When a team is recruiting a player, especially one that they really are interested in landing, one of the biggest goals is to try and get that player to make a visit, including game day visits.
The Pitt Panthers were able to do that last Thursday against West Virginia and it made some big impressions on players, including one of the best junior defensive players in the country.
Central Catholic middle linebacker Anthony Speca (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) has been near the top of Pitt’s recruiting board for years and for good reason. The four-star linebacker is rated by all recruiting services as one of the Top 200 overall players in the Class of 2024. Pat Narduzzi and Pitt were the first school to extend him an offer when he was just a freshman and since then, Speca holds offers from some of the top schools in the country — Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Texas A&M, Tennessee, South Carolina, Michigan, Michigan State, Louisville, Boston College and Cincinnati.
Attending Pitt games is nothing new for Speca as his family has held season tickets for years, but Thursday’s Backyard Brawl was something different for this local star.
Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke on Sunday night with Speca about his unofficial visit and he left with some strong opinions on what he witnessed.
“The linebacking play, especially from SirVocea Dennis really impressed me,” said Speca. “He had a lot of clean run throughs because the d-line were just killers. As a linebacker, playing in front of a good d-line is important and I think as long as Charlie Partridge is at Pitt, that d-line will be elite. Coach Narduzzi is just a great defensive coach and I know that West Virginia scored 31 points, but I still think that was a really good effort. Maybe they didn’t execute as well as they wanted to, but I thought the effort and that they didn’t quit and were able to come back, I think that was super important.”
Aside from Pitt winning, the thing that everyone was talking about afterward was the atmosphere from the record crowd at Acrisure Stadium, and that includes Speca.
“You go to a lot of Pitt games, and I’ve been to a million of them, the stadium isn’t necessarily super full and it’s not super energetic, but Thursday was different,” Speca said. “Everyone was cheering for the team; it was packed. I was at the Ohio State-Notre Dame game on Saturday night, it was louder and more intense than that game, I thought. Being a Pitt fan, I was probably the loudest recruit in the section. I was standing on the rails, and that night meant a lot to me and it was super exciting. It was one of if not the best college football games that I was ever at.”
The Pitt football team along with their fans will have an opportunity to impress him so more because Speca plans on making another unofficial visit this Saturday for their game against Tennessee.
While this is a positive development for Pitt, most of the national recruiting analysts have Speca as a heavy lean towards Notre Dame. I asked him about that talk and where the hometown team currently sits with him.
“As I’m getting older and going through the recruiting process, I kind of now realize that Pitt is more than I originally thought they were,” said Speca. “The whole Notre Dame thing, I would just say, and I would write, don’t feed into that too much. I still have a very open mind; I wouldn’t even say they were my No. 1 right now because I actually don’t have a top school. Notre Dame is in a group of schools that includes Pitt. I like Notre Dame as much as I like Pitt.”
I finished our conversation by asking Speca, “So, Pitt isn’t out of the running for you?”
“No, not at all, they’re definitely still in it. What kid from Pittsburgh wouldn’t want to play for Pitt right now?”