- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Meeting Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst for the first time, Jaleel Hytchye (Cincinnati/LaSalle) immediately got a feel for the kind of coach he is.
“You can tell he loves to do it because he loves to do it,” the four-star cornerback said. “He’s goofy, laughing with us. He’s a real good guy.”
The No. 24 cornerback nationally, Hytchye was making his first official visit of the process, heading to Pitt. Going into the visit, Hytchye said if he got the right feeling at Pitt -- or any school for that matter while on a visit -- he would not hesitate to commit.
That didn't happen at Pitt as Hytchye left uncommitted, but he appreciated that Chryst and the Pitt staff did not pressure him into a decision.
“He was saying he wanted me there and all that other stuff but said you got to make the right decision for you,” Hytchye said. “He said as long as we keep communicating back and forth he’ll let me know where he’s at and I’ll let him know where I’m at and he said hopefully that it’s Pitt.”
Chryst’s head coaching career got off to a poor start with a 2-4 start, but the Panthers turned their season around and finished 6-6 and bowl-eligible. Talking with freshman host Ryan Lewis and other freshmen such as Rushel Shell, Hytchye got a feel that the program is in the right direction.
“They can see how good they’re going to be in about two or three years,” Hytchye said. “They can see everyone has a vision and they got a lot of younger players on the team. They said you just got to come in and grind and maybe I can take their position. I was like ‘Yeah, I will be.’ ”
Hytchye spent much of Saturday and Sunday in meetings with the coaches and academic counselors, but Saturday night the recruits made it to the Pitt basketball game. Hytchye liked the attention the Pitt fans were showing him and the other recruits.
The visit helped Pitt as Hytchye got to see what he needed to and had an opportunity to build a relationship with the staff and players. He said the Panthers remain in his top group, which also includes Arizona State, Kentucky, Northwestern with Louisville and Penn State hanging around.
He will receive an in-home visit from Northwestern on Monday, and he will officially visit the Wildcats the weekend of Jan. 11. Pitt assistants Joe Rudolph and Matt House are coming Thursday. Louisville will be in Wednesday.
The Cardinals are making a late run at Hytchye after lightly recruiting him the last several months.
“While I was on the [Pitt] visit, they gave me a call and wanted to jump in. The cornerbacks coach is looking for playmakers at the corner position, some ball-hawking people,” Hytchye said. “… And they said the defensive coordinator [Vance Bedford] coached Joe Haden and some other guys, too, and said he’d hope to get a chance meet me and come for a visit.”
511dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert