Tight end Jason Collier, the 14th player to pledge Pitt’s 2019 recruiting class, throws the shot put and discus for West Deptford (N.J.) High School.
That could have created a scheduling conflict this spring because most of his football buddies lift weights after school — and during track practice — in the team’s offseason conditioning program.
If it was a problem, Collier knew only one way to handle it: show up at 5:15 every morning and work out until 7 a.m. before classes start.
“He was the first guy at the door,” West Deptford coach and athletic director Jason Morrell said.
Couple other things about Collier: He’s only 16, won’t turn 17 until next month and stands 6-foot-7, 280 pounds.
“He looks like he’s 250,” Morrell said. “That’s the crazy thing.”
And, then, there is this:
I’m going to be a Pittsburgh panther pic.twitter.com/C0Oj7l9Ulc
— Jason Collier (@Jasonc88) June 23, 2018
Until this weekend when he wanted to announce his commitment to Pitt, he was a stranger to social media. And you can bet those college coaches who are recruiting him noticed.
“One thing all the coaches said throughout this process is he is one of the few kids who has no social media,” Morrell said. “He’s not posting anything on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
“He’s just a down-home, south Jersey kid who is really working hard. His work ethic is second to none.
“He’s not a kid you have to worry about getting in fights in the alley or getting drunk in the woods. He’s really pretty quiet for such a big stature.”
His stature is impressive — “He was always that kid who overmatched everybody,” Morrell said. — but there’s still room for Collier to grow.
“After he gets on the meal plan at the University of Pittsburgh, he could be 300 pounds,” he said.
Is offensive tackle in his future?
Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi tried a similar move with Brian O’Neill, who became an All-ACC tackle and a second-round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings this spring.
“There aren’t a lot of 6-7, 300 pounds tight ends,” Morrell said, “but there are a lot of 6-7, 300-pound tackles in the NFL.”
Pitt has four tight ends on its roster: graduate transfer Will Gragg, sophomore Tyler Sear and redshirt freshmen Grant Carrigan and Charles Reeves Jr.
Plus, Collier, rated a two-star prospect by Rivals.com, is one of two tight ends from Pitt’s Class of 2019, which is now ranked 25th in the nation by Rivals. He joins junior college transfer Travis Koontz.
Collier also has offers from Duke, Maryland, Virginia and Syracuse.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.