You May Want to Read This in Private

It isn’t often I open an email first thing in the morning then spend 20 minutes bawling like a baby… but it has happened just now.

Our POV family’s reader and commenter, Bob Landel (Old Pitt Grad), sent me an email and video about his  grandson, Ben Landel, who is 17 years old and battling cancer. Ben Landel is a high school track & field and soccer athlete from New Jersey and is toughening it out in a as-serious-as-it-gets battle for his health and future.

I don’t think I’m breaking a confidence in sharing Old Pitt Grad’s email to me with you all, even if so I want you to know how Old Pitt Grad feels. As a side note Mike Gallagher is James Conner’s surrogate father and helped raise James from childhood up in Erie, PA. .

I have had many conversations with Mike about his relationship with Conner, which led to some nice conversations with James himself, and I am just blown away by the long-term dedication that man had for a youngster who wasn’t even his kin.

Here’s that email:

A fellow named Mike Gallagher made this video at MetLife Stadium Friday evening.  I believe he is a close friend of the Conner family in Erie.  Obviously a big fan of James Conner, PITT and the Steelers.

This video is about my grandson and his fight against cancer.  By the way, Ben- my grandson, has had Brown, Yale, Navy, most importantly PITT, and a group of 15 smaller schools  interested in him for track as a Junior in high school.  He also played on the undefeated NJ State Championship soccer team last fall; # 11 nationally.

Pray for him.

 

What struck me, beyond the two principal subjects in Ben and James, is Ben’s strong support system he has surrounding him.  Obviously his family, but that’s not all.

It is easy, as a guy, to be impressed with Ben’s girlfriend – the strikingly attractive tall blonde by his side at all times – but as a Man I have to say she gets my utmost respect for sticking with a young man who just may not be in her future. A lot of boyfriends or girlfriends would have cut and run – she is sticking it out.

That my friends is a definition of young love that stands apart.

So watch the video, see what true strength and compassion is and how powerful it can be when passed on from one man to another… and how a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old can remind us what life is really all about.

I do not pray often; I believe in faith and good actions as the path for my life. But Bob, I’ll take a moment and send a prayer out for you, your family and especially for Ben right now.

Thank you for sharing this with me and to our POV family – thank you for reading it.

Reed

 

77 thoughts on “You May Want to Read This in Private

  1. Reed that is such a sad situation for one so young, my heart goes out to him and all those who love him. This young man’s attitude in the midst this sickness is uplifting. Being a man of faith I want to say a short prayer for him.

    Lord Father I pray that you in your infinite love and mercy would heal this young man and give grace to all who love, care and support him, in Jesus name amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kiski,
    Beautiful prayer to which I add Amen!
    Also, thank all of you for your kind words and prayers in previous comment section over the loss of my mom. You guys on here are the best!!!!!
    In Appreciation,
    Jim (Pittman4ever)

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  3. OPG, you should be, and probably are, the proudest grandfather on earth. Not only is your grandson inspirational, the love and devotion of all involved here just reaches out and grabs you.

    On a (very slight) side note … while there are times that you want to wring Antonio Brown’s neck, he remains one of the most passionate athletes I’ve ever seen.

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  4. A morning for us to deeply reflect..with the loss of a POV brother’s mother and the sickness of a son.

    Reed, like James Conner is so much more than a football player- you have created a blog the is far above and beyond sports.

    God’s blessing on all who hurt, are sick or in mourning.

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  5. That video, and Ben’s story, is powerful and compelling — situations like this bring everything back in perspective.

    Prayers for Ben and his family.

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  6. There is no greater kick in the gut than when a Dr tells you that you have cancer. Ben is a mighty courageous young man keeping his spirits up like he does. I wish him all the best moving forward with prayers and positive thoughts.

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  7. It is good that warriors such as they meet in the struggle of life. Today, it is life. “Ten Bears”

    I think the POV community experienced a collective moment of silence and lifted up Ben this morning. I will share his story with others in the prayer chain.

    OPG & Pittman – My family will continue to pray for you and your families. That is a promise. OPG-Please keep us updated on Ben as he continues to fight. Remain vigilant in prayer my friend.

    As to number 30, well done. You didn’t touch one kid today. You touched the kid in all of us. Use your stage for the good, big fella. The payoff is bigger than any paycheck you will receive on earth. Thank you.

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  8. On a separate note I got this offer in an email this week – chance to win tickets to the Pitt – North Carolina game…

    Pitt Football Ticket Giveaway from ABODO Apartments

    Need football tickets, even though you’re broke? We’re partnering with ABODO Apartments to give away two tickets to the Panthers vs. Tar Heels game on November 9.

    All you have to do is head over to their site here and answer 10 questions about Pittsburgh sports trivia. If you get all 10 right, you’ll be entered to win the tickets. Pretty easy.

    ABODO Apartments will announce the winner on their blog in the coming weeks.

    Got it? Good luck!

    Here is that link again:

    https://www.abodo.com/pittsburgh-pa/university-pittsburgh-apartments/campus#sweepstakes

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  9. Sports seem so trivial when we are confronted with life ending situations. You have my sincere sympathies, Reed. Best wishes for the strength to move on in the future.

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  10. Back to football issues…

    From some comments on the last article…

    I consider JJS a big question mark because of the injury and his lack of PT. That all raises a lot of concern for the OL overall as he’s one of the most experienced guys we have – with only 4 starts.

    Ike -we also read that Voytik had a cannon for an arm three years ago. Other players say complementary things about their teammates all the time… it means nothing.

    Did you see a cannon from Max at the Spring game at all.

    No one did. I have watched Browne running plays up close and personal and I’ll say his arm is about average for a D1 QB. Nothing to get excited about IMO.

    Pickett and MacVitte’s arms are better,especially Pickett.

    I hope he has a quick release because he’ll have a lot of pressure on him this season, especially without Aston.

    I think we are going to give up 25+ sacks at least… up from 9 last year.

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  11. With over 13,000 yards in high school, Browne must have a pretty good QB tool box to apply. The players say his arm is real strong, but is it also strong and accurate? That is the question. I’d like to hear more about the new fullback they are playing in camp, but as usual there is not much info coming out..

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  12. Thinking positive thoughts for you OPG.

    My son’s best friend from UPJ was one of the most personable, hard working energetic kids i have met.

    About a year out of college, cancer took him in less than 6 months. This kid had everything going for him.

    Our Doctors and scientists are making great strides, many more are surviving. Hopefully OPG’s grandson is one of them.

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  13. Good point VoR, He wasn’t a 5 star QB coming out of high school with a jelly arm. Although I get what you stated Reed. It could be he was more unsure of himself at the spring game and now has more confidence in the system??

    The new fullback is classified information and is being withheld by Boris Narduzzi… ike

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  14. Transcript of HCPN recap of Saturday’s scrimmage https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/scrimmage-standouts-impressive-youth-and-more-from-narduzzi

    including the following excerpt (note that Clark is playing)

    Oh boy, there’s a lot. Who impressed me is more, ‘Who shocked you?’ more than anything. It’s like, you know, I could go through a lot of names and I’d forget somebody. Both quarterbacks impressed me. But like I said, I’ll miss somebody. So who shocked me – who showed up that you weren’t sure what was going on? Again, Damarri Mathis continues to impress at the corner spot, as well as Maddox, but the shocking is him. Patrick Jones, at defensive end, with Rashad Weaver – both have been impressive. Inside, Shane Roy has been good. Linebacker, Elijah Zeise – I probably haven’t talked about him enough. He’s been very good. And again, didn’t shock me but very, very solid.

    Bryce Hargrove on the offensive line has done a nice job that you go, wow, he’s ready to go. He’s getting there. Flanagan, Clark both did a really, really nice job. And those two freshman tailbacks, AJ Davis and Todd Sibley, got a lot of reps and showed that they can make some plays with the ball in their hands. They just need more and we need to make sure that they’re doing the right thing all the time.

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  15. I’d start Pickett as a 4 year starter and move on. Everyone raves on the young man. Build for future not using one and dones.

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  16. The LA Chargers drew all of 21,000 fans for their pre-season opener. Of course, the StubHub Center where they will play the next 3 years seats 27,000.

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  17. im really starting to think pitt could have a very good secondary in the near future, if the things being said about mathis and miller and campbell are true…

    mathis-ford-miller-coleman would be a lineup that has all the physical tools you could want… then there’s guys like pinnock and campbell and motley when he returns from injury and dane jackson too. i know jackson looked bad at times as a true freshman but he made some very nice plays as well. not ready to declare his struggles last year were because he can’t hack it, equally likely they were because he was a true freshman. motley showed some flashes too last year before he got hurt.

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  18. Upitt that’s the one point(Pickett) I can agree with you on completely. I afraid that Browne will be the recipient of many of those sacks Reed is predicting. And if I’m correct on that scenario I don’t see Browne lasting much beyond the GT game as Pitt’s starting QB.

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  19. Agreed @ Upitt, although I let Browne have the first 3 games so as not to throw Pickett or McVittie to the wolves and destroy their confidence. If the backups aren’t pressing or passing the starters, we need new backups!

    Repeat, If the backups aren’t pressing and or passing the starters, we need new backups!

    That is why I still go after EJ Banks. You just do. Reaves is Eric Green Jr.!

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  20. Also I forget to send my prayers and well wishes to the OPG family and especially his grandson at this time. Hopefully his grandson will experience the same outcome that James Conner had after his diagnosis

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  21. If the PITT coaches would come out and say Pickett is the man and practicing lights out and will be the number 1 or 2 guy, then I’m all for it. Having a QB for 3 or 4 years would be great, actually fantastic!

    I caution everyone not to hold their breath though. That’s just not going to happen. imo, MacVittie runs just as well if not better than KP. PITT will not use Pickett this year and ruin his redshirt at this point. Barring many injuries of course.

    Sounds like some of the young D-Backs are stepping up, this is very encouraging.

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  22. interview with todd sibley over on rivals… said he got about 35 (!) carries during the scrimmage saturday at heinz…

    wonder how many AJ Davis got

    thunder n lightnin is coming… and it looks like the thunder half at least may be getting a lot of carries this year

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  23. Ike I agree that Pickett is unlikely to see the field anytime soon. Browne will be given every chance to either win or lose the job. If that doesn’t work out Dinucci will be given the nest chance to win the job. And if Pitt opens the season at 1 and 4 or 2 and 5 all bets are off on who will given the chance to pass/fail at QB.

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  24. Few if any solid qb’s will ever committ to a program that shows theybring a QB Transfer to start every year. That gets out.

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    1. The thing is when Narduzzi showed up there was NO QB depth as in ZERO. This is the last Grad Transfer QB we will see for years to come with Browne. BTW, I don’t care if Pickett is the second coming of Dan Marino, he has little chance of seeing the field this season & to suggest that he starts the season is laughable!
      Pickett will RS this year.

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  25. I completely agree jrn. At that point, we all would like to see a young QB given the chance. Seriously speaking, I don’t care who or which one it would be. This scenario reminds me of Dinucci playing in last years bowl game. Why in the world would PITT have played Manny Stocker?

    Seems to me, BD benefited from the experience and more importantly, the serious reps he received in the bowl game practices. I really do consider everything that happens with these coaches are done for a reason. A good reason.. ike

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  26. Upitt, I agree to some degree. Here is the thing about the word getting out. PITT is not about to bring in a 4 or 5 star QB recruit out of high school. See Jurkevic going to ND.

    Yet they did bring in Peterman, Browne, Savage and actually M Stocker as well, who may have brought in his brother Jazee. I’m thinking the grad transfer thingie has worked out well for PITT

    It works both ways but I would like to see a starting QB for 2 or 3 years at PITT.

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  27. The opposite scenario is also valid. That is if they bring in a grad transfer QB and they don’t give him a chance it’s unlikely many other grad transfer QB’s will come to Pitt to keep their hopes alive to enter the NFL the following season.

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  28. Florida has suspended 6 players for their opening game against, and get this, Michigan. WVU just had a player arrested for a DUI yesterday. This sort of crap goes on all over, not just college football but all walks of life. Stoopidity runs rampant in all of us. Some are just more stoopid and dam outright unlucky.

    Case in point. Alex Bookser. <<< He was dam lucky! Blair and Taleni, obviously not so much. …. ike

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  29. A starting QB for 2 or 3 years sounds great. Remember who the last Pitt QB was that started 3 years, some guy named Tiny. HAHA.

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  30. Sibley running with the 2’s. The question of the day might be which of our 3 returning RB’s is now running with the 3’s? Or is Narduzzi just trying to light a fire under the returning backs?

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  31. I’ll be very surprised if Pickett doesn’t redshirt this year and then compete for a starting job next year. I believe it was either Narduzzi or Watson who indicate that Browne was a good decision make while DiNucci was very good in thinking n his feet. I think DiNucci was not highly rted because of his weak arm, but he certainly produced during his high school days, and against good competition. I remember the HC who won the state title over Pine-Richland was very complimentary of him.

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  32. 2017 Pitt Football Camp, Day 12 Recap
    The Panthers Began the Third Week of Training Camp Monday

    PITTSBURGH—After a fun Sunday trip to Kennywood, the Pitt football team began the third week of training camp on Monday morning with a practice at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

    Head coach Pat Narduzzi had his regular morning media session before practice. After the workout, defensive coordinator Josh Conklin, special teams coordinator/running backs coach Andre Powell, defensive lineman Allen Edwards, placekicker Alex Kessman, running back Todd Sibley Jr. and defensive backs Henry Miller and Damarri Mathis.

    Coach Interview Videos: Pat Narduzzi | Josh Conklin | Andre Powell

    Player Interview Videos: Allen Edwards | Alex Kessman | Henry Miller | Todd Sibley Jr. | Damarri Mathis

    Below are transcripts from all eight media sessions.

    Head Coach Pat Narduzzi

    Opening statement:
    “It’s a beautiful Monday morning. Eleven practices in, and the guys are engaged. We had a great weekend and a very, very productive scrimmage on Saturday. I am going to guess that we had around 145 or 151 total reps that we got with special teams included. There was a lot of great, productive work from special teams to offense and defense. We finished up exactly the way we like to. I think that it is important for everybody to get into Heinz Field because you get to see who can play in that place and that environment—from a cornerback to a quarterback to a D-tackle to a kicker. We finished up at the end in a two-minute situation. [Alex] Kessman kicked a 52-yarder with noise going crazy. It was a pretty intense two-minute, and then we pulled the offense and defense, everybody, behind him and kind of huddled up. Guys were throwing hats at him and just trying to get on him and he put that thing through the middle. [The kick] was good, but it was more than good. It was through the middle, and it didn’t crawl through the bar. It probably would have been good from 62 or 70 yards.”

    On who impressed him during the scrimmage on Saturday:
    “Who impressed me? I guess it’s who shocked you more than anything. I could go through a lot of names and I would probably forget somebody. Both quarterbacks impressed me. But who shocked me and showed up when we weren’t really sure? Again, Damarri Mathis continues to impress at the corner spot, as well as [Avonte] Maddox. Patrick Jones II, the defensive end, with Rashad Weaver, have both been impressive. Inside, Shane Roy has been good. At linebacker, Elijah Zeise—I probably haven’t talked about him enough—has been really good. Again, he didn’t shock me but is very, very solid. Bryce Hargrove, on the offensive line, has done a nice job that you go, ‘wow, he’s ready to go.’ He’s getting there. [Matt] Flanagan and [Chris] Clark both did a really, really nice job. And those two freshmen tailbacks, A.J. Davis and Todd Sibley Jr. got a lot of reps and showed that they can make some plays on the ball. They just need more and we need to make sure that they are doing the right thing all the time.”

    On when he will tell the team who the starting quarterback is:
    “When it is evident to everybody.”

    On how much he thinks he will count on freshmen on defense:
    “We’ll find out. We are 11 days in with another 11 or 12 to go here until game week. So we’ll find out, but I am not afraid to put them out there. That’s why we’re getting this practice against everybody, so we can find out, ‘do you feel comfortable?’ If we feel comfortable out here, we’re going to feel comfortable in the game. If we have questions, like ‘oh, I don’t know,’ then we’re probably not going to put them out there.”

    On the attitude of Jordan Whitehead and Quintin Wirginis:
    “They really haven’t had as reduced of a role. They are getting a lot of reps in and they are getting their work in. They are reacting like you hope that they would. They’re great kids.”

    On what he has seen out of Dennis Briggs and Phil Campbell:
    “[Dennis] Briggs, [Phil] Campbell and another guy, Henry Miller, has had the lights turned on—and they are bright, florescent and there’s a lot of them. So Henry has gotten himself into the mix as well, but Briggs has done a great job, and so have Phil and Henry. Like I said, the lights came on for Henry. Phil has been doing a good job. The lights were on when camp started. Henry, the lights have turned on and he’s a big, athletic guy. Briggs has the edge, obviously, because of experience, which is critical to development and the mainstay of the defense.”

    Defensive Coordinator Josh Conklin

    On Henry Miller’s development:
    “He’s picked up the scheme pretty well. He had a hard time early on in terms of getting his feet on the ground and understanding, big picture, what we wanted in terms of the coverage checks and the cover-four checks. But he’s done a good job. We’ve moved him back and forth between field safety and boundary safety and that has served him really well in terms of picking it up a little faster.”

    On the development of younger guys on the defensive line:
    “We’ve had a couple of guys step up until [James] Folston [Jr.] had his injury. He’s going to be back here shortly. We’ve had some guys step up and really play well—guys like [Rashad] Weaver, I think he’s had a really good camp. Jim Medure, we moved him to end, and I think he’s going to be playing our third-down package. There’s some good things to see.”

    On if he thinks the boundary safety will be in position to make as many tackles as in the past:
    “I do. I think we have some bigger, more physical-type bodies there. If you look at guys we’ve moved to field safety like Bricen Garner, Jay Stocker and even [Jordan] Whitehead, those guys are more athletic and more explosive. You’re looking for some of those bigger bodies to play that boundary safety position. They’re not on the No. 2 skill threat all the time. I think the guys there right now have a knack for [making tackles]. I think a guy like Phil Campbell, and with Henry Miller, we can definitely fill that role. I think a guy like Jay Stocker can move over and potentially play that as well.”

    On Dennis Briggs:
    “He’s consistent. He just brings consistency. If you talk to our strength staff, when he weighs in, he’s going to weigh the same amount every day. His lifestyle reflects that. He’s just a consistent, confident and knows-what-he’s-doing type of kid. That allows us to get in the right checks and do some of the things we want to do from a coverage standpoint. He’s just been steady—nothing real flashy—and I think he can get the job done. He’s one of those physical, run-fitting type guys that has the ability to do that.”

    On how much he thinks he will rely on freshmen at different positions:
    “I think it’s hard with the defensive linemen, just because from physical standpoint, you have to depend on them. I think it’s difficult with linebackers because of the knowledge and the aptitude they have to have within the system. There’s a lot on those guys in terms of making checks and all that. I think where you could potentially see it is at corner. I think year-in and year-out, those are the guys that can potentially help you sooner, just because it’s a different position with what we do. There’s a little bit more man-to-man; there’s not as much knowledge, but it’s more technique-based. If you get a corner that comes in and really understands the technique that we’re looking for, or has been exposed to it at the high school level, he’s got a chance to help you.”

    Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Andre Powell

    On Alex Kessman handling tough situations:
    “He doesn’t get rattled. We figured that out about him when we recruited him because of all of the other things that he did. He was the starting quarterback and he is a golden-glove boxer. So he has done a lot of things to let us know that he can handle pressure situations.”

    On if he has to be more patient with a younger kicker this year:
    “No, not with this guy. Based on the distance, we have an expectation percentage-wise. We know that we are not going to make a lot of 52-yard field goals. If we are 50 percent on those, we are in good shape. The standard is the standard, just like the Steelers. We try to recruit good kids, and when they get their turn, they are expected to do what everybody else is expected to do.”

    On his impressions on the two freshmen running backs:
    “They both can play. They both have talent. We are looking for guys that can make plays. It all comes down to—when we get to the guy that we didn’t block or couldn’t block, what do we do? So we try to track post-contact yards, and if you make a guy miss, we count that as a post-contact yard. That’s really the thing that we are focusing on.”

    On Chawntez Moss’s development:
    “Moss is doing a good job, too. Now, Moss has really good football intelligence, and that is critical in a guy that can do a lot of things. For example, getting the information from the defense before the snap, knowing what they are going to do based on how they are lined up and collecting the tips. He’s really good at that. I’m trying to get the younger guys up to speed on that, and they are getting better. But Moss, he’s a talented guy and I like Moss, so he’ll get plenty of work this year.”

    On the difference for Qadree Ollison this year compared to last year:
    “Ollison is a big guy with skill and he has to get into his mind that, ‘I cannot run over every safety in the ACC.’ That does not happen. There are sometimes when you catch a guy off balance or catch a guy out of position, then yeah, you can do that. But when you get to that safety though, that’s going to be the guy that is going to be unblocked. That’s when you have to put a little finesse in your game and we have really been working on that. That is what he has been focusing on.”

    Placekicker Alex Kessman

    On his 52-yard field goal made during the recent scrimmage:
    “It was a good situation to put me in. As a young kicker and as a young college athlete, I feel like I need those pressure situations. I can only thank them for putting the trust in me and having faith that I can make that kick.”

    On how watching Chris Blewitt last year helped him:
    “His clutch kicks were massive. The only thing that he told me was, ‘approach every kick the same way.’ A field goal in the first quarter to a game-winner, it’s the same stroke, it’s the same field goal. You just have to calm yourself and take deep breaths. That’s the main thing that he said: it’s the same kick. It’s the same thing you have been doing your entire life.”

    On the snapper and holder playing a big role in his success:
    “We had Cal [Adomitis] and obviously Ryan [Winslow]. They’re both fantastic. We always say that I can’t do my job without those two. I’m the last piece of the puzzle. I can’t thank them enough. Ryan is a fantastic holder and every snapper that we have is just awesome. I trust them to do their job and they trust me to do mine. It’s a good team.”

    On Coach Powell’s role in his development:
    “He wants to know what we’re doing. If I miss a kick, he will run through exactly what I did. He’ll make me explain out loud what I did and how I can fix it. He learns about why I missed right, why I missed left or why I struck the ball a little differently that time. He knows all that just because we explain it. He wants to know. He’s such a good coach and pays such close attention to the details that he wants to know what we did on that specific kick.”

    Defensive Back Henry Miller

    On how far he’s come since last year:
    “Last year it was kind of fast and they redshirted a majority of us, just trying to get us into things coming out of high school. It was alright; it wasn’t too bad. Our teammates were always helping us day-in and day-out just showing us all the ropes and showing us everything. Now it’s kind of funny watching freshmen come in, and it’s like reverse of how it was last year. Now we’re showing them all the ropes and showing them how to win and everything.”

    On what he has been doing well during camp:
    “I’ve just been putting in extra work. What I’ve realized since high school is that it’s a much harder game and there’s more talent at the next level. I’ve just been trying to work on my craft and asking coaches questions and stuff like that.”

    On plays he made during scrimmages that have caught Coach Narduzzi’s attention:
    “Probably deflections and tackles. In the first scrimmage, I did pretty well. In the second scrimmage, I did pretty well; I had a couple of pass break-ups. I guess he’s been looking at me for a little, so I’ve been trying to make plays and do what I can.”

    On freshmen coming in and making an impact:
    “I think some will. Damarri Mathis and Jason Pinnock, they’ve all been getting a lot of reps at corner due to injuries and all that. I think they will give us a lot of help.”

    Defensive Back Damarri Mathis

    On how his first Pitt camp is going so far:
    “It’s been good. As a young guy, I’m just learning a lot from older guys like Avonte [Maddox] and Dane [Jackson] and all the older guys, working on my technique, getting the formations down and working on my notes and stuff. It’s been pretty good.”

    On what it’s been like going up against Jester Weah and other collegiate wide receivers:
    “It’s been challenging. As a young guy, I’m just learning a lot playing against receivers as strong as Jester. You have to be on point with your technique. You have to watch a lot of film on them. You just have to study them to get better.”

    On what has helped prepare him to have an early impact in camp:
    “I guess just being mentally tough. As a corner, you have to have a lot of mental toughness. If you mess up on a play, you have to be able to come back that next play and make a play. You could possibly save the game by making that play. You just have to be mentally tough and just not buy in to what everybody else is saying on the outside. You just have to stay focused.”

    On his thoughts about playing press coverage:
    “I think it is easier to play press because you’re eliminating a lot of routes. There’s not as many routes that they can run. If you’re playing off, they can pick you apart. I like the aggressive style of defense.”

    Defensive Lineman Allen Edwards

    On if he is impressed with the young defensive ends:
    “I am, and I have seen a lot. I came out of JUCO, so these guys are a lot more mature, level-headed and grounded. They walk the right path compared to the guys that I have been around in JUCO.”

    On how he is different than last year:
    “I am a lot smarter, focused on the details and hungrier. This year, I want to establish a name for myself, so I want to be relentless really.”

    On if they feel the opportunity to play with the departure of Ejuan Price:
    “It’s just moving on really. Obviously, Ejuan [Price] was that guy last year, so it’s just about moving on and making a name for ourselves. Obviously, we hear from those guys about last year, but we want to move onto this year and make a statement for ourselves this year, individually and as a team.”

    On the overall talent of the defensive line:
    “We have a lot of hidden talent on this team. ‘J.T.’ [Jaylen Twyman], is a strong, physical guy. He has great hands and is hopefully a guy that you will get to see this year.”

    Running Back Todd Sibley Jr.

    On what he has learned since arriving to camp:
    “I didn’t know how fast the game was. It took a while to get adjusted to it, but once you get into your playbook and you get a lot of coaching on it, you start to understand. The game starts to slow down for you, but I didn’t know how fast-paced and up-tempo and intense this game was.”

    On being coached by Andre Powell:
    “He’s been treating me and all of the other running backs really well. He’s really keying in on us, especially me and A.J. [Davis], and making sure that we both focus. We have some great leaders in Qadree [Ollison], Darrin [Hall] and Chawntez [Moss] and they have really been helping us learn the game. But Coach Powell has been really good to us so far.”

    On picking up the pass protection aspect:
    “I did a lot of it in high school because I had a really good quarterback there. So my head coach in high school made sure that I knew the basics and I knew what was going on because he knew that it would be huge for me in college. When I got here, it was a whole different level, so I had to really prepare for it. I am really focusing on it. Coach Powell makes it a huge thing for us to focus on it every day. Every day, we are learning about pass protection and we are making it a huge focus because, nowadays, to be a successful running back, it has to be a part of your game. So, it has been really huge for us and I am really learning a lot about it and trying to perfect it.”

    On being at Heinz Field for the scrimmage on Saturday:
    “It was really nice to finally get a chance to scrimmage out there. I can only imagine what it is like on game day being out there, but it was good to get a feel for it. I think I did pretty well in the scrimmage. I felt like I could have played a lot better, but it was a good warmup for me.”

    #

    Like

  33. Just read Alex Kessman our kicker was the starting quarterback in high school and is a gold glove boxing champion… Sounds like he’s got the “right stuff.” He is 6 foot 3 and 190 pounds… Is growing boy… thank of the possibilities

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  34. as to a multi year starter at QB, yeah having a guy start for 3 straight years (or 4) is the ideal. but unless pickett and macvittie both really stink, or unless pitt lands a phenom QB recruit, after this year that is what pitt will probably have: pickett or macvittie starting for 3-4 years in a row. most likely pickett in my mind.

    now if they get some 6’5″ 230 pound four or five star with a cannon arm who can run a 4.4 40 or something like that in the 2018 or 2019 class, yeah, that guy is going to be playing sooner rather than later. but in that case i dont think anyone would be complaining that pitt was still looking for a non-tino 3+ year starter.

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  35. I guess I just form my opinions for no good reasons but Macvittie did play at a very high level of high school football, so I just guessed. Oh and I did see this highlight film and many others I will putting up as soon as this old man can find them. He seems pretty light on his feet to me.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  36. Old Pitt Grad – I’m just reading today’s thread. I’m very sorry to hear about your grandson. He will be in my prayers. That was quite a video – I had to wipe away the tears before I could respond. What a great looming kid – and a constant, and beautiful smile. I know you are one proud grandfather.

    Ike – now I’m confused! I’ve been reading all spring how MacV needs more QB time, and shouldn’t play this year, cuz he only played QB his Sr year in high school. And now you pull out his sophomore QB highlights! Wazup with that?

    Like you, I, too, like MacV. But I think we’d be fine with either him or Pickett for 3-4 years. I think it’ll be hard keeping both happy with PT (If Pickett is really good, maybe MacV is the new Jester!)

    And I really like MacV’ s size and 4.6 speed!

    Like

  37. Couple thoughts:

    ike — wonder what happened to your man Deandre Schfino? Don’t see him on the roster now. I was thinking he would be a candidate for Aston’s spot… Maybe we see Bossary get a shot at that role??

    –Macvittie easily scored on a run in the spring game…. Would love to see the OC find some plays to use his speed…

    To me -Dinucci’s arm looked stronger in the spring game than it did previously — but his whole demeanor exuded a level of confidence that wasn’t apparent to me previously.

    –I think those who criticize Maddox will be singing a different tune with his play this season. I’m predicting an All-ACC season for him.

    Go Pitt.

    Like

  38. Savanna P….. T Mac was always on the Moellor high school radar. They had a very good QB but I think he may have been hurt his jr year, then played his senior year moving Macvittie to WR. He’s was too good to waste as a back up jr year.

    MM, Schifino announced he was transferring out. He had a TD pass the past two spring game and comes from a very athletic family. They also like to move around schools as we know with Drew.

    Macvittie would make a great TE/H-Back if he doesn’t make a move up at QB real soon. Which BTW, makes me think??? Why haven’t they already moved him? He still may have a future at QB for PITT.

    Dinucci is a winner with skills. Why some can’t see that?

    Maddox, same story. He’s hands down the best PITT has at CB and the only place he’s going is to the NFL after the season is over…. ike

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  39. Ike – you have to be doing acid or shrooms. Maddox to the NFL at 5’7 is as good as it gets. Simply put he is a terrible CB. Small, Burned each pass, never turns head and takes bad routes.

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  40. Upitt, I wish. My brain can’t handle that sort of knucklehead behavior any more….. but just watch about Maddox. A sober mind is indeed an open mind …. ike

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  41. F*^& cancer. Sorry, Reed. I broke one of the board rules but I feel this one can be overlooked. Thanks for sharing OPG’s grandson’s story.

    McVittie was a borderline 4 star recruit. Picket was a consensus 3 star. Based on the competition this camp, McVittie and Pickett will have a hard time overcoming DiNucci next season. McVittie/Pickett battle happens in two seasons. That’s ideal anyways. You really don’t want a redshirt Fr. and redshirt So. starting in the ACC. I’d expect the loser of that epic battle to move on for playing time at another school. Therefore, Pitt can’t let up on the QB recruiting.

    Like

    1. You’re projection is off. If neither MacVettie or Pickett wins the job next year, DiNucci will likely be the starter for the next two seasons after this one. By that time MacVettie will be a rSR and Pickett would be a rJR.

      I think, barring some sort of Tony Pike situation, MacVettie will not start at QB for Pitt.

      Like

  42. OPG…prayers for your grandson and family. Lost my brother to cancer at 52. I swear if there were some outward sign, like turning blue…we would all be running around like our hair was on fire. Do not know a single family where this insidious disease has not hit!

    Picket is by far the best QB on this team, predict he’ll be in by game 4.

    Like

  43. OPG, my prayers are with you and your family, especially your grandson. What a great smile- hopefully he will stay strong and put up the good fight, and have the same outcome as JC.

    Like

  44. OPG, saddened by your grandsons story but amazed at his strength and attitude. Lost both my parents to cancer. Prayers to your family.

    Like

  45. McVittie can play… we have options if Max doesn’t live up to his potential especially if the OL is doing their job keeping Max’s uni clean

    Like

  46. I hope Browne has the best possible year and gets drafted into the NFL. That would mean Pitt had a good year.

    However, it always kills me that many college coaches don’t give the next in line playing time. If MacV or Pickett bring another skill set, give them a package to get their feet wet so when they do play there isn’t such a steep learning curve.

    Pitt isn’t going to blow anyone out so that is the only way they get playing time.

    Like

  47. We talk a lot about MacVittie and Pickett but it’s Dinucci that Browne can’t quite shake for the starting QB position.

    Yes gc, lots of talk about the younger guys lately. Once again, we don’t know if the talk is choreograph coach speech to motivate the older guys or to throw off future opponents? or possibly the truth?

    Like

  48. McVittie is certainly athletic enough … he played WR as a HS junior. My guess is that he needs all the reps he can get since his high school experience is something like 8 starts, Now it was against some of the nation’s best teams and he did well … but you can make a case that he doesn’t have near the game experience that the others have, including Pickett.

    Like

  49. the national championship season is back on, dewayne hendrix confirmed back to practicing. peak posted a photo of him doing some kind of pass-rushing drill yesterday.

    Like

  50. Let’s see if this works. I find it crazy and interesting at the same time
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    publicsource.org/a-developer-has-big-plans-for-oaklands-bates-street-corridor-but-wil

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  51. I found this on the internet by Eva Bowen Gaddy from August 10 2017

    I copied and paste the entire article. I looked under Oakland Gateway Ventures. It’s a very big dream.

    A developer has big plans for Oakland’s Bates Street corridor, but will zoning laws and residents permit it?

    Evan Bowen-Gaddy | August 10, 2017

    The intersection of Bates Street and Boulevard of the Allies would be revamped under Oakland Gateway Ventures’ plans. (Photo by John Hamilton/PublicSource)

    It all started as a plan to build an apartment complex. In 2014, a development group spent $2.6 million to buy up a strip of homes in Oakland, knock them down and put up a high-rise. Now, the group has bigger ambitions to build a combination of a hotel and apartments, the second largest parking garage in the state, an office building, new highway exits and a wider main road. It’s estimated to cost $650 million.

    Who is building it and what could implementing a project of such scale mean for Oakland?

    The developers that go by the name of Oakland Gateway Ventures [OGV] say this project would solve countless issues in the Pittsburgh neighborhood, from parking and traffic to unwanted sewer drainage. Problem is, this is bigger than anything Oakland zoning ordinances allow, and some Oakland representatives aren’t happy with how the developers are conducting business.

    The May meeting

    A typical Oakland community meeting might focus on parking woes, maybe loud college students. One community meeting in May, however, led Oakland residents to the revelation that their neighborhood may be due for a great change. A 19-acre, multimillion-dollar change.

    State Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Hill District, had called the meeting to gather community input on a proposed large-scale development near the corner of Bates and Zulema streets. OGV’s hotel plans from nearly four years ago are small potatoes compared to the blueprints of today.

    Its plans have exploded. Besides the office building with green space on the roof, the hotel-apartment complex and the parking facility with 3,000 spaces, OGV now aims to restructure three highway exits, rearrange the sewer system, build a rainwater retention pond and add a new bike lane along Bates that would connect to the Eliza Furnace Trail.

    But some community members were already concerned that OGV — which is composed of five senior partners — was not taking adequate care of the homes they purchased in recent years. Neighborhood leaders worried about the zoning laws that these structures would appear to violate. And a few community leaders felt the developers were misrepresenting the level of buy-in from other leaders.

    Close to 40 Oakland residents sat among state senators, PennDOT representatives and city planning staff at the May meeting. Wheatley’s chief of staff, Kirk Holbrook, said the developers weren’t invited in order to focus the meeting on gathering community input, but this didn’t stop OGV from making its voice heard. To ensure residents were aware of the project’s most recent revision, OGV sent along a Powerpoint presentation for Wheatley to show at the meeting.

    The presentation included the names of dozens of government officials and businesses — Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, UPMC, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the names of many lawmakers in the room.

    “They’re just people we visited. They don’t support the project.”

    Pittsburgh District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus, among others, found this alarming. He, and all the other officials in the room, had only met with developers for “courtesy visits.” No one there had ever announced their support for the project.

    “They’re logo-ing their materials such that this elected official or that entity is in support of the project,” Kraus told PublicSource. “It’s disingenuous… I’m being kind to use the word ‘disingenuous.’”

    Bill Kane, one of the principal members of OGV, contested the idea that the presentation was misleading. The title of the slide in question read, “Stakeholder Outreach.”

    “They’re just people we visited,” Kane said in an interview to PublicSource. “They don’t support the project.”

    After hearing community pushback at the meeting, Wheatley also decided he could not support the project. His chief of staff, Kirk Holbrook, said that as a general rule, their office will side with residents when they strongly oppose a new development.

    “Our objective is just to make sure the residents are heard,” Holbrook said. “There is no way we would support something that did not have the support of the community groups. Our hope is they’ll go back to the drawing board, they’ll continue hearing suggestions and they’ll be able to come up with something that will be seen as beneficial to both parties.”

    Kraus said he met with one of OGV’s frontmen, Robert Dauer Jr., in September 2016 for a courtesy meeting to learn about the developers’ plans. At the time, he thought of the plan as a “pipe dream.”

    Kane sees it differently.

    “We want all the facts out there. If you see those, it’s hard to say no,” Kane said.

    So what are the facts?

    Blueprints

    Kane said the project kept growing larger out of necessity. In 2007, he drafted up the idea to build an apartment complex, but over the past decade, each kink in their design forced a solution that would increase the scale of the project. Kane said they now have tentative plans to put a retail space and underground parking within the building.

    One early design of the hotel high-rise was 20 stories. It was too tall and would shade people’s homes. Kane thought that would be disrespectful, so he added plans to knock down the shaded homes and build offices in their place. The office would be short on one side, leaving the homes across the street unshaded.

    “The project grew,” Kane said. “People kept coming saying: ‘You gotta do this, you gotta do that.’”

    Oakland Gateway Ventures has been in talks to purchase all of the properties on Bates Street down to I-376. They plan to widen the street and add a bike lane. (Photo by John Hamilton/PublicSource)

    Kane claims once OGV showed the city their plans for the apartments, the city requested the developers to give 30 to 40 feet of their property to alleviate a 40-year-old traffic problem by widening Bates Street, adding right and left turn lanes at the Boulevard of the Allies and adding a bike lane. In exchange, OGV would get to build into Zulema Parklet that sits behind the property. Kane says OGV would leave the parklet open to the public and pay taxes on the green space. So widening Bates became a centerpiece of the project. Now they would widen the street all the way down to I-376.

    This change meant restructuring the exits from the highway. According to OGV’s blueprints, both the Oakland and Glenwood highway exits would expand to two lanes, leading into a four-lane Bates Street and an extended Halket Street, respectively. Halket Street would then serve as another entrance into Oakland—the only one off of I-376 besides Bates Street. OGV would also build a ramp off the eastbound highway onto Second Street.

    With the project now including state and federal roads, OGV is looking to partner up with the state to fund it. Kane said OGV will pay for all $650 million up-front with the hope that the state would pay them back for the highway portion in installments over the next 30 years. OGV would ask the state to pay interest at a fair-market bond rate.

    It’s unclear at the moment just how much financial support the massive project has garnered outside of OGV. According to PennDOT’s press officer Steve Cowan, OGV informed PennDOT that they could get $50 million in federal funding through a congressman.

    Kane said he’s met with U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and the congressman showed “strong interest,” but has not committed any financial support.

    Shuster’s transportation and infrastructure communications director Justin Harclerode confirmed Shuster and staff had met with the developers and “encouraged the group to continue working with PennDOT and the state in the ongoing development of their plans.” He added, “Congress does not earmark funds for specific projects.”

    Over time, Kane and his team started to look at the project differently. Stating that Pittsburgh, and partly Oakland, has been “an economic engine that has kept Southwestern PA running,” Kane wanted this project to be the “gateway” into Oakland. That meant adding one more piece.

    “Don’t call it a parking garage,” Kane said.

    Off of Bates Streets near I-376 in Oakland, Oakland Gateway Ventures plans to build the second largest parking garage in the state. They call it a multimodal parking facility. (Photo by John Hamilton/PublicSource)

    If you call it the state’s second largest parking garage, Kane would correct you. It will be the largest “multi-modal parking facility” in Pennsylvania, he says. OGV plans to build it halfway up Bates Street on the hillside. The facility would hold cars, bikes, UPMC shuttles, Pitt shuttles and Port Authority buses. It would have compressed natural gas, a bikeshare service, showers and even a laundry service, so bicyclists and nearby hotel customers could get their clothes cleaned.

    Next to the parking facility, OGV also plans to construct a rainwater retention pond, which the hotel and parking facility would draw upon for plumbing water.

    Seems like a cool project—what’s the problem?

    What’s so farfetched about apartments, a hotel, offices and more parking in Oakland? For many, it comes down to city zoning laws.

    The plot of land on which OGV plans to build their high-rise is currently zoned as “Oakland Public Realm-D,” a designation that permits buildings to be, at maximum, 85 feet tall. This means that even OGV’s initial plans were more than double what zoning allows; the current height proposal is undecided.

    In addition, the team intends to build its parking facility on an area designated as “hillside” by the zoning code. Intensive development is not recommended in “hillside” zoning areas. They’re prone to flooding and landslides.

    Sabina Deitrick, a lawyer who specializes in urban redevelopment, said there are too many channels that OGV would have to pass through to overcome zoning ordinances. A project like this would require OGV to appeal to both the city zoning board and the planning commission — a process that allows residents to share their opinions and concerns.

    “They’ve got a lot of places to get through,” said Deitrick, who is also an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. “If all the Oakland groups show up at those meetings and are totally against the project, it won’t happen.”

    “There is no way we would support something that did not have the support of the community groups.”

    Ray Gastil, director of city planning, said public testimony is built into the planning commission’s review process. At the moment, OGV is not far enough into its planning to schedule any hearings with the planning commission, but by the time they are, Gastil said community input will be important to the review process.

    “We would expect them to have had a [public] meeting,” Gastil said.

    Kane said in the future they plan to meet more with the community to hear their feedback. It’s been a challenge, he said, trying to keep residents in the loop while also attempting to do business.

    “Community groups matter,” Kane said. The project is “so big. Everyone needs to get involved.”

    The residents

    Oakland residents have different outlooks on how this project will affect the community.

    For example, OGV plans to raze a church for the Bates Street widening, but its pastor has nothing but positive things to say about the developers.

    “They shared their ideas to make Oakland more accessible,” said Lance Rhoades, pastor of Tree of Life Open Bible Church on Bates. “Whenever I say, ‘Hi, we’re a church, we’re in Oakland,’ people go ‘I don’t want to go on Bates Street.’ If that’s what people outside of Oakland think of Oakland, then as people inside of Oakland, we have a responsibility to make that better.”

    Rhoades added that OGV offered to help him find a new property for his church, going beyond what he expected.

    Houses owned by Oakland Gateway Ventures on Bates Street are vacant. They will eventually be demolished. (Photo by John Hamilton/PublicSource)

    But tensions are high regarding 219 properties in the area that OGV says it has signed contracts with the owners to purchase. Kane said only 11 of those properties were occupied by homeowners. The rest were rental properties.

    But, for the few homeowners affected, the issue is not that OGV asked them to leave, it’s how they asked them to leave.

    Paul Wieckowski, a resident of Oakland since childhood who owns a home off of Bates, said OGV “alluded” to the fact that there could be “eminent domain involved.” That’s the power of the government to remove residents from their homes for the development of things like highways and public buildings.

    “I’m not an unsophisticated guy,” said Wieckowski, adding that he was approached by OGV in early 2016 but has not signed any papers to move forward with selling his home. “I have a feeling that because I live in that area they think I’m less than capable.”

    Kane denies OGV ever threatened eminent domain on anyone. In fact, according to real estate records, he overpaid for many Oakland properties.

    By 2014, the group spent roughly $2.6 million to acquire a strip of homes along Bates Street between the Boulevard of the Allies and Zulema Street, paying much more than each house was valued. For instance, 3415 Bates St. was assessed at $55,700, while OGV paid $500,000 for the home.

    Even if someone did threaten eminent domain in Pittsburgh, Deitrick said it would be an empty threat. “The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh is the only agency that can eminent domain in this city,” she said. The URA has confirmed it is not affiliated with OGV.

    Some Oakland residents are also criticizing OGV for not properly maintaining the homes it has purchased along Bates. Since 2015, Rebekkah Ranallo, the director of external relations for the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation [OPDC], said her office has received an influx of calls complaining about the condition of OGV’s homes on Bates. The first buildings seen when motorists exit I-376 into Oakland, they say these homes have been occupied by vermin and littered with trash.

    Almost every house along this strip has failed inspection since 2016, sending the developers to housing court twice in the past. Their last date in housing court was July 20 for the “accumulation of rubbish and garbage.” The day before their hearing, however, OGV sent someone to clean up. Liz Gray of the OPDC still showed up to court to make her organization’s displeasure known to the judge. Because of this, District Judge Eugene Ricciardi called OGV from the courtroom.

    “I’m a little upset it took so long,” Ricciardi told Dauer Jr.

    The violations had been outstanding since March. In the end, Ricciardi fined OGV $700. He also ordered them to present a maintenance plan to OPDC.

    Dauer Jr. said their contractor had become too busy to maintain the houses in the past few months and that it wouldn’t happen again.

    “I don’t like that excuse,” Ricciardi said. “Live up to your responsibility for the future.”

    Michael Dawida of the nonprofit Scenic Pittsburgh said he supported OGV’s project and was excited to see those abandoned homes disappear. Next to those homes are multiple billboards facing the Boulevard of the Allies.

    “We’re gonna knock down some ugly billboards,” Dawida said. “You’re harming the community as a whole by not redeveloping [Oakland].”

    The project has grown so large, Kane estimates that, upon city approval, it would take three to four years to accomplish. It’s worth it to him, though.

    “People don’t realize,” Kane said. “This isn’t for me. Or my partners. It’s for Southwestern PA.”

    Evan Bowen-Gaddy is a PublicSource intern. He can be reached at evan@publicsource.org.

    Oakland Gateway Ventures’ concept map:

    (Courtesy Oakland Gateway Ventures)

    Like

  52. why should OGV give a damn about those properties when the city of pittsburgh, like too many city governments, has made it clear that any kind of major development will be a nightmare and probably not worth even attempting because the politicians and bureaucrats have their heads so far up their butts. if i were them i wouldn’t maintain the properties at all, not pay any taxes on them either, and tell the city take em off my hands then you can toss money into a pit because that’s what it seems like you enjoy doing far more than anything else. hope springs eternal in the collective breast of companies like OGV i guess, they actually think they’re going to get anything done with the idiots in the city government.

    Like

  53. There of course no question that Oakland and immediate area has far superseded its infratructure as far as access and land goes. And an overhaul is way overdue.

    I had an office at the Rangos Research Building that overlooked 5th Ave in the early 2000s, and was still amazed by the massive amount traffic that passed daily .. and I would argue with anyone that the all day traffic exceeded Liberty Ave downtown. It was like rush hour all day.

    I actually preferred taking a shuttle down to a 2nd Ave lot because of Bates St back-up at rush hour.

    Like

  54. HC Mark Mangino and 2007 Kansas FB team which won the Orange Bowl and finished 3rd in AP Poll will be inducted in the school’s hall of fame this fall. Of course, a couple years later, Mangino was fired because of players’ complaints, a new AD, and a .500 record (allegedly in that order).

    KU hasn’t been to a bowl game since 08, and has a cumulative record of 13 and 70 since Mangino’s exit. Charlie Weis, who is still being paid by KU, was 5 and 22.

    Of course, the fact that I knew Mark’s sister-in-law and her family very well, and my cousin;s husband is one of his best friends has nothing to do that I am pointing all of this out.

    Like

  55. UPitt I’m with you, Buddy. Maddox is just plain too short for a cornerback in this league. Many times during his career he was in decent position to make a play but was just too short and the ball sailed 3 or 4 inches over his outstretched hands into the receiver’s arms. He dose have good speed but lacks size.

    This is a rebuilding year all around the roster; so if we start out 1-3 look for Browne to get benched and one of the younger QBs take their licks in hopes of building for the future.

    OPG you and your family are in my prayers daily.

    Like

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