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July 25, 2001

Billy Gaines Interview

We would like to thank Billy Gaines for taking the time to talk to the Panther Lair. Billy is speed merchant capable of making a game breaking play at any moment. He will be a welcome addition to the Pittsburgh Panther football program.

Within the last three years, the University of Pittsburgh has developed the reputation as ďWide Receiver University". The accomplishments of All-American Antonio Bryant, Latef Grim, Terry Murphy, and Mark Butler have greatly solidified the Panthers lofty status. Most of the Panthers receivers tend to be large in stature. Senior R.J English stands a menacing 6-3 217 lbs. Junior Lamar Slade is a long and lean 6-4 210 lbs. Class of 2002 addition Larry Fitzgerald Jr. (Valley Forge Military Academy) is a towering and muscle-bound 6-4 215 lbs. The Panthers fourth Class of 2002 verbal commitment certainly "breaks the mold". Wide receiver Billy Gaines from Urbana High School in Frederick, MD is a diminutive 5-8 168 lbs. Although Billy is vertically challenged, he brings quite a bit of excitement to the Pittsburgh Panther football program.

Gaines chose the Panthers over West Virginia and Virginia. Since his commitment to the Panthers, he has received additional interest from upper echelon programs. Most schools have overlooked his size due Billyís astonishing speed. Gaines ran an incredible 4.22 at the Nike camp held at Penn State. "I ran a 4.22 and 4.25 at the Penn State Nike Camp. I can run a consistent 4.4 forty," stated Gaines. In addition to his speed, Gaines is extremely rugged. A dedicated workout warrior, he is capable of bench-pressing 280 lbs., squatting 380 lbs., and power cleaning 285 lbs. (a school record). Gaines added, "I have a weekly agenda. Four days of hard strength training and five days of running. Three of those days are sprint training and two are endurance. I try to take at least one day to rest. The hardest are the days when I have to lift and run. Itís all worth it and Iím looking forward to working with an expert.Ē

Gaines attended the Panthers summer camp and chose Pitt for a multitude of reasons. "I love everything about the football program. Coach Harris is one of the most respected in the country and his staff is superb. I liked talking to every assistant coach from over there. I know I have so much to learn from all of them. The facilities are top of the line. Pitt treated me with the respect I have been looking for and I want to dedicate myself to the team. I will contribute all I have and I can promise a positive outcome," stated Gaines. The Panthers were the first school to offer Gaines a scholarship and the display of faith meant quite a bit to Billy. "The early offer just shows that Pitt saw something in me they really trust. They showed me so much respect just by offering. They made me realize that hard work does pay off," stated Gaines.

In addition to his duties as a wide receiver, Gaines will also return punts for the Panthers. When asked to describe his playing style, Billy responded, "I play fearless. Iím a short wide receiver but that just means Iíll have an easier time catching the ball at my ankles than someone who is 6-4. I will never stop until Iím stronger than my opponent mentally and physically. I have to be the best and I just want the ball. I want to win. I play with a passion for the game." Gaines has been compared favorably to the New York Jetís Wayne Chrebet and San Diego Chargerís Tim Dwight. Gaines had the opportunity to meet both quarterback recruit Tyler Palko and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. at the Panthers summer camp. Billy had comments about both athletes. "Larry Fitzgerald is a big reason I felt so good about committing. He became a friend in the 2 days I spent at camp. I have a feeling weíre going to work real well together for four yearsÖor until the NFL picks him up, whatever comes first. Although I felt good about my decision from the start, knowing Tyler Palko committed is like icing on the cake. You really canít ask for much more. Everyone knows heís the real deal. He's got my respect. What more can I say!" replied Gaines. Billy joins Class of 2002 recruits Tyler Palko (West Allegheny HS), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. (Valley Forge Military Academy), defensive end Andy "Big A" Alleman (Massillon Washington High School, OH), kicker David Abdul (Massillon Washington High School, OH), and defensive end Larry Tumblin (Oberlin, OH).

Recruiting Note: Although the Panthers have already landed Larry Fitzgerald Jr. and Billy Gaines, Mark Lewis (6-3 185) from Dickinson, TX is currently leaning towards the Panthers. Pitt, Purdue, Arkansas, SMU, and TCU are currently pursuing Lewis. Lewis is a long and lean leaper with excellent hands and 4.5 speed.

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