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Zane Zandier talks about his Pittsburgh connection

Both the linebacker and Bronco Mendenhall are Pittsburgh Steelers fans.

NCAA Football: Richmond at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

As a member of Virginia Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s first recruiting class, linebacker Zane Zandier has become one of the more critical components to the UVA defense that is averaging 18.8 points allowed per game and has the team poised for its first Coastal Division title. Zandier was the guest on Mendenhall’s radio show Tuesday night and his segments focused on his Pittsburgh roots.

Zandier was introduced to Styx’s “Renegade”, an important part of Pittsburgh Steelers lore.

Zandier, who coincidentally went to Thomas Jefferson High School in the southeastern suburbs of the city, said that he grew up watching both the Pittsburgh Panthers and Penn State Nittany Lions. But unlike many families in that part of the state, his family didn’t pick between the two so he never developed much of a passion for either team.

This likely helped Mendenhall and co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga in recruiting Zandier, who has 47 tackles in eight games so far this season at middle linebacker. While neither Pitt nor Penn State officially offered him, Penn State did start to increase their level of interest — with less than two weeks to go until National Signing Day, by which point he had already committed over offers from Boston College, Michigan State, Syracuse, and West Virginia.

Asked about his favorite Steelers moment, Zandier didn’t hesitate to go with the 100-yard interception return for a touchdown from James Harrison in Super Bowl XLIII. Mendenhall, who is also a Steelers fan, chose the Immaculate Reception.

Zandier and the rest of the Wahoos will look to take a stranglehold on the division on Friday night against Pitt at 7:30.