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Jordan Whitehead is a very big deal for Pitt football. The Central Valley cornerback, who committed to Pitt in October, is the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania by and a consensus four-star recruit.

So it would also be a very big deal if Pitt were to lose him.

Whitehead was prepared to graduate high school early and enroll at Pitt in January. But after former Pitt head coach Paul Chryst left to take the same position at his alma mater Wisconsin, Whitehead changed course. He joined Central Valley’s basketball team and will remain in high school through the end of the school year.

Whitehead told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that he was “90 percent” sure he would sign with Pitt on letter-of-intent day, Feb. 4.

Whitehead’s high school football coach, Mark Lyons, said that might as well be 100 percent.

“He said it publicly that he respects coach Chryst, knows (Wisconsin) is a place he grew up, that’s where his family is,” Lyons said. “He understands that’s important to people. He’s not going to hold that grudge. That’s part of the process. He recognizes that. It’s part of the business. It has no bearing on him wanting to continue his career at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Lyons was a part of Whitehead’s recruitment process dating back to his sophomore year, going on unofficial visits with him. Even though West Virginia, Penn State and Ohio State reached out to Whitehead after Chryst left, Lyons insists that Whitehead’s ties to Pittsburgh will keep him from de-committing from the program.

“I just think it came to him being relaxed where he felt comfortable and also where he felt he was going to have an impact immediately instead of later,” Lyons said. “Plus the fact that his mom and dad are close. They work in the city. Family’s very important to him and he wants his family around to watch him play.”

If Whitehead does stick with Pitt, he’ll be expected to make an immediate impact.

“You saw him take games over, said West Allegheny coach Bob Palko, whose Indians lost twice to Central Valley this past season, including the WPIAL Championship at Heinz Field. “You know you have somebody special when they take a game over.”

“He does play cornerback pretty well but he’s also pretty special once he gets his hands on the ball,” Lyons said. “I think immediately getting him in on special teams and returning kicks is maybe the quickest way to get him acclimated to the speed of the college game.”

The 6-0, 180-pound Whitehead notched 2,400 yards from scrimmage along with 87 tackles and six interceptions in his senior season, statistics that coaches say have just as much to do with his on-the-field mental acuity as his physicality.

“I think what really separates him is his ability at the next level to have a great mental code, understand the game at that level and withstand the Central Valley Jordan Whiteheadphysicality,” Lyons said.

Pitt could use Whitehead’s playmaking in its secondary, which struggled mightily last season. New Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was formerly defensive coordinator at Michigan State, and his defensive background could be a factor in convincing Whitehead to stay a Panther.

“Somebody like that, once he gets comfortable playing there and learning the techniques he needs to learn, is going to be extremely exciting to watch,” Palko said. “Not only because of what he can do as an athlete, but he’s a really dynamic person. He’s always smiling. He’s a different kind of guy. He’s special.”

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