Earlier this month, Pitts’ Andre Powell reached out to Class of 2018 recruit Aidan Rafferty of Washington, D.C.’s Gonzaga College High School. About a week after Coach Powell initiated contact with Rafferty, the 6-foot-6-inch 280-pound offensive lineman received exciting news from the Panthers’ running backs coach.
“Coach Powell actually texted me and told me to call him the day I got the offer,” Rafferty told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “And that evening, I talked on the phone with him and he told me that I had received an offer from Pitt.”
Although Rafferty has much to learn about the University of Pittsburgh, he greeted the offer on February 9th with delight.
“Well, I knew Pitt was a great academic and athletic school. I don’t know that much about it, but I do know that their academics and athletics are superb. I was really excited and thankful to receive that offer.”
One aspect of the Panthers’ program with which Aidan is familiar is head coach Pat Narduzzi. The national exposure Pitt’s second-year head coach receives enables college football fans like Rafferty to learn his name.
“I know he’s done a great job at Pitt,” said Aidan, regarding Coach Narduzzi. “I read about him and watch about him on ESPN all the time.”
On Saturday, Rafferty will make the trip to Pittsburgh for the Panthers’ second Junior Day. As Aidan informed Pittsburgh Sports Now, this will not be his first time visiting Pitt.
“Last summer, my Gonzaga football team went there for the Big Man Challenge, but all we got to see was their football practice field and their indoor [facility].”
Rafferty’s first visit to Pitt did not afford him many opportunities to learn about the university. That will not be the case at this weekend’s Junior Day, and Aidan knows what he would like to see throughout what should be an eventful visit.
“I really want to see the whole campus, like the academic buildings. I’d like it if it was available to meet some of the players that are playing at Pitt, to ask them how they like the school and everything.”
Pitt is one of many schools to offer Rafferty in February. Dartmouth, Maryland, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Virginia, and Virginia Tech extended scholarship offers to the offensive tackle as well. This spate of offers is gratifying for a hard-working athlete like Aidan.
“It feels really good to know that these schools want me to come play there, but also that all the football work that I’ve been doing the past three years is starting to pay off,” he said.
Rafferty’s options are growing by the week. While he stated that Pitt “definitely” stands a chance at landing his commitment, the race for his signature remains an even playing field for those who have offered.
“I think everyone has a shot,” he said. “I don’t know that much about all these colleges, so that’s why I’d like to go visit and learn more. I’m just being completely open about all my college choices right now.”
Rafferty has not set a deadline for his commitment. Aidan, his parents, and his coach at Gonzaga agreed that patience is the best approach, and he can commit when he finds the perfect fit for him. Until then, he will prepare for his senior season at Gonzaga College High School, where Aidan earned Second-Team All-WCAC honors as the Eagles’ starting left tackle in 2016. With the physical and mental preparations Aidan is taking on a daily basis, first-team honors in 2017 are certainly within his grasp.
“Right now, I’ve been lifting with football four times a week, and also doing lifting on my own. I’ve also been studying film during lunch at school, just to get my football I.Q. the best I can. There’s only going to be two seniors on our offensive line next year, so we’re going to need to be able to lead the younger guys on the offensive line and know what we’re doing all the time.”
A strong senior season at Gonzaga will lead to more teams pursuing Aidan Rafferty’s talents. One team will eventually earn his commitment, and he knows what that team must show him before National Signing Day 2018.
“Obviously, good academics,” Aidan said. “A big football program. And I’d like to see schools that have happy students, but also school spirit—people that are really excited to go to Pitt, for example, and they’re super pumped every time Pitt has a football game. I really appreciate those schools.”