January 25, 2011

McKeesport duo still likes Tech

McKeesport defensive lineman Delvon Simmons and Branden Jackson are getting closer and closer to National Signing Day, but that doesn't mean their recruitment has slowed down at all. Both guys are still making overtures towards a fifth official visit, and Pitt has been one of the latest to make a strong push according to the pair's head coach, Jim Ward.

"They are trying to make a serious push, and I think the new coaching staff has realized what kind of players they have in their own backyard and that they needed to at least make an effort to get them in. They're too good of players to be passing up, but Pitt's got a lot of ground to make up," Ward said. "It had been a long time since our guys had heard from Pitt up until they got their new staff. These guys respect their efforts and will be willing to listen to their pitch, but I think both guys are pretty well set with some great options right now. It is nice for them to have that safety net back home, though. If they decided they wanted to stay home then they'd have that option, and I think that's the way they're looking at it right now."

"If Branden is going to take a fifth visit it looks like it would be with Pitt, but he hasn't decided if he'll even take one at all yet. Nothing has been set up or scheduled at this point, but we'll see what happens with the rest of the week. And Delvon obviously has some others ahead of them on the list, but they're making a pitch for him as well."

Coach Ward still believes Simmons will make his decision on National Signing Day, while he describes Jackson as being "probable" for a signing day announcement.

"Texas Tech and Oregon are still the two for Jackson. I don't really see that changing for him," he said. "With Branden it hasn't ever been about when he wanted to make his decision so that's why I say he's more of a probable signing day guy. He could wake up tomorrow and have a decision made, and that will be it. I'm leaning towards him announcing next Wednesday, but I wouldn't rule out the thought of him making a decision sooner."

"Texas Tech and Oregon coaches were both up last week on different days, and I think they're both scheduled to be up here this week on Thursday. Oregon didn't get to see Branden because he was playing a basketball game, but Coach Robert Prunty had a chance to sit down and visit with him when he was here, and he also got to spend a little time with Delvon to continue building that relationship."

Simmons had been weighing his options for a fifth official visit between Florida and USC, and it appears that he'll be headed for the West Coast this weekend.

"Yeah that was decided on Saturday. He's been leaning in that direction for a little while so we made that decision and he'll be visiting USC for his fifth visit," Wards said. "We'll have a chance to really get an idea of what's going to happen after this weekend."

Coach Ward mentioned that he had the opportunity to speak with Tech's new defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow over the weekend.

"I spoke with Coach Glasgow on Saturday and had a chance to speak with him for a few minutes," he said. "He was really easy to talk to and he seemed like a very intelligent guy. He seemed to have a plan for what he wanted to do and I think it was a great choice for Coach Tommy Tuberville just like we expected him to make."

Coach Prunty will be making a trip up to McKeesport on Thursday, and Coach Ward still sees the Red Raiders as being in a very good position with both guys.

"I still see Texas Tech as a heavy player for both of these guys. Delvon's comfort level with Coach Prunty, and all of the people he's gotten to meet at Texas Tech, from Coach Tuberville to the Chancellor, has got him really interested in their program. And Branden has been high on them for quite a while now," Ward said. "From a coach's standpoint, Tech is still a great option for both. I feel so comfortable about how great they would be treated there, and I know it wouldn't just be about the 'on the field' stuff for. They'd make sure they were progressing as individuals, as well as athletes. Texas Tech still has as good of a chance as anybody to land either one of them , or both."

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