By Matt Popchock


Tribune-Review Pitt football beat writer Jerry DiPaola is reporting that Upper St. Clair outside linebacker Dakota Conwell has reneged on his commitment to the Panthers, and will instead play at Arizona this fall.

Conwell made his verbal commitment to Pitt over the summer while Todd Graham was preparing for his first and, ultimately, only season as head coach. Graham’s surprise departure, and the coincidental departure of his staff, inspired Conwell to travel west and visit the Wildcats.

Arizona assistant Tony Gibson, the one chiefly responsible for keeping Conwell in Pittsburgh while he worked at Pitt, also courted Conwell away from said program.

Conwell says Arizona defensive coordinating Jeff Casteel has promised more pass coverage responsibilities, and more field to work with in his 3-3-5 scheme, as opposed to the 4-3 defense that new Pitt defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable wants to install, which led Conwell to change his mind.

Huxtable, whom Conwell has notified of his decision, is expected to meet with the Upper St. Clair product one last time this week.

In 2011 Conwell, as Upper St. Clair’s dual-threat quarterback, led the team to its first Great Southern Conference title since 2006, when older brother Dane was quarterback, before a lower-body injury forced him out of the WPIAL Class AAAA Semifinals and limited him to just a few snaps in USC’s Quad-A championship game loss. With Conwell as a starting linebacker, USC’s defense was the least scored-upon unit in Quad-A last season.

This leaves Pitt’s 2012 recruiting class, unofficially, at 18 players overall, according to multiple sources. That class still has three linebackers; Woodland Hills standout Mike Caprara evened things out by committing over the weekend, joining Johnstown’s Alkwan Williams and Gillman School (Baltimore) product Devon Porchia.

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