himself on the field. Kradel, a 3-star offensive guard prospect, will attend Pitt’s Junior Day on February 25th. According to the 6-foot-4-inch 275-pound lineman, he knows precisely how to approach his visit, and what he will look to achieve while on campus.
“Just with an open mind,” Kradel said of how he will approach this weekend. “[I would like to] get to build a relationship with Coach [John] Peterson—a better one. We already have a good relationship. Just build on it. Hopefully get to talk to Coach Narduzzi and bond with all the coaches. And hope for a good outcome.”
Kradel will attend Rutgers’ Junior Day this Saturday, and Temple’s Junior Day on Monday. Since his Junior Day at Pitt remains a week-and-a-half away, Jake has yet to review an agenda of what Coach Narduzzi and his staff have in store for their recruits. However, he figures it will follow the general outline of what most Junior Days include.
“I think it’s going to be the normal: see the facilities, meet with the coaches, go over their schemes, and probably go over their expectations. All that stuff that Junior Days are all about.”
Although he is unsure of the schedule laid forth by the Panthers’ coaches, Jake knows what he would like to see from Pitt on Junior Day.
“Just great academics, and having what I want to study in the future (either Sports Management or Business). And a family atmosphere—just a great atmosphere with the coaches, players, and everything like that. And then just a good football program, which I know that’s what Pitt has. They’re up-and-coming … to be elite.”
One of the primary reasons why Kradel believes the Panthers can be elite is none other than head coach Pat Narduzzi. Kradel admires Narduzzi’s demeanor, and the progress his program has shown in his two seasons at Pitt.
“Man, I think really highly of him,” Kradel said with regard to Narduzzi. “He just brings the fire. He has a great passion for the game. Just love everything he’s doing with the program. You can tell it’s definitely on the rise after going back-to-back 8-win seasons. The direction he’s taking with it is just going to be amazing the next few years.”
‼️Junior Season‼️ https://t.co/Pada4BRk2R
— Jake Kradel (@JakeKradel) December 17, 2016
As a junior at Butler Area High School, Jake earned Second-Team All-State honors from USA Today for his contributions on the offensive line. While Kradel also lines up at defensive tackle for Butler, he has been told that his future lies on the offensive side of the ball.
“I’ll be playing center or guard,” Jake said. “I mean, every college I’ve talked to has said, ‘You’re an interior lineman,’ which I totally agree with. I’m not 6’8”; I’m 6’4”, so playing inside is where I’m going to be playing. And also, next year that’s where I’m going to be playing for my high school team.”
Jake’s recruitment has started to pick up in the past few weeks since National Signing Day 2017. Kradel now holds offers from Power 5 FBS schools like Iowa State, North Carolina State, Minnesota, and Rutgers. While Pitt is displaying obvious interest in the offensive lineman, no offer has been extended by Pat Narduzzi and his staff. According to Jake, an offer from his hometown team would automatically place the Panthers in contention for his commitment.
“I feel like Pitt’s always been one of my top schools since I was younger. I was always going to Pitt games. I feel like if they offer me [they’ll] be one of my top choices. It’s going to be a hard decision at the end of the day.”
To conclude our conversation, I asked Jake if Pitt would stand a chance at earning his commitment, should they extend a scholarship offer.
“I mean, I couldn’t say,” he replied. “Possibly. [I’ll] definitely explore my options. … Too early to say. I mean, there’s a lot of schools I’ve loved. I’ve been around Pitt; I’ve been down to a couple visits for games and stuff, but I really have to dig down deep and find the right school.”
Pittsburgh Sports Now wishes Jake Kradel luck throughout the recruiting process, and will continue to follow his progress as he searches for “the right school.”