Since his first play at Central Catholic High School, Elliot Donald has carried a lot of pressure that a normal high school athlete doesn’t have to deal with.
To start with, Donald is a highly rated recruit that has been hearing from major programs since his sophomore season. To go along with that, he carries a famous last name and is the nephew of one of, if not the best defensive players in the NFL.
Give credit to Donald because to this point he’s accepted the pressure, talk and the comparisons that come with that scenario tremendously for a teenager. Friday, he removed a big load from his shoulders by ending his recruitment by committing to Pitt.
“It feels real good but at the same time, I feel anxious now because I have even more eyes on me,” Donald told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I just want to get started, work harder and earn a spot on the team. I wouldn’t say I need anything to pump me up even more because of the love I have for playing the game. I love playing football and that’s why I do it. Right now I just want to get out there and play, like right now.”
Donald has kept details of his recruitment pretty quiet, but announced a week ago his intentions of making his decision soon. Was there a specific reason or anything that happened for Donald to end his recruitment?
“I’ve actually wanted to commit for some time now, but I wanted to make sure that I committed before the start of our high school season started,” he said. “I had hoped to get all my official visits out of the way in order to give everyone a fair shot but since I wouldn’t be able to make them now, it made me just want to commit now.”
Despite having the hometown and legacy advantage, Pat Narduzzi didn’t take anything for granted and recruited Donald as hard which helped. The other thing that helped is the relationship that Donald has been able to create with his future position coach, Charlie Partridge.
“The biggest factor for me committing was Coach Partridge,” said Donald. “At the end of the day, I thought to myself to listen to my heart and what I’m feeling. I’ve been able to sit-down and talk with Coach Partridge a lot and pick his brain for the last couple of months now. I trust in him, I believe in him and believe that he’s going to help me get to where I want to be. That’s what really allowed me to know that I was comfortable with this decision.
“This was obviously my decision, but I did talk to my family about it. I told them what I was thinking but also wanted to know what they were thinking as well. I would say that I had a lot of help during this process, especially during my sophomore season. I talked with teammates too that have been through the process.”
While he handled this entire process with class, Donald admits that he did get frustrated at times with stuff he read and heard on social media. Especially, with people claiming to know where he was headed and that Pitt was a lock from the moment they offered him a scholarship.
“I would say that I got annoyed, especially since my sophomore year, as people acted as though they knew everything that was going on,” said Donald. “Early on, I was star struck as I wanted to go to places like Michigan, Ohio State and places like that, but people were saying that you’ll go to Pitt because of my uncle. I really didn’t care what people were saying and actually I tried to joke about it. Even at school, people would say ‘you’re going to Pitt’ and I was like, just leave me alone. I would then tell him that ‘No I’m going to ………’ and would name a small local college instead just to joke about it. I really tried to block out the talk about what the outsiders were saying.”
With the biggest decision of his football life out of the way, Donald is ready to enjoy his senior season before getting to work on creating his own name and legacy at Pitt.
“I’m really excited about the future,” Donald said. “If you just look at how the Pitt defense and what they’re doing now and balling out, it definitely makes me want to be a part of it and am pumped up to be able to keep up doing what the Pitt defense is doing now.”
Donald becomes the second four-star WPIAL defensive player (Nahki Johnson) to join Pitt’s Class of 2021. With Donald in the fold, Narduzzi and his staff will turn their local attention to trying to get two other WPIAL stars Dorien Ford from Baldwin and Derrick Davis from Gateway. Although he really wants them to join him at Pitt, Donald won’t push too hard and will respect the decision those two players eventually make.
“I’ve talked with both of them to see where their at and what’s on their mind,” Donald said. “At the end of the day, I want them to do what’s best for them because nobody can tell them what’s best for them. Just like it was for me, I know it’s a life-changing decision for them and want them to make the best decision for them. I’d never try and pressure them.”