It’s tough to walk away from a sure thing.
Neshannock’s Jimmy Medure was about as close as you can get to that in the college recruiting process: Scholarship offers from a number of programs.
Yet, instead of taking an offer, Medure decided to take a chance — all in the hopes of realizing his dream.
Medure announced via Twitter in February that he will be a preferred walk on as a linebacker with the University of Pittsburgh football team, turning down offers from the Air Force Academy and Duquesne University.
“I had the offer from Air Force, but I knew deep in my heart that Pitt was where I belonged,” Medure said. “Growing up I was a Pitt fan, it has always been a dream of mine to play Pitt football. Having the opportunity to go there and actually contribute to the team was a dream come true. I walked in for my visit and I just knew that’s where I needed to be.”
Medure turned down two Division I offers, as well as offers from Division II programs Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst. He visited Pitt’s campus days after taking a visit to Colorado Springs.
After some deliberation with his family, it was clear that staying close to home offered the most appeal.
“I went to Air Force, I got back and the next day I went to Pitt,” Medure said. “I was checking both of those places out. I went out there and it was a great experience, a great college. But there was a lot of other factors. Military factors, being away from my family for awhile. It restricted my decision there.
“When I got to Pitt, I took my visit and saw everything, the campus and the athletic and academic part and I just knew during that visit that it was the place for me. I talked with my family about it the next day and, that night, I contacted my coach (recruiting coordinator Dann Kabala) and told him this is where I want to be.”
When Medure steps on campus in June, it will be without a scholarship. That doesn’t mean he can’t earn one during his likely five-year tenure with the Panthers, following a redshirt in the upcoming year.
As a preferred walk on, Medure’s spot on the roster will be guaranteed, even without a scholarship.
Yet until he has one in hand, he’ll bring the same work ethic that he brought during his time at Neshannock.
“They told me ‘if you come in here and work hard, there’s no doubt in our mind that you can earn a scholarship,’ ” Medure said. “I plan on getting there, working hard and doing anything that it takes to separate myself to earn that chance.”
Medure was a two-way player for the Lancers, playing linebacker and tight end, and finished his high school tenure with 21 catches for 516 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games.
He also has been a part of a successful turn for the Neshannock football program, one that, under the direction of head coach Fred Mozzocio, has been to the WPIAL Class A semifinals three straight years.
When Mozzocio and staff made the move to Neshannock, Medure knew he was a step closer to realizing his dream.
“Growing up in a small town like this, coming from a small school like Neshannock, you dream about that kind of stuff,” Medure said. “When coach Mo moved into Neshannock my sophomore year, I knew my dream seemed a little more real with everything he brought to the table. I owe it all to those coaches, coach Mozzocio, coach (Ryan) Firmi, coach Rocco (Fazio).
Medure also credits the rest of the Lancers coaching staff in Jeff and Ron DePorzio, Mark Hasson, Frank Antuono, Frank Bongivengo Sr. and Mark Zingaro.
He also credited former football coaches Jeff Sanfilippo and Paul Wawrzynski, strength and conditioning coach Terry Grossetti and his father, Jim, for helping shape someone who would become a Division I athlete.
“They really developed me into someone who can handle something like this and prepare me for the obstacles that are ahead,” Medure said.
All of the credit doesn’t fall on the coaching staff, however. Mozzocio knows that Medure brings more to the table than just his impact on the field.
“I thought Jimmy was definitely going to land somewhere,” Mozzocio said. “I know what a good football player he is and what a great student-athlete and person he is. I knew someone would find a great player and person when he committed. Lucky for them, they’re getting a good young man. It’s his lifelong dream and I back him 100 percent. I’m sure he’ll go down there right away and make a name for himself.
“It was a difficult decision, especially with the offer from Air Force. It was a tough process but, at the end of the day, that’s been his dream. He was afforded an opportunity and earn a scholarship and that’s something he wants to do.”
Adjustments will have to be made as Medure transitions from the high school game to the college scene. But when Medure catches up to the game, there will only be one change.
The jersey he puts on won’t be the red and white he has become accustomed to the past four years. It will be blue and gold, both a confirmation of a dream achieved and the realization that there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“I’m just going to bring it back to what I learned here at Neshannock,” Medure said. “I’ll see all the same stuff, just a different speed and a new color.
“I just can’t wait to see what it’s like to step onto Heinz Field as a Pitt Panther.”