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New WR Commit Kha’leal Sterling Felt the Love from Pitt Since Day 1

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Pitt wide receiver commit Kha'leal Sterling and wide receivers coach JJ Laster

Kha’leal Sterling immediately felt the love from Pitt offensive coordinator Kade Bell. And when Pitt wide receivers coach JJ Laster entered the picture, it just made the bond between Sterling and Pitt that much stronger. He’s felt the love every day since Bell extended an offer in December.

So, when Sterling — a 5-foot-10, 170-pound three-star wide receiver from Miami Central in Miami, Fla. — arrived in Pittsburgh with his mom last Thursday, he had a pretty good idea of how his official visit was going to end. He just wanted to confirm those suspicions.

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Sterling, of course, had those suspicions confirmed in a major way — pledging himself to the Panthers before heading home to Miami.

“I think relationships with the coaches, JJ and Kade and the head coach and the recruiters, the main thing was the people that would be coaching me,” Sterling told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “Like, the people that would be coaching me when I get there; that was the main thing. The people I communicated with most from other schools, I used to talk to a lot of recruiters, who weren’t going to be the people coaching me when I would get to college. So, that played a big role in it.”

Sterling built a strong bond with Bell and Laster, and those relationships with not just Bell and Laster but the entire staff were certainly important. But he saw the offensive fit, too.

“Kade’s offense, everything is about moving fast, everything he wants is playing fast,” Sterling said. “He wants me to get in and out of my breaks and make plays with the ball in my hands. So, I love the feel for the offense coming up.”

Bell has been reshaping the offensive scheme in Pittsburgh since he arrived in December (one of his first offers was to Sterling, actually), and Sterling fits what he’s looking for in a wideout. He’s not the biggest wideout, certainly not at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, but he’s a rocket with the football in his hands.

Sterling transferred to national powerhouse Miami Central before his junior season and immediately emerged as a big-play threat. He racked up 26 receptions for 609 yards (23.4 yards per reception) and seven touchdowns.

Bell has big plans for Sterling in the future of the Pitt offense. That’s for sure.

“He just wants me to be a Tyreek Hill, Zay Flowers type of guy in that offense,” Sterling said. “That’s what he always preached to me, so he wants me to bring that fast route running, that crispy route running coming in and out of breaks, catching the ball in open space, making the first man miss, YAC, and just making a lot of plays with the ball in my hands.”

Sterling spent a lot of time with Desmond Reid and Lamar Seymore (his official host) on his visit, and while he was able to get a better idea of the fit, he was also able to connect with a couple of Florida guys.

“We all from the crib, so they were already going to convince me to come there regardless, and just knowing how I play, they knew what I bring to the table, so it was just helping the coaches with that,” Sterling said.

It was a perfect storm that led Sterling to Pittsburgh — the coaches, the offensive scheme and his future teammates. And with his commitment figured out, committing to Pitt over offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Bowling Green, FAU, FIU, Indiana, Liberty, Oregon, Pitt, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UAB and West Virginia, he’s happy to be locked in with the Panthers.

“It means a lot to me, especially from where I’m coming from and how I grew up and things of that nature, it’s big for me,” Sterling said. “I’m going to bring them everything I got, and right now, I know that I’m committed, but I’m just focused on my senior season so they can see what’s coming to them in January of 2025, early enrollee.”

If there’s one thing that Sterling would like Pitt fans to know about his game, and who he is, it’s speed.

“Throw it to whatever number they give me, throw it to him and he’s gonna make the play,” Sterling said. “They might name me after Joystick because that’s how Kade is gonna use me. So, you might get that name out of me.”

Sterling is one of a handful of offensive commitments that have versatility in serving as a running back, wide receiver or a mix of both, along with three-star wide receiver DaMarion Fowlkes (Olney, Md.), three-star wide receiver Tony Kinsler (Port Orange, Fla.), three-star wide receiver Bryce Yates (Chesterfield, Va.), three-star running back Ja’Kyrian Turner (Bushnell, Fla.) and three-star athlete Synkwan Smith (Roswell, Ga.)

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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