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December 14, 2013

Pitt lands a Florida linebacker

Pitt hosted one official visitor this weekend, and that visit turned into a commitment, as Cocoa (Fla.) linebacker James Folston Jr. committed to the Panthers Saturday night.

Folston Jr. picked Pitt over offers from Minnesota and South Florida. He took an official visit to Minnesota three weeks ago and also spent a weekend in Pittsburgh in early November when Pitt hosted Notre Dame.

At 6'3" 201, Folston Jr. projects as a linebacker for Pitt, but he hit a major growth spurt in the last year that made him big enough for that position. His coach, John Wilkinson, told Panther-Lair.com in October that Folston Jr. was 170 pounds in 2012 and primarily played receiver and a little bit of defense.

"Then he played free safety in the spring and looked good, but he had a tremendous summer," Wilkinson said. "He was in the weight room every day and worked out with his dad a lot and put on about 20 or 25 pounds of muscle."

Folston Jr.'s father was probably a good trainer. The elder James Folston played college football at Louisiana-Monroe before spending nine years in the NFL with the Raiders - who selected him in the second round of the 1994 draft - and the Cardinals.

Additionally, Folston Jr.'s older brother, Tarean, is a freshman running back at Notre Dame and his sister, Jazzmine, signed with TCU's track and field team in February.

After seeing some early-season film this fall, the Pitt staff sent Inoke Breckterfield to Cocoa for an in-person evaluation, and when he confirmed that Folston Jr. actually was as big as he claimed, an offer was quick to come.

A month later, Folston Jr. made his way north for the Pitt-Notre Dame game and an extended weekend in Pittsburgh.

"That was an experience I've never had, as far as the crowd and atmosphere," he told Panther-Lair.com after the visit. "The fans were wild and the student section was really loud. I was pretty excited; it kept me on my toes the whole time."

Folston Jr. left that visit with a very positive impression of Pitt, but he needed one more visit to be sure that he wanted to be a Panther. On Saturday night, he pulled the trigger.



With Folston Jr. on board, Pitt now has 20 commitments in the class of 2014. He is the second linebacker to pick the Panthers, joining Fox Chapel's Quintin Wirginis.





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