Former Irontonian Fritz verbally commits to Pitt

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2001

DUBLIN, Ohio – Eric Fritz is not a patient person.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

DUBLIN, Ohio – Eric Fritz is not a patient person. That lack of patience to wait his turn to play plus the offer from a school he really liked was the perfect combination to help him choose a place to attend college next fall.

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The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Fritz made his decision early as he gave a verbal commitment to play his college football at the University of Pittsburgh. The official letter-of-intent day if Feb. 5.

"The Big East teams were attractive, but having a chance to play early was the big thing. I hate to sit and watch," said Fritz who has been a four-year starter for Dublin Coffman High School, a Columbus suburb.

"They said it depends on me (if he plays early), but I could come in and play. I’m going to play defense there and I’ve watched enough of their practices that I think I can go in and play."

Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Indiana, and Georgia Tech were among the schools who recruited Fritz, considered one of the top linemen in Ohio. But Ohio State’s standoffish approach and Pittsburgh enthusiasm made Fritz’s decision easier.

"A couple of weeks ago, if Ohio State had talked to me, I would have gone there. But Pittsburgh was all over me. (Head coach Walt Harris) had a lot to do with it, but the defensive line coach had the most to do with it (Junko)," Fritz said. "Pitt was nice to me all the time. I fit in well with all the guys. And Ohio State sort of blew me off like they didn’t want me and Pittsburgh really wanted me."

Fritz originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps to Ohio State. The elder Fritz was a first team All-American guard for Ohio State, a two-time All-Big Ten first team selection, and former Associated Press Class AA Lineman of the Year for the Ironton Fighting Tigers.

Dad, who is a good friend of Harris, wasn’t upset that his son chose a different school.

"I’m excited for him. It’s fun. He’s had a good time with (the recruiting process), but he’s tired of it," Ken Fritz said. "Recruiting is a lot different than when I was in school. Now, if you don’t commit pretty quick, you might lose out. But I think this is going to fit him well. Pitt is a great environment."

Eric Fritz, who benches 370 pounds, also liked Pitt’s prospects as a potential power in the Big East.

"I think the program is coming along well. They’re getting the right guys and, if they get a few more of the right guys, it’s good to go," Fritz said.

Eric’s mother is the former Terri Cunningham of Ironton. His grandmother is Mary Thompson of Ironton.