Belle Vernon offensive lineman Blake Zubovic committed to Pitt last June. He was the ninth commitment of the 2018 class. This was a big commitment for Pitt, as it finds itself particularly shorthanded on the offensive line going into the 2018 season.
Listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals, Zubovic was ranked as the 18th-best recruit in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound offensive tackle chose Pitt in June over in-state rival Penn State, as well as many other Power Five conference offers including West Virginia, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Minnesota.
“He fires off the ball well and he is quick with his hands and feet. He shows the ability to scrape the defensive lineman and then target the linebacker quickly on the second level,” 247sports’ Brian Dohn writes. “Zubovic is powerful and often overwhelms when he shoots his hands to the defensive player, but sometimes he leans forward and gets off balance.”
Zubovic was drawn to Pitt because it felt like home. He is from Belle Vernon, about 50 minutes south of Pittsburgh.
“I fell in love with the whole campus,” Zubovic said. “I’ve been a Pitt fan my whole life, so it kind of just felt like the right place.”
Zubovic also felt comfortable with the Panthers’ coaching staff. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi signed a new seven-year contract in December, locking him up until 2024, which Zubovic is excited for.
“That was definitely good to see,” Zubovic said. “I’m glad to have him stick around because I trust him to take us to great places.”
Belle Vernon High School, where Zubovic graduates from this spring, is the alma mater of a recent Pitt star offensive guard, Dorian Johnson. Johnson entered Pitt as a five-star recruit by Rivals, ranked second in Pennsylvania in 2013.
In his time at Pitt, Johnson earned second-team All-ACC, first-team ACC and first team All-American honors before being selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2017 NFL draft. He now plays for the Carolina Panthers and has served as somewhat of a mentor to Zubovic.
“We talked a lot through my recruiting process,” Zubovic said. “I asked him some questions and worked out with him a couple times.”
Zubovic said that Johnson actually reached out to him, offering to help the Pitt commit with the procedure.
“He told me if I had any questions to come and ask him about it,” Zubovic said. “He definitely helped me out and made [the recruiting process] a little bit easier for me.”
While at Pitt, Zubovic plans to study business. He noted the role Pitt’s strong business school played in his commitment.
“It’s a top-25 business school,” Zubovic said. “I’ve gotten to meet the assistant dean of the business school a couple of times, which is also very cool. I just think it’s a great education. If the football thing doesn’t work out, it’s great to have something like that to fall back on.”
Zubovic will have a chance at immediate playing time at Pitt. Not only did the Panthers’ three seniors on the offensive line declare for the NFL draft, but junior Brian O’Neil did as well.
O’Neill’s departure means the unit only has two returning starters in 2018: redshirt freshman center Jimmy Morrissey and junior guard Alex Bookser.
Zubovic joins Devon Davis, Chase Brown and Jake Kradel as the only four offensive linemen in Pitt’s 2018 recruiting class who will compete for a spot on the line in the fall.