As I've stated before, and as any Pitt fans already knows, the Panthers have had trouble recruiting quality linebackers in the past few years. Luckily for the program, western PA looks like it has some very good linebacker prospects next year who could change that should the staff convince them to play for the local school. Of course these kids are only sophomores right now so how good they will become remains to be seen, but all have great potential and at least now project as high major prospects.
Brenon Thrift, Gateway HS (Monroeville) LB- Recently transferred from Steel Valley and the exposure of playing at Gateway should bring him many offers. In fact, despite being just a sophomore he already has offers from Pittsburgh and West Virginia. A beast already at 6'3" and 230 pounds. He could turn out to be a national recruit and the guy in the Pittsburgh area that everybody wants. Unfortunately, however, he says he has no interest in Pitt as of now, and loves West Virginia.
Nate Stone, Greensburg Central Catholic (Greensburg) LB- Want the next Dan Mason? That's exactly who this kid reminds me of. Right now he's in the 5'11" or 6'0" range, but has time to grow an inch or two. He's also a rock solid 220 pounds. All muscle, an explosive hitter, and great range, he has the chance to be really good.
Sage Curry, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls) LB- Not as big as some of the others at 6'2" and 200 pounds, but he hits like a ton of bricks, has excellent speed, and flies all over the field. If he fills out, he could be a very good linebacker. If he doesn't he should be a very good safety. Either way the kid can play.
Justice Rawlins, Monessen Area HS (Monessen) LB- A national freshman all-american but blew out his knee before his sophomore season started. That didn't stop Pitt from already offering him. Unfortunately, just like his brother, Chavas, he will likely want to move away from the area. Already big and fast at 6'2" and 220 pounds, and it should be interesting to see how good he can be as a junior now that he's healthy. Also an excellent baseball prospect so that may factor into his recruiting.
Shai McKenzie, Washington Area HS (Washington) LB- The last, but certainly not the least of the four linebackers is this nasty 6'1" 200 pounder. He is also an excellent running back, but his aggressiveness, toughness, and great speed and range makes him a definite major college prospect.
Jaleel Fields, Aliquippa Area HS (Aliquippa) DT- The Quips are flat out loaded with talented underclassmen but the 6'2" 260 pound Fields projects to be among the best. He put on 25 pounds recently but has regained his quickness.
Dravon Henry, Aliquippa Area HS (Aliquippa) RB/CB- College coaches have been licking their chops with this since he was a freshman. Right now he's a slim 5'11" and 180 pounds, but he has speed to burn and in football these days, skill players are more about speed and quickness than size. Could be a national recruit.
Brock Boxen, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls) DT- How could a kid named Brock Boxen not play for Pitt? Like Aliquippa, Beaver Falls is loaded with young talent, including this intriguing 6'3" 250 pounder. He has good explosion and he'll only get bigger.
Ricky Rogers, Keystone Oaks HS (Pittsburgh) WR- Pitt did well with former Keystone Oaks products Chris Jacobson and Myles Caragein, but it may be even harder to land this big time prospect. Rutgers has already offered and many more will follow. Could be a national recruit. By no means am I saying he is in the same category as Larry Fitzgerald, in my opinion the best receiver in NCAA history, but he does remind me of him. He is already built like an NFL receiver at 6'2" and 190 pounds, he has great hands, and runs hard. He's more fast than quick, but like Fitzgerald he looks like a linebacker playing receiver. The most interesting thing about Rogers, and something that may effect his recruiting, is that he is a world class dancer. Yes, a dancer. In fact, he goes to school at Lincoln Park Performing Arts School in Midland. He is allowed to play football at Keystone Oaks since Lincoln Park does not have a football team.
Harry Randall, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh) DB- One of the young kids who really impressed on the recruiting circuit this season. Now at 6'0" and 180 pounds he looks like he can be a top cornerback recruit thanks to size, athleticism, and great hands.
Chandler Kincade, Blackhawk HS (Beaver Falls) QB- Is Beaver County loaded or what?Obviously this is somebody that Pitt fans know since he's already committed to the Panthers. I still don't understand why Todd Graham offered him because he couldn't be more wrong for Graham's offense, but thankfully for Panther fans he will fit in nicely in Paul Chryst's offense. He's already 6'4" and 210 pounds so size is not a problem. The rest of his game? Time will tell. He didn't play much as a sophomore because of injuries so his junior year will tell a lot. But there is a lot there for Chryst to work with.
Brandon Mitchell, Fox Chapel HS (Fox Chapel) QB/WR- Size and athleticism is what Mitchell is all about. At a lean 6'5" and 180 pounds, he looks like he's eight feet tall on the field. Transferred from Penn Hills. Track and field star and one of the best hurdlers in the area.