Penn State's run on offensive line recruits from the WPIAL is officially in full swing.
One day after landing Fox Chapel center Miles Dieffenbach and a month after getting a commitment from Penn-Trafford guard Luke Graham, the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night received a verbal pledge from Tom Ricketts, a 6-foot-6, 265-pound tackle from North Allegheny High School.
"It's always been in the back of my mind, thinking I wanted to go to Penn State since I visited there [April 7-8]. I was about 60 percent sure, but I went home to analyze it,'' Ricketts said. "Ironically, the night before I was talking to my dad that I was thinking about getting this over with, when I heard Miles - who I know and never thought would be going to Penn State - had committed.''
A couple of months ago, few thought Ricketts would wind up at Penn State, either. While Dieffenbach is the son of Pitt's tennis coach, Ricketts' father, also named Tom, was a captain on the Panther football team 21 years ago and a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers as an offensive tackle.
"Not only my dad, but my mom was on the swimming team, and I've have a lot of other relatives go to Pitt. It's an eye-opener. But, I want to be my own person and make my own path, and my parents support that,'' said the younger Ricketts, who was a Pitt fan through his youth. "I just like the family style [at Penn State]. The vibe there, I just fell in love with it.
"Never in a million years did I think I would end up at Penn State.''
Pitt was Ricketts' other finalist. He also strongly considered Stanford, Maryland, Boston College, Florida State and Virginia before becoming the seventh member of Penn State's 2010 recruiting class.
Ricketts' was an Associated Press Class AAAA second-team all-state pick last season as a starting guard for the Tigers. He's considered to possess good quickness for his size, has a good wingspan and the frame to put on more weight.
"I was working on him. Me and Miles both were,'' said Graham. "We finally got him to make the right decision.''
Ricketts first met Graham and Dieffenbach - a first-team all-stater himself last fall - in middle school, when they played AAU basketball against each other. At the time, Ricketts, despite his bloodlines, thought his future would be on the hardwood.
"I remember Luke towering over all of us, and Miles made all his free throws,'' Ricketts said. "I didn't play football until I was in seventh grade. I didn't like it as a young kid, and my dad really didn't want me to get into it. Thank goodness he didn't - I was a skinny kid.''
Surprisingly, Ricketts has never attended a Penn State football game, instead spending most of his time at Pitt. However, it looks like, with Graham and Dieffenbach, he'll be able to feel right at home at University Park.
"Having two friends there,'' Ricketts said, "was a big plus for Penn State.''