Redshirt freshman Tom Ricketts will transfer to Pitt and is no longer with the Penn State football program, PantherLair.com is reporting. Ricketts was a four-star lineman out of North Allegheny High School in the 2010 recruiting class. Per NCAA rules, Ricketts will be forced to sit out 2011 and will have three years of eligibility left beginning in 2012.
More after the jump...
Ricketts' commitment to Penn State was something of a surprise, to Pitt fans at least. Hailing from the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, both of his parents were varsity athletes at Pitt, and both his father and grandfather played football for the Panthers. But that didn't stop Ricketts from choosing Penn State over offers from Pitt, Boston College, Florida State, Maryland and Stanford. He committed in June of 2009 and was a member of an impressive offensive line haul that also included Alex Mateas and Miles Dieffenbach (another Tom Bradley coup from inside the WPIAL Wall).
Once on campus, Ricketts had some issues with injuries, dealing with a broken hand and a throat infection that kept him from traveling with the team to the Outback Bowl in January. Ricketts also had trouble keeping the proper weight on, according to some sources. He checked in at 266 in high school and is listed (for now) on GoPSUSports.com at 271.
According to Ron Musselman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ricketts was homesick and not enjoying his time at Penn State.
"I just signed the papers -- everything's official," Ricketts said today. "It just wasn't working for me at Penn State. I was homesick. I made the decision to go there when I was 17.
"I'm just real excited to be back home now and playing for Pitt."
So what does this mean going forward? Ricketts was likely a third-string tackle heading into 2011, so his absence likely won't make too much of a difference. Depth is always a good thing, especially with promising players like Ricketts, but there are other quality linemen that can fill the depth chart. Players like Angelo Mangiro, Donovan Smith and Ryan Nowicki will now be one step closer to playing time. As for Pitt, they add another transfer to go along with a relatively decent 2012 recruiting class.
Though he didn't fit in with Penn State, Pitt also gets an offensive tackle with high expectations, something that should fit right into their future. We interviewed Chris Peak, editor of PantherLair.com, the Pitt Panthers Rivals affiliate, who had this to say:
Pitt will graduate four offensive linemen after this season, including both projected starting tackles; plus, the Panthers only signed one offensive lineman in the class of 2011. So adding a player with Ricketts’ pedigree should be a benefit for 2012 and the years after that. You never know how transfers will work out, but on the surface, Ricketts appears to be a good addition to Pitt’s roster.
This could have an effect on the current recruiting class, as well. With one less body on the depth chart, the staff could take another lineman, namely Adam Bisnowaty, another Pittsburgh area recruit with a Pitt offer, or Greg Pyke, a Maryland recruit that is also a highly sought lacrosse recruit. However, the staff doesn't need to use the extra scholarship on another offensive linemen, as there are other positions of need.
We wish Tom the best of luck in his future endeavors. Seeing as how he will be finished playing at Pitt before the renewal of the Pitt-Penn State series, we wish him unbridled personal success while with the Panthers. But with camp opening this week, it's time to look forward to those players left with the team.