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July 26, 2013Rori Blair took another step in his journey back to the field Friday when the Upper St. Clair defensive end committed to Pitt.
"I pretty much love everything about Pitt," Blair told Panther-Lair.com. "I have a great relationship with the coaches, and it's really about staying in Pittsburgh. This is my city."
Blair committed to Pitt while visiting the Panthers' South Side facility Friday afternoon. He and his family sat down with head coach Paul Chryst, and that was when the 6'3" 215-pound defensive end prospect delivered the news.
"He was having a conversation with me and my parents, just a regular conversation, and then toward the end we were about to leave and my parents asked some questions about scholarships and how everything will be, all the details.
"After that I told him I was committing. He was happy. He was very happy."
One of the details that Blair's family discussed with Chryst was the process for enrolling early, as Blair plans to enroll at Pitt in January. He will be able to do that since he is entering his fifth fall semester in high school, a unique circumstance that was caused by a scary event.
Last April, Blair suffered a stroke. As he emerged from critical condition, football was an afterthought; instead, he had to focus on regaining powers of speech and memory. But he fought through the adversity and worked back to the point where doctors cleared him to get back on the football field.
Once he was cleared, Blair had to get back into the recruiting game. He was considered one of the top recruits in the class of 2013 as a junior, but with his senior season of 2012 lost while recovering, Blair had to start over. Pitt was very interested in his potential but wanted to see him in action to make sure he was fully back to his previous abilities.
So the coaches hosted Blair at a prospect camp in June, and defensive ends coach John Palermo was convinced. The coaches made it clear that they wanted to land Blair, but with such a unique situation, he initially wanted to see what else was out there. Interest was coming from Ohio State, West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin, among others, and Blair had some desire to explore those options.
Before July was over, though, Blair knew Pitt was the right school for him.
"I was always thinking I wanted to come to Pitt but I wanted to see other things," he said. "So I went to the Ohio State camp and worked hard, but I didn't feel like I did at Pitt. And West Virginia, I went there, too, and I didn't really like the area.
"At Pitt, I knew everything there and I loved it."
Blair is the 16th recruit to commit to Pitt in the class of 2014 and the second defensive end, joining Cincinnati recruit Shane Roy.