Pitt fans were excited for the season opener against Florida State, but none might have been quite as excited as Philadelphia (Pa.) West Catholic safety Patrick Amara, the Pitt commit who saw the Panthers live and in action for first time Monday night.
"I thought it was an amazing sight; the ACC brought a whole new excitement to Pittsburgh," Amara told Panther-Lair.com. "That was the first game I ever saw there and it was crazy. The whole student section was filled before anybody else even came into the game, and the environment was crazy. It was amazing.
"I expected it to be crazy, but I never expected it to be that good. (Gateway safety) Montae Nicholson was telling me that he never saw it like that before. The whole house was filled, and coming from high school and seeing that, it's crazy. I wanted to suit up right then and there."
The excitement continued as Pitt scored on the game-opening drive and then forced Florida State to punt. But the Seminoles intercepted a pass on the Panthers' next drive and controlled the game from there on out.
"I was so hyped for it: we drove down the field and scored and then we forced a punt," Amara recounted. "There was so much momentum for that first drive, I just knew we were going to score. It was the first ACC game, it was Monday night, it was on TV; there was so much momentum that we just had to score, and we did.
"Then once we got stopped and they scored and scored again, it was like a balloon getting popped. But people are it was a blowout or something, and really Pitt just had some things to take care of. Florida State had a perfect game; there's nothing you can do about that."
Amara made his commitment to Pitt in June and has remained steadfast in that pledge ever since, but Monday night gave him an opportunity to do a little recruiting of his own, as the coaching staff had a dozen or so top uncommitted targets in attendance.
"I talked to a lot of recruits," Amara said. "I talked to (Washington running back) Shai McKenzie, I talked to Montae Nicholson, I talked to (Buffalo Canisius running back) Qadree Ollison; I talked to a lot of recruits. They were all speechless, just like I was. The environment was that crazy; you had to be there to believe it.
"When (Pitt freshman running back) James Conner was running the ball, I said to Qadree, 'That could be you.'"
Conner was one of 11 true freshmen who saw the field for Pitt in the opener, and that fact wasn't lost on Amara, 6'2" 190, who hopes to see playing time in his first year as a Panther, too.
"The coaches were all like, 'Hey Pat, you see this? It could be you doing this next year,'" Amara said. "I can say this: not many people going to work harder than me. I will do anything I can to help the team win.
"Seeing them lose made me hurt. Seeing Conner and everybody, with how hard they worked, it hurt. We're going to get it over the top."
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