September 8, 2007

Grambling-Pitt connections

There is no history between Pitt and Grambling. This marks the first meeting between the two schools. Pitt plays in the Big East with a high contingency of players from Pennsylvania. Grambling's roster has a high contingency of players from Louisiana, with a few from Mississippi, Texas and Florida.

While attracting athletes from two different parts of the country, the two teams each have offensive linemen who were former teammates at Valley Forge Military Academy. Jeff Otah, the Panthers' left tackle, and Randle Bennett, Grambling's right tackle, played their respective positions for two seasons at Valley Forge. Though you won't seeing them line up against each other on Saturday, they do have a friendly rivalry heading into this game.

Prior to Valley Forge, located in Wayne, Pa., Bennett played his high school football in Cromwell, Conn. Otah is a native of New Castle, Delaware, where he played just one season of high school football at William Penn High. Both programs rarely recruit in the states of Connecticut and Delaware, which makes it even more of a rare thing to see these two players playing on opposite sidelines on Saturday.

"He might not want to see me after the game, depending on what happens," Otah joked. "He was one of my best friends back at Valley Forge. I've been talking to him. It'll be nice to see him."

Both players signed letters of intent with their respective schools in February of 2006. Otah has stayed at left tackle for his entire career at Pitt. Bennett came to Grambling as a right tackle in 2006. He was moved to defense in the second half of the season, before moving back to the offensive line this past spring. Through the first half of the season in 2006, he had six tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Grambling head coach Rod Broadway worked previously with Pitt AD Jeff Long at Duke, and Pitt receivers coach Aubrey Hill, when both were on the same staff at Florida.

"I was actually a G.A. getting him coffee and running to the airport for him, when I was at Florida, and he was the defensive line coach" Hill said. "He was a heck of a guy then, and he did an outstanding job at North Carolina Central, and he's getting it started at Grambling."

Tony Greco can be contacted at

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