New Panthers getting jumpstart on college careers
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tra'Von Chapman is well aware of all he's giving up. The last semester of high school is supposed to be the time of your life. There's prom. There's hanging out with your friends. The countdown to graduation. There's the long summer anticipating what awaits in the fall.
Yet the lure of lazy days didn't appeal to the dual threat quarterback out of Kent, Ohio. He knew he wanted to play college football at Pittsburgh. And he knew he wanted to start as quickly as possible.
So when Chapman finished up his final semester at Theodore Roosevelt High on Jan. 4, he packed his stuff. The next day, he drove to Pitt's campus. Two days after that, he was sitting in a freshman English class.
Welcome to the rest of your life kid.
"I wanted to work," Chapman said. "I didn't want to play basketball. I don't think track was needed. I had all my credits. I thought, 'Hey, why not just get a big jump on school and why not be with my teammates, be around the place that I love?' I'm very serious about football, so why not take that chance."
Chapman wasn't alone. Two Pitt signees — tight end Scott Orndoff and defensive end Shakir Soto — also graduated from high school early and enrolled at Pitt this week eager to get on with the rest of their lives.
Unlike the rest of Pitt's 2013 recruiting class, Chapman, Orndoff and Soto won't have to find a way to juggle football and school simultaneously when they arrive on campus over the summer. By then the trio will have a semester of college behind them, know their way around campus and have spring football under their belt.
"This whole week has just been school," Soto said. "I started off with school and football will work its way in."
Soto didn't get much blowback from friends and family back in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., about bolting. He'll head back in a few weeks for the annual football banquet at G.A.R. High. By then Soto and his size-17 shoes should even know how to navigate Pitt's somewhat confusing campus in Oakland.
Asked if he was homesick, Soto just laughed.
"I'm not missing high school," he said.
The Panthers also welcomed defensive lineman Tyrique Jarrett from Milford (N.Y.) Academy and welcomed home wide receiver Dontez Ford, a Pittsburgh native who is transferring to Pitt after spending some time at Syracuse.
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