October 5, 2006

Hurricanes forecasted in December for Pitt

Most travelers visit Pittsburgh for a weekend in December is if they are home for the holidays, or are a die-hard Steelers fan in town for a game. From the looks of Pitt's recruiting schedule, it also seems to becoming a popular spot for athletes from Florida, as a group of five talented athletes from the same team, Oakland Park Northeast, may visit Pittsburgh in December.

"I've never seen snow before," Northeast linebacker Josh Hartigan said. "I'm not a fan of the cold, but it'll be all right if we're having fun up there. We all kind of planned a trip back (to Pittsburgh) since we went to their (summer) camp."

These are just a few of the seniors who have led the Hurricanes to an impressive turnaround in 2006. They were 0-7 a year ago, but have gotten off to a 4-1 start so far this season. Hartigan says this group of seniors has been through a lot, reminding themselves what it felt like to be 0-7 a year ago, and look to improve each week. By looking at the number of individuals on this team that have Division-I offers, it's easy to see how this team can make such a turn around.

"A lot of kids, after last season, were talking about leaving," Hartigan said. "A lot of guys weren't sure what they wanted to do. We didn't want to go through another year like that. The kids that didn't leave, there were only three that left, the rest of us were basically 'It's our senior year, it's not going to happen again.' We don't get big-headed. We've just tried our best to make our season better. We've added a lot of young players, like our offensive line, where we added some junior-varsity guys. We all just basically stuck together, and came together as a team. We have more of a senior leadership and try to help the coaches as best they can."

Hartigan himself has eight offers, including Pitt, Iowa State, Tennessee, N.C. State, Akron, Toledo, South Florida, Wisconsin and Central Florida. He is looking for a place where he feels he is needed.

While he didn't indicate any favorites, with his option of enrolling early, Hartigan sounds like has it narrowed down to a couple of schools. He has already taken an official visit to NC State.

"I'm only interested in the schools who are interested in me," Hartigan said. "That's what my coach tells me all the time. The ones that call me are the ones that are going to get visits. I'm planning to go to Pittsburgh, and possibly Iowa State, soon. "

Last week the Hurricanes fell behind 25-0 to Ely but scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. They had the ball back with a chance to win it but threw an interception.

Northeast has not clinched its playoff spot yet, so despite the 4-1 record, Hartigan says the players are still focused on what they have to do. Up next for the Hurricanes, a match up with Cypress Bay. Cypress Bay is led by Pitt commit, Anthony "Buddy" Jackson. Currently, the Hurricanes have the top rushing defense in the county. Hartigan said, "They are a well coached team."

"I've done pretty well," Hartigan said. "I'm not really up on my stats. I just try to help the team. We're doing pretty good, so that's all that matters."

Hartigan has been playing primarily outside linebacker for the Hurricanes. Hartigan said, "They have been using me some at wide receiver. I have good hand. Every time they have called my number so far the quarterback has been sacked or throws an uncatchable ball. I will get a few catches before the season is over."

Tony Greco can be contacted at pittpath@hotmail.com..

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