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Peyton eliminates one school but adds two

The short list of programs being considered by Pasco's Johnny Peyton is like the legendary heads of the serpent Hydra in Greek mythology: cut off one and two more appear.

The coveted Pirates senior took Louisville out of consideration last weekend. But just as quickly, West Virginia and Penn State joined the hunt for the 6-foot-5 receiver.

Peyton remains tenuously committed to Pittsburgh. He hopes to get an offer from Miami, which he visited last weekend, and still is considering South Florida, which has offered him a scholarship.

West Virginia sent receivers coach Steve Bird to Pasco's basketball game at Nature Coast Tech in Hernando County on Tuesday, and he met with Peyton and his mother after the game.

"They just jumped in this week," said Peyton, who added he isn't sure if he would accept its offer for an official campus visit this weekend.

A major draw for Pittsburgh had been the opportunity to play alongside star receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has submitted his name for early entry into this spring's NFL draft. West Virginia also has a tall, talented receiver in sophomore Chris Henry, a 6-4 playmaker who was named Big East freshman of the year in 2003. Henry caught 10 touchdowns and went over 1,000 yards receiving, giving the Mountaineers a recruiting lure that worked well for Pittsburgh.

Penn State, too, called Pasco High and Peyton's home Wednesday, trying to set up meetings and an official visit for Jan. 31, the final weekend before signing day. While facing the same cold-weather troubles that have Pitt in limbo, Penn State can offer Peyton playing time sooner.

Two of Penn State's top three receivers graduate this spring, and the other is rising sophomore Maurice Humphrey, who shined as a freshman after shifting from cornerback a month into the 2003 season. He was suspended for the final game of the season after an arrest on multiple assault charges, however, accused of punching an ex-girlfriend in the face.

The severity of the charges likely means the end of his playing days there, and Pasco coach Dale Caparaso said the Penn State coaches were touting a new opening in their lineup due to disciplinary reasons.

Peyton said he was expecting a Nittany Lions assistant to be in Dade City on Wednesday to watch him play in a basketball game.