A New Jersey native with a strong connection to Pittsburgh, first year Pitt tight end Jake Renda’s ties to Western Pennsylvania run deep.
The 6-foot-4, 225 pound, three-star speedster spent the first three years of his high school career as a quarterback at Notre Dame (N.J.) High School. He then transferred to the prestigious IMG Academy (which produces a steady stream of college and NFL talent) in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior year.
Renda’s father, uncles and family friends grew up in the Cathedral of Learning’s shadow, graduating from Central Catholic a few blocks away. His paternal grandparents still live in the area, and Renda frequently visited Pittsburgh growing up.
“[Pittsburgh] goes back in my family history for generations,” Renda said.
Now that he’s several hundred miles from home, those visits extend to home cooked meals, and returning to his family roots feels natural.
“I might be more excited [than my grandparents are]… grandma’s obviously down the road, making me more food than I can possibly eat,” Renda said. “In a lot of ways I actually feel closer to home.”
Playing at IMG helped Renda prepare for the grind of Division-I athletics, and also the place where he moved from quarterback to tight end.
“Everything is taken so seriously [at IMG],” he said. “It helped me develop as a player, competing against some of the best talent in the country on a daily basis.”
Because of Pitt’s wealth of quarterbacks (and need for tight ends), he didn’t receive an offer until switching positions. He sent the Panthers’ coaching staff his practice tape over the summer, and received an offer soon thereafter. Renda leapt at the opportunity to come to the Steel City, and committed the same day.
“[For] as long as I can remember, Pittsburgh has been a huge part of my life,” Renda said. “I fell in love with the city at a very young age, so I couldn’t be more excited to be here.”