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Murrysville native Hickey carves out fine career on O-line with Syracuse | TribLIVE.com
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Murrysville native Hickey carves out fine career on O-line with Syracuse

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 20, 2014 10:06 p.m
SeanHickeySyracuseFranklinRegional
Syracuse's Sean Hickey runs drills before the start of a game against Louisville on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Syracuse, N.Y.

Sean Hickey was thrilled when the Pitt coaching staff started recruiting him.

He had been a fan while growing up in Murrysville, and he often thought about playing for Pitt.

But the school’s interest in Hickey waned prior to signing day in 2010, and its coaches never offered the scholarship he might have accepted in an instant.

“For whatever reason, Dave Wannstedt and his staff didn’t feel like I was good enough to play at Pitt,” said Hickey, a Franklin Regional graduate.

Franklin Regional coach Greg Botta wasn’t happy about the snub of one of his top all-time players.

“They felt his feet weren’t quick enough,” Botta said. “I went round and round with the people down there. I won’t say any names, but I was furious.”

After choosing Syracuse over Boston College and Illinois and developing into one of the ACC’s top left tackles, Hickey looks upon Pitt’s disinterest as “a blessing in disguise.”

“Syracuse was a great fit,” he said. “I might have went (to Pitt) based on emotion. (Childhood dreams) can cloud your judgment.”

Hickey finally is returning to Pittsburgh on Saturday to play his penultimate college football game. The Orange (3-7, 1-5) won’t qualify for a bowl, but the fifth-year senior and three-year starter has unfinished business.

Syracuse played Pitt in the Carrier Dome the past two seasons, and when the Panthers won last year 17-16, someone rolled up Hickey’s ankle and he was forced to miss most of the game.

After being named honorable mention All-ACC, he contemplated entering the NFL Draft but said he was projected only as a third-, fourth- or fifth-round choice.

CBSSports.com rates Hickey as a third- or fourth-round pick next year, but for now he is focusing on the final two games of his career.

Syracuse was 8-5 and 7-6 the past two seasons, including 2-0 in bowls, but the Orange bring a 1-7 slump into Heinz Field.

In the 27-10 loss to Duke last week, Syracuse was missing 12 regulars, including three offensive linemen.

Hickey is the only member of that group who hasn’t suffered a significant injury, but even he limped to the sideline before returning later in the game.

That’s nothing new. Botta said Hickey played through a series of injuries in high school.

“He was an inspiration to everybody around him,” he said. “He said he just wanted to contribute.”

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said Hickey (6-foot-5, 291 pounds) offers more than a big body to protect ball carriers.

“The one thing he has done well is step outside himself as a leader,” Shafer said. “He’s a quiet kid. He has done a nice of leading by example.”

Notes: Pitt starting offensive left tackle Adam Bisnowaty won’t play after hurting his foot in the North Carolina game. … Redshirt freshman tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith will make his second start of the season. … Backup tight end Scott Orndoff (foot) also is out, but wide receiver Manasseh Garner and defensive tackle Tyrique Jarrett are expected to return from foot injuries, coach Paul Chryst said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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