Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Early look at top PA prospects for 2014, 2015, and 2016


Joe Cosentino, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  Transferred from Kiski Area after his sophomore season and didn't put up huge numbers as a junior, but he is impressive in camp and combine settings thanks to his 6'4" 225 pound size, good athleticism, and strong arm.  If he has a big senior season, he will get major offers, but on his measureables alone, he could get offers before the season starts.

Andrew Ford, Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill)-  The crafty lefty needs to add some weight to his 6'3" 190 pound frame, but he is athletic, can take off and run, has a good, accurate arm, and a great temperament to be a leader at the position.  His star receiver, elite tight Adam Breneman, who is headed to Penn State, was out for the entire season, but that did not stop Ford from putting up huge numbers again.

Right now Pitt, Penn State, UConn, Virginia, Northwestern, and Maryland are showing the most interest, and while he doesn't have any offers yet, it should just be a matter of time.  He is being recruited by Bobby Engram for the Panthers.

Ryan Gumbita, Mt. Pleasant Area HS (Mt. Pleasant)- It's not too often that there is a legit D-1 player out of Mt. Pleasant, but Gumbita is 6'4" 210 with a good arm.  He also is a good basketball player and does the long jump and triple jump in track. He has unofficially visited Pitt and Maryland thus far.

Chandler Kincade, Blackhawk HS (Beaver Falls)-  Committed to Pitt when Todd Graham was the head coach, and has reaffirmed that commitment under Paul Chryst.  In fact, he is much more suited for Chryst's offense.  Despite some rumors, I would be shocked if he didn't end up signing with the Panthers.

Great size already at 6'5" and 220 pounds, and he has the frame to get even stronger.  When he does age his arm will get stronger, too, though he has a good arm already.  Not a dual threat QB, but he is mobile in the pocket.  Good kid and a born leader.

His team hasn't been great in his career, so it's been hard for him to put up huge numbers.  The quarterbacks who develop into elite prospects usually do it in the offseason before his junior and senior season, so it will be interesting to see how he develops over the spring and summer.

(2015) Brett Brumbaugh, South Fayette HS (McDonald)- The next big time WPIAL quarterback?  That's definitely possible. He has to fill out but he's just 16 years old this season so that should not be a problem. At 6'3" and 180 pounds he lit up the WPIAL as a sophomore and his strong arm should get even stronger as he matures.  His top target, Zach Challingsworth, is on his way to Pitt this year.

(2015) Andrew Koester, West Allegheny HS (Imperial)- He hasn't put up big numbers yet but he's already 6'4" and 185 pounds and he led the Indians to the WPIAL AAA championship as a sophomore.  He's very athletic and started for the basketball team as a freshman.  Legendary head coach Bob Palko is bringing him along slowly but look for him to become a star in the next two years.

(2016)  Levi Metheny, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park)- A Tyler Palko clone, the crafty lefty (is there any other kind?), even plays for his father, Jeff, who is the head coach.  Only 6'0" and 180 pounds right now but he's only in the 9th grade so he has plenty of time to grow.  Very quick runner who can also throw.  He has an extremely bright future.

(2016) Eric Taylor, Imani Christian Academy (Pittsburgh)-  He didn't start at quarterback this year but those who saw him this summer was very impressed with the 6'3" 195 pound freshman.  Should start as a sophomore and has the potential to be a major recruit down the road.

Where Pitt stands:  Kincade has already given the Panthers a verbal commitment and unless Chad Voytik or Travon Chapman blow up this season, I don't see him changing his mind.  It's best to add a quarterback a year and if Brumbaugh and Metheny follow Kincade, then the program won't have quarterback problems for awhile.


Mike Class, Pennridge HS (Perkasie)- At 5'11" and 175 pounds, he needs to gain some size, but he has run a 10.90 100m and ran for over 2,300 yards in Quad A this season. Also has good hands and returns kicks. Kids with this kind of speed and production are guaranteed to have major offers, even if he ends up at a different position.

Robert Martin, Harrisburg HS (Harrisburg)- The school has had much talent over the years, but academics were usually an issue.  If Martin doesn't have that problem, he should get major offers thanks to his 6'0"190 pounds, and top speed and elusiveness.  It's hard to tell how how well he runs through tackles because he usually just blows through the line and is gone before anybody can touch him.  Also an excellent linebacker who could project as a safety at the college level.

Shai McKenzie, Washington HS (Washington)-  A candidate for the top prospect in the state next season.  What isn't there to like about this national recruit?  He's already a rock solid 5'11" and 210 pounds and he has run a 10.83 100m, meaning he has legit 4.4 speed at 210 pounds.  If it's production you want, Shai (pronounced "Shy"), ran for 2,689 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Pitt has offered, as has Rutgers, Purdue, UConn, Duke, Tennessee, and some smaller schools, but the likes of Michigan are starting to sniff around.  He is a huge target for the Panthers, who are recruiting him hard, but he appears to want to leave the area, preferably to the south.

James Oliver, Tyrone HS (Tyrone)-  Not an area where recruiters usually find D-1 talent, but Oliver has good speed with a personal best 11.49 100m, and ran for almost 1,900 yards and 27 touchdowns. Has 5'10" 170 pound size so if he doesn't get bigger he may find himself on defense.

Eli Redmond, Parkland HS (Allentown)-  Yet another small player at 5'6" and 170 pounds, but he is all muscle and has run an 11.14 100m.  Electrifying player if you can find someplace for him in your system.

Jimmy Wheeler, West Mifflin HS (West Mifflin)-  If Wheeler was 6'0" and 200 pounds instead of the 5'8" and 170 pounds that he really is, he would already have major offers.  But with small, fast kids getting offers more commonly now, there's a chance that somebody will find him too good to pass up.  He is helped by the fact that he has run an 11.04 100m.  "Wheels", as he's known to teammates and coaches, ran for over 2,000 yards this season.

(2015) Josh Adams, Central Bucks South HS (Warrington)-  Blew up this year as a sophomore thanks to his game breaking speed and great quickness.  Already a lanky 6'1" and 180 pounds.  Runs hard even though he's not solidly built yet.  Could end up as a national recruit.

(2015) Nas Bonner, Imhotep Charter School (Philadelphia)- The next big thing at Imhotep and in that loaded program that's saying a lot.  Only 5'10" and 180 pounds right now but he's only a sophomore so he'll get bigger.  His speed, quick feet, and vision are all at a very high level already.  A true game breaker.

2015) Andre Robinson, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)- When you are the top runner at a powerhouse like Bishop McDevitt when you're a freshman than you are a big time player.  Didn't have the huge sophomore season that was expected of him but that's only because he's in a balanced attack.  Solidly built already at 5'10" and 200 pounds, but also has excellent vision and speed.  Will run around a defender or through him. Also has excellent hands and is a great blocker.

(2015) Josh Schultheis, Mars HS (Mars)-  One of the most intriguing players in the state in any class. Already 6'1" and 225 pounds and he's just a sophomore.  He also led a powerful Mars team by running for 1,687 yards.  He's a workout warrior who trains religiously to improve himself. There's even video out there of him out there jumping from a seated position onto a 51" high box.  Could end up as a Toby Gerhart-type or could end up as a linebacker.

(2016) Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)- When you start as a freshman for one of the  top talent producers in the country, that's impressive.  He's already 5'11" and 165 pounds as a freshman so size in the future won't be a problem.  Also very fast with the ability to go the distance every time he touches the ball.  Will be a big name in recruiting circles in the future.

Where Pitt stands:  McKenzie is obviously the major get here and could be a worthy successor to Rushel Shell, but as it stands now I don't think McKenzie is going to stay local.  Things could always change, though, and he still can't sign for over a year now.  If the Panthers don't land him then they may have to go out of state for the '14 class.  Robinson and Schultheis in '15, and Sanders in '16, will be huge targets.  Adams and Bonner are just as good, but it will be harder to get them since they are on the other side of the state.


Troy Apke, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon)-  The No.1 wide receiver prospect in the WPIAL next season.  He needs to add weight to his 170 pound frame, but he's a long 6'2", catches everything in sight, runs great routes, and runs in the 4.4s.  He also broke all kinds of school records this season with over 1,000 yards receiving.  His former coach, Chris Haering, is Pitt's current linebackers coach, his father, Steve, was a star linebacker at Pitt, and his mother was a member of the track team at Pitt.  Put it all together and you would hope that the Panthers could land another excellent receiver prospect.

Jaquan Davidson, Elizabeth Forward HS (Elizabeth)- Started his high school career at West Mifflin, then spent a year at McKeesport, before finally settling in at EF.  Plays quarterback now, and has a strong arm, but he's more of an athlete right now, and at 6'4" and 160 pounds he could turn out to be a real sleeper.  Also an excellent basketball player. 

Eddie Edwards, Hampton HS (Allison Park)-  Athletic and smooth with good speed and athleticism at 5'11" and 165 pounds.  Also a good baseball player.  

Delane Hart, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)- Good 6'3" and 180 pounds and great hands, but lack of top end speed may prevent him from major offers.  Broke school record with 778 yards receiving as a junior.

Paryss Marshall, Catasauqua HS (Northampton)-  The son of former UConn basketball star Donyell Marshall, he has good 6'2" 180 pound size and athleticism.  Named all-state this season after a big season on offense and 9 interceptions on defense.  

Sammy Marshall, East Pennsboro HS (Enola)-  The major target of Syracuse quarterback recruit Austin Wilson, Marshall has the 6'4" 185 pound size, and he also has the game breaking speed.  Very good with the ball in his hands and not just a big guy who runs fast in a straight line.  It appears that Pitt is interested and he has expressed legitimate interest in Pitt.  

Ricky Rogers, Gateway HS (Monroeville)- The Keystone Oaks transfer caught just 9 passes in his junior season at Gateway, but he's athletic and solidly built at 6'2" and 190 pounds.  West Virginia and Rutgers offered early, and he already committed to the Mountaineers.

Troy Simon, Imani Christian Academy (Pittsburgh)-  A big sleeper because he plays in a new, small private school. Transferred from Brashear in Pittsburgh's City League.  Has excellent 6'3"180 pound size and good athleticism and speed.  Also returns kicks and punts, and kicks off.  Can also project at safety.

Shafer Swann, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  He's got good 6'2" 180 pound size and with Lynn Swann being his father he has the genes.  If Cosentino lives up to his potential next season then Swann could benefit.

K.J. Williams, Liberty HS (Bethlehem)-  A legitimate contender for the best prospect in the state.  He has everything it takes to be an elite college player.  Solidly built at 6'2" and 190 pounds, with excellent hands, speed, and athleticism.  Terrific player that already holds offers from Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, and UConn, but there will be many more.  Same school as current star Pitt receiver Devin Street, as well as Anthony Gonzalez.  Pitt is on him very hard.

(2016) Kobay White, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)-  This is a school that's always loaded with college level talent so the fact that he's the second leading receiver as a freshman is extremely impressive.  The fact that he's fast, athletic, and already 6'0" and 185 pounds is just as impressive. 

Where Pitt stands:  If Robert Foster stays out of the picture, and Tyler Boyd chooses elsewhere, then the program could have trouble at the position.  If the Panthers can land Boyd then the loss of Foster would not be as devastating because players like Apke, Williams, and Marshall are big time players.  There's really no excuse to lose out on Apke, but Williams and Marshall may be tougher since they're not local, and Williams especially will be a national recruit.  Simon is another player that needs to be watched closely, as is Brandon Mitchell, who I talk about in the "athlete" section.


Luke Carrezola, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- Solidly built and athletic at 6'3" and 230 pounds.  Also plays defensive end.  His brother Paul is a tight end at Rutgers.  Pitt was second for Paul and are now recruiting Luke.  Rutgers and Penn State have also shown a lot of interest at this time.

Jamal Custis, Neumann-Goretti HS (Philadelphia)-  He plays at wide receiver now and he may just stay there, but right now he doesn't look fast enough for the position.  At tight end, however, he can add on to his great 6'6" 215 pound frame and show off his athleticism that helps him to also be a legitimate basketball prospect. 

Trey Klock, Lower Dauphin HS (Hummelstown )-  Big, tough strong 6'4" 240 pound kid who plays with a lot of aggressiveness.  Decent speed and athleticism, but his ability to play angry is what makes him stand out. Could also project as a strong side defensive end or could even gain weight and play inside.

Where Pitt stands:  The program isn't in dire need for tight ends since the staff is loading up on them in their first two classes, but a player like Klock could project as a tight end or elsewhere, and he would be a nice addition.


Dontae Angus, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)- Really large at 6'6" and 310 pounds, but he moves extremely well.  On the defensive line, he blows up the line and could project on that side of the ball, too.

Nick Apostolu, Springfield HS (Springfield)- Big 6'5 1/2" 290 pound kid who is athletic enough that he was a competitive swimmer at that size.  Excellent student who has heard from Pitt, among others.

Alex Bookser, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon)-  Another giant at 6'6" and 295 pounds, and he also has an early Pitt offer.  Pitt's current linebacker coach, Chris Haering, was Bookser's coach at Mt. Lebanon before joining the Panthers this season.  Should be among the best linemen in the east this year.

Tyler Cavenas, Mahanoy HS (Mahanoy City)- Slightly undersized now at 6'4" and 255 pounds, and he could also project on the defensive line.  Good athlete who plays basketball and is excellent at the shot put in track.

Eric Gallo, Council Rock South HS (Holland)- A little smaller than Paul Chryst usually likes but at a rock solid 6'3" and 280 pounds, he is a tough and tenacious guard with good feet.  He's visited Pitt so the Panthers obviously have interest so it may be for center or for defensive tackle, where he also excels. Excellent student.  His brother, P.J., plays for Maryland.

Mike Grimm, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park)-  Enormous 6'6" 320 pound tackle that looks even bigger than that.  Feet are decent, but it's his brute strength and size that is his calling card.  His mother and father are both fitness professionals.  Already has a Pitt offer and he's a major target for the Panthers since he's exactly the kind of lineman that the staff is looking for.

Travis Krall, Milton HS (Milton)- Solidly built and tough 6'4" 285 pounds with good feet.  Also does shot put and discus in track, and plays basketball.

James McHale, Dunmore HS (Dunmore)-  When a giant lineman dominates a small classification, there is always a worry that it may be just because the lineman has such a size advantage. But the 6'6" 295 pound McHale appears to be the real deal for the Class A state runner ups.  He's a big Penn State fan and he'll be at Pitt's elite junior day on February 2nd.

Taleem Muhammad, Imhotep Charter HS (Philadelphia)-  This high school is loaded with young talent, and at 6'5" 300 pounds Muhammad has very good athleticism to go with that size.

Deion Oliver, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster)-  The best of an excellent line, in an an excellent program, he is 6'5" 275 and can move.  Looks like an ideal pulling guard because of how well he moves.

Mike Reichwein, Downingtown East (Exton)- Plays tight end now at 6'5" and 245 pounds, but he has a big frame and it's expected that he could eventually end up at tackle.

Luke Ritter, Delaware Valley HS (Milford)- Not the best athlete and has to add a lot of weight, but at 6'7" and 275 pounds, he has a big frame to add size.  His coach is a former Penn State player and he's a big Penn State fan.

Aaron Ruff, Imhotep Charter HS (Philadelphia)- Yet another Imhotep prospect, who at 6'5" and 280 pounds has good feet and athleticism.  

Hunter Steel, Chartiers Valley HS (Bridgeville)- Needs to get bigger than his current 6'4" and 275 pounds, but he moves extremely well. Pitt is interested and if he ever gets to 6'5" and 300 pounds, he would make a nice, mobile guard.

(2015) Michael Burke, Germantown HS (Philadelphia)-  
He's just a sophomore and he's 6'5" and 350 pounds.  Obviously size may be a problem, but in this case it may be because he could get too big.  But Pitt is looking for giant linemen and this kid fits the bill. He can also move well at that size.

(2015) Alex Paulina, Canon McMillan HS (Canonsburg)-  The next great PA lineman?  It's possible.  How good is Paulina? Well, he was all-conference in the highly competitive WPIAL Quad A despite playing on a winless team. That's impressive, but what's even more impressive is that he did it as a 6'3" 250 pound freshman, and he missed almost four full games at the end of the season after tearing his MCL. He's now 6'4" and 295 pounds, and his quickness is so impressive that he plays lacrosse for the school. Could also project as a defensive tackle. Schools like Ohio State and Virginia Tech were already inquiring about him after his freshman season.

(2015) Tony Pilato, Hempfield Area HS (Greensburg)-  Already 6'7" and 295 pounds as a sophomore, and he moves well enough to also be a very good basketball player.  Should be a high major target, especially for Pitt who craves that kind of size.

Where Pitt stands:  Grimm and Bookser are huge targets for the Panthers in more reasons than one.  Both are the giant, talented linemen than Chryst and his staff craves.  Steel could be somebody who can be very good down the road if he can get bigger.  The rest are talented, but outside the area, so it's hard to say which one or two will want to be Panthers at this stage.  The two local '15 prospects, Paulina and Pilato will be must gets.  Bottom line, if Pitt can get Grimm, Bookser, Paulina, and Pilato all locally then the future of the line is extremely bright, and the staff would have done it on a single tank of gas.


Tyrone Barge, Imhotep Institue Charter School (Philadelphia)- Undersized at 6'1" and 260 pounds, but he is quick as a cat.  His explosion at the snap is impressive and his aggressive style of play makes him stand out even on a loaded team. Also is excellent at guard and is the only two way player on the team. 

Noah Beh, Scranton Prep (Scranton)- Has a chance to be one of the highest rated players in the state thanks to his excellent 6'6" 245 pound size and very good athleticism.  Kids with his size and athleticism are obviously highly coveted at defensive end, but he may also get looks at offensive tackle.

Brock Boxen, Beaver Falls Area HS (Beaver Falls)-  At 6'3" and 260 pounds he has enough speed and athleticism to play at end, but he also has the ability to add weight and play on the inside.  Tenacious and quick.  Already holds a Pitt offer and really likes the Panthers.

Jaleel Fields, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Excellent two player for one of the most talented teams in the country. Vicious blocker on offense but at 6'2" and 270 pounds he is a little undersized for the offensive line. But that's okay because he could be a beast on the defensive line, either inside or outside. No reason I can think of why he doesn't already have major offers, and he's also an excellent student. If Pitt offers, which you have to assume they will, the Panthers have to be considered the favorite.

Joey Hobbs, Mechanicsburg HS (Mechanicsburg)- Already excellent defensive end size at 6'4" and 245 pounds.  Great wingspan.  Also a very good offensive lineman and he has the frame to eventually grow into that position too.

Curtis Matsko, Philipsburg-Osceola HS (Philipsburg)- Undersized right now at 6'2" and 225 pounds, but he's a good football player who has already visited Penn State twice.

Adam Mihoci, Franklin Regional (Murrysville)- Believe it or not at 6'1" and 284 pounds, not only was this young man all-conference on the defensive line, he was also all-conference at tight end.  He's a little short, but when you combine bull strength with the ability to move like he does, then you're going to get some colleges looking at you.

Connor Morehart, Governor Mifflin HS (Shillington)- One of the better defensive linemen in the state thanks to his 6'4" 270 pound size and good athleticism.  Good pass rusher and also excels on the offensive line.  Rutgers has already offered and Pitt has expressed interest.

Brenon Thrift, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  The Steel Valley transfer is one of two Gators who are contenders for the top five prospects in PA for the 2014 class. Already has an NFL physique at a muscular 6'3" and 245 pounds.  Some schools may look at him as a middle linebacker, though he's in danger of outgrowing that position.  Already has offers from Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Michigan.

Rick Young, Souderton Area HS (Souderton)- He's good on the offensive line, but this young man was born to be a nose tackle.  Not only is he already 6'2" and 300 pounds, but he is also quick, tenacious, and strong.  A big Penn State fan but Pitt is among those who are interested in him.

Hez Trehan, Roman Catholic HS (Philadelphia)-  A beast off the corner at 6'4" and 235 pounds. Very athletic and plays basketball, too.

Where Pitt stands:  Boxen and Fields would both be excellent additions, even though for some reason Fields doesn't have a Pitt offer yet.  I can see both adding size and being quick, athletic defensive tackles for the Panthers, but both are also athletic enough to be ends in a 4-3.  Barge and Young are two of my favorites from outside of the area.  Barge is a smaller, explosive type in the Aaron Donald mold, whereas Young is a big, mobile nose guard that could do wonders for the Panthers defense.  Thrift is a national recruit that the Panthers would love, but right now I see him going elsewhere.


Dorian Arthur, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- Missed the second half of the season because of a concussion, so he may be a bit under the radar, but he runs track and is already a solid 6'3" and 210 pounds. 

Tyler Burke, Coatesville HS (Coatesville)-  One of the top prospects in the state thanks to his legit 6'4" 240 pound size, good quickness, and tenacity.  Projects just as well at tight end. Already holds offers from Maryland, NC State, and Temple, and Pitt is one of the schools who recently stopped in to his school to see him.

Donovan Cobb, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Very good tight end for the powerful Quips but at 6'1" and 210 pounds, he's too small for that position.  His brother, Ashton, plays at Kentucky.

Allan Cratsenberg, Highlands HS (Natrona Heights)- Typical western PA star linebacker in the mold of Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee.  At 6'3" and 220 pounds, he is very athletic and flies around the field.  Runs track, does the shot put, wrestles, and plays basketball.  Very high ceiling.

Zaire Franklin, LaSalle College HS (Philadelphia)- Should be among the highest ranked prospects in the state when all is said and done.  At 6'2" and 220 pounds, he hits like a runaway train and runs extremely well.  He is just as good in pass defense as he against the run.  Big time player that Pitt has already talked to.

Christian Lezzer, Clearfield HS (Clearfield)- Talented 6'1" 215 pounder who moves very well and plays hard.  Very versatile and plays many positions, but projects best at linebacker or maybe even safety.  

Denny Lord, Neshaminy HS (Langhorne)- One of three Neshaminy kids who have a chance to be high major players, Lord is a do everything type who is a solid 6'1" and 210 pounds.  

Justice Rawlins, Monessen HS (Monessen)-  His brother, Chavas, is off to play at West Virginia next season and Justice already has offers from Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Akron.  Solidly built at 6'1" and 220 pounds.  Has improved a lot as his junior season went on.

Zaihe Regus, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  Talented player with quickness and toughness, but at 5'10" and 210 pounds, size may make many schools shy away.  

Nate Stone, Greensburg Central Catholic HS (Greensburg)- A heat seeking ball of muscle on the field. Aggressive and quick.  Listed at 6'0" and 220 pounds, and it may come down to just how tall he really is. If he ends up being under 6'0" tall, then obviously many top programs will shy away from him. Also a great student.

Chase Winovich, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills)-  One of my personal picks for a player who is really going to blow up over the next year.  The former safety moved to middle linebacker this season and turned into a holy terror.  Only 6'4" and 200 pounds right now, but he looks to be running twice as fast as everybody on the field.  When he he gains weight over the next year or two he could be something else.

(2015) Jake Cooper, Archbishop Wood HS (Warminster)- As a sophomore he was one of the best players for the AAA state runner up.  Though he played on the defensive line this season, his future is at middle linebacker.  Right now he's at 6'2" and 230 pounds, and built like a rock.  Also an excellent wrestler.

(2015) Kevin Givens, Altoona Area HS (Altoona)- Very talented athlete who already is a solid 6'2" and 225 pounds. Very good straight line speed and a good tackler who explodes into the backfield. With two years of high school to play and his lean frame he could eventually turn into a pass rushing defensive end prospect. Very high ceiling player who could get recruited nationally.

Where Pitt stands:  The Panthers still need linebacker depth and talent, and it would be nice to add Cratsenberg and Winovich, two locals who will probably be "3-star" players, who have the potential to be much better than that.  Rawlins is also coming on strong and would make an excellent third addition.  And Gillaspie, who I will mention in the "athlete" section is another high potential prospect.  Burke and Franklin are two elite linebackers on the other side of the state.  Both would be huge gets but it will be hard to get either.  With the state loaded with top linebackers this year the Panthers really need to come through with a handful of them this year.


Patrick Amara, West Philadelphia HS (Philadelphia)-  For some reason he gets mentioned more as a receiver but he's much better on the defensive side of the field where he uses his 6'2" 175 pound frame, long wingspan, and quickness to be a real ballhawk.  

Brandan Blair, Sto-Rox HS (McKees Rocks)-  Versatile athlete who at 5'11" and 175 pounds is probably best suited at safety.  Cousin of DeJuan Blair and Cameron Saddler.  Recently picked up a Temple offer.

Joey Brungo, Kiski Area HS (Vandergrift)- A bit of a sleeper with good speed and athleticism to go with nice 6'2" and 180 pound size.  Also a talented baseball player. His sister is on the Pitt Swimming team. 

Elijah Cottrill, Beaver Falls HS (Beaver Falls)-  Excellent athlete and fast at 6'2" and 180 pounds.  Also one of the best basketball players in western PA, and he is a possible D-1 player at that sport.

Anthony Davis, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  One of the best cornerback prospects in the state.  Excellent 6'1" 180 pound size.  Excellent cover skills but he'll come up strong in run support, too.  Pitt is already recruiting him and he holds offers from Illinois, Texas Tech, and Toledo.

Dravon Henry, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  At least one of the top five prospects in the state for 2014, and may even be the top dog.  Very fast and quick.  Not big at 5'11" and 185 pounds, but he has the makings of an Ed Reed-type centerfielder on defense. Could also be an excellent college running back but he wants to play safety.  Obviously there is a pipeline from Aliquippa to Pitt but Ohio State could be a major player, too. Pitt, Ohio State, Rutgers, and West Virginia are some of the top programs that have already offered him.

Felix Manus-Schell, Cathedral Prep HS (Erie)-  There's a handful of excellent cornerbacks in this PA class, but this young man is a contender for the best of the bunch.  Stood out as a junior on the Quad A state champs thanks to his 6'0" 170 pound size and his superb ball skills. Has heard from Pitt but is a big Penn State fan.

Trevon Mathis, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)-  Athletic at 5'11" and 165 pounds.  Performed extremely well in 7 on 7 tournaments last summer, then followed it up with a very good season.  

Nate Monroe, Bishop McDevitt HS (Harrisburg)-  Excellent high school linebacker that projects to safety at the college level due to his 5'11" 185 pound body.  Tough, aggressive tackler.   

Montae Nicholson, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  Could be the top prospect int he state next season.  Already a solidly built 6'2" and 200 pounds.  Highly athletic and quick.  Can project just as well as a wide receiver.  Put on a show in offseason camps and combines and came back with offers from the likes of Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Ohio State, Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech, and Michigan already.  There will be many more.

Jermaine Norris, Mastery Charter North HS (Philadelphia)-  Athletic cover corner with some length and speed.  Has to gain weight to his 5'11" 175 pound frame, but he has good length for a corner with long arms.  Was named first team all-state this season in AAA.

Delvon Randall, Gateway HS (Monroeville)-  The entire Gators defensive backfield are going to go D-1 and this 6'0" 185 pound safety should have many options.  Toledo has already offered but there will be more.  

Harry Randall, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh)-  Solid 6'0" 185 pound body with very good speed, athleticism, and hands.  Has everything it takes to be a big time safety but he needs to work on his academics.

Tyree Spearman, McDowell HS (Erie)-  Small at 5'9" and 180 pounds, and he needs work on his grades, but other than that he's an excellent prospect who is very tough and aggressive, but also has very good speed.  One of the better wrestlers in the state, too.  Teammate with incoming Pitt signee James Conner. 

Niko Thorpe, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh)-  Impressively aggressive and quick linebacker but at 5'10" and 210 pounds, he will have to move to safety if he wants to be a major D-1 prospect. If he stays at linebacker, he will end up at mid-major or smaller program.

Elijah Zeise, North Allegheny HS (Wexford)-  The son of former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pitt beat writer, Paul Zeise, he has impressive speed and athleticism at a very solid 6'2" and 185 pounds.  Could also project at wide receiver but appears best suited for safety. Already holds a Pitt offer. 

(2015) John Reid, St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)-  Cornerbacks who can truly cover a receiver one and one are highly coveted. That's why as a 5'9" 160 pound sophomore, Reid already has offers from Rutgers, Maryland, UCF, Boston College, and Colorado. Needless to say, he will be one of the top cornerbacks nationally in '15.  

(2015) Carrington Vaughn, Fox Chapel Area HS (Pittsburgh)- Sleek, athletic linebacker who at 5'11" and 175 pounds will project to safety at the next level.  Runs an 11.83 100m, which should only improve as he mature.  Hits like a train.  

(2015) Jordan Whitehead, Central Valley HS (Monaca)-  Robert Foster got all of the attention at Central Valley but this sophomore is just as talented.  At 5'10" and 170 pounds, he has speed to burn and some of the quickest feet in the country.  A definite national recruit and major Pitt target.  Already holds a Rutgers offer.  Best friends with Foster so that may be a factor in where he ends up.

Where Pitt stands:  The state is very deep at this position this year and like every program in the country, Pitt can never have enough defensive backs.  Henry is the big name here and as a national recruit with huge potential, he is a must get.  If Zeise would join him, the Panthers would have done extremely well at the safety position.  Cottrill will be excellent, too, but he may end up playing basketball in college.  Nicholson may be the biggest name of all, but I think he will wind up at someplace like Ohio State.  Davis would be a huge addition at corner as would Manus-Schell, but he may be headed to Penn State.  Spearman is small, but he's very good.  Vaughn, and especially Whitehead, are huge targets in '15.


Dashawn Darden, Cardinal O'Hara HS (Springfield)-  Excellent high school quarterback, and has the talent to be a very good small college quarterback, but at 5'10" and 175 pounds he will have to switch to wide receiver or cornerback if he wants to play high major football.

Clintell Gillaspie, Monessen HS (Monessen)-  Here is a player that few have heard of, but that a lot of recruiting fans will hear about over the next year.  Already a great build at 6'2" and 220 pounds, but he's very fast and athletic.  Could turn into a major prospect.

Brandon Mitchell, Fox Chapel Area HS (Pittsburgh)-  The Penn Hills transfer plays quarterback now, and has a strong arm to go with his 6'6" 200 pound frame, but he doesn't really have the quarterback skills yet. If he can develop them during the upcoming season then he would make a great developmental prospect for somebody. Otherwise, he could make it at wide receiver due to his height and excellent speed. Excellent hurdler who is the nephew of former Penn Hills track star Dion Bentley, who set a scholastic long jump record in 1989. 

DeAndre Scott, Imhotep Charter School (Philadelphia)-  He may sound small at 5'9" and 180 pounds, but he will lay out anybody who roams into his area, which is everywhere on the field thanks to his excellent 11.37 100m speed.  The emotional leader of the loaded Imhotep squad.  Big time player who has been called a high school Brian Dawkins by Philadelphia high school football observers. 

Thaddius Smith, Cardinal O'Hara HS (Springfield)-  Even though he's just 5'9" and 170 pounds, he will be ranked near the top of the PA rankings due to his great speed and athleticism.  Can play running back, wide receiver, or cornerback but he seems ideal to be used in the same way Tavon Austin was used at West Virginia.  Rutgers and Temple have already offered.

Terry Swanson, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa)-  Only 5'9" and 180 pounds so he may have to move to defensive back, but he has such nice running skills that it would be great to give him a look at that position first.  Excellent quickness and very good speed.  His dad is a Pitt alum.

Lenny Williams, Sto-Rox HS (McKees Rocks)- One of the most productive quarterbacks in WPIAL history, and he has a strong arm, but at 5'11" and 195 pounds he will probably have to play wide receiver or safety if he wants a shot at a high major program. I could definitely see him as an excellent quarterback option at a midlevel or small program.  Just picked up a Temple offer.

Daquan Worley, Coatesville Area HS (Coatesville)-  Very good 11.45 100m speed with off the charts quickness.  At 5'10" and 175 pounds he will need to get bigger to be an every down back, but even if not he has great hands and could be a wide receiver, while also projecting just as well as a cornerback.

Where Pitt stands:  Gillaspie I mentioned in the linebacker section and Mitchell I mention in the wide receiver section.  Both are exciting athletes.  Scott, Smith, and Worley are all big time athletes but as they are on the eastern side of the state, Pitt would have a tough battle for all.  Swanson is a very good player who will probably end up at Pitt if he gets offered.  


Adam Mitcheson, Kiski Area HS (Vandergrift)- It's not too often that I even bother with talking about kickers because not a lot get scholarship offers, but this kid has special skills.  Has a strong body at 6'2" and 190 pounds, and can punt and placekick equally well.

Where Pitt stands:  The Panthers are already bringing in a punter and a kicker this season, but this kid is the real deal.  Will Pitt go for a third kicker in a two year span?


  1. Thanks for all the info!

  2. Great article Chris. Tons of info.

    CV coach thinks Whitehead likes Ohio State at this point but hopefully Pitt can stay involved. There is a relation with Revis on some levels (second cousins or something) so hopefully the Aliquippa/Beaver County connection can continue and bring him to Pitt. Academics may be a factor in his decision because Jordan is a good student unlike Foster who tries hard but struggles so that may help Pitt. If Foster does change back to Pitt, then I think Whitehead is a given.

    Do you know what the Aliquippa staff thinks of Chryst? For years Coach Z has pushed his kids to Pitt. Just hope it continues. So many good players in Beaver County. Pitt might be smart to set up a satellite office in the Beaver Valley Mall.

    1. The main reason for the pipeline is Aliquippa alum Chris LaSala.

  3. Thanks Chris, awesome article. Quick question. I was under the impression Justice Rawlins was planning on being a packaged deal and was gonna go wherever his brother went. Obviously he can't do that if he doesn't have a scholarship from wvu yet, but would you know is that still his plan? Do we have a shot at him?

    1. Definitely not a sure thing that he'll follow him.

  4. Chris,

    How would you compare Apke to Foster? Same type of receiver? Quality route runners? National recognition? Thanks in advance.

    1. Same size and speed but Foster has off the charts quickness. Apke won't be ranked nearly as high but the difference between them isn't as great as people will let you believe.

  5. I graduated from Quip. Moved to CV district about seven years ago. I kept hearing about Whitehead and I actually assumed he played for Quip at the time. When I found out he didnt I asked the coaches at Quip that coached for a long time about him if he was legit!!! They said "oh yeah, he is real good, the best we ever seen at that age!!!" That says something coming from a Quip coach who has been involved in youth sports for 30 years!!!

    I used to see Jordan all the time at our local pool. What a great kid!! I hope for the best for him!!! He deserves it

    Oh and during his youth days of football the coaches used to put a limit on his touchdowns. Can only score three. They didnt care how, int, running, receiving, kick return whatever after three the score was out of hand and he would be on bench!!!


    1. In the nationally-televised ESPN game a year ago showcasing Shell and Foster, Whitehead took sn interception back to the house... and made it look easy.

      Being only a freshman, that's all it took to realize this kid is really, really good.

      No mystery here.


  6. Pitt has made 40 offers for the 2014 class... of which 14 are rated by rivals.
    11 of the 40 are from wpial...

    OSU has made 83 offers.... as a comparison.

  7. Joe at least 40 are out. 25 can only accept. I like how they do not just throw out offers. I believe they may of learned there lesson from this class. This is how osu gets the perception of screwing over recruits. Offering kids do not mean your not recruiting 83 different kids

  8. I sure hope the Mt Lebo kids liked Coach H as those 2 kids are big time players as positions of need.

    Chris - what happened with Shai as i thought I had read he was a big Pitt fan and lean??

    1. He talks about leaving the area a lot and he says he hates snow and wants to play in the south. But, like I said, it's a long time until he signs anywhere so we'll see. Once he gets to know the Pitt coaches and players he may feel like Pitt is it for him. A lot can happen.

    2. If Pitt landed Shai McKenzie.... that would be huge.
      He has it all... speed, quickness, size, work ethic, etc.
      But in my opinion... he would be a perfect fit for Alabama.
      In my opinion... he is better than Rushel Shell and has more potential than Rushel Shell.

    3. Here is some analysis of teams of 2014 offers so far..
      Ohio State - 83
      Michigan - 54
      Alabama - 54
      Florida State - 58
      Clemson - 68
      PSU - 35 (limited to 15 ships)
      Rutgers - 48
      WVU - 59
      Maryland - 51

      Goes to show... Pitt with 40... Chryst and crew still don't get it when it comes to recruiting.
      Being first to offer (especially in your backyard) is important.
      It's called Sales and Marketing 101.
      Looks like the class of 2014 is going to suck also... regardless of the talent in the wpial... they will go elsewhere until Chryst and crew "get it" when it comes to recruiting.

  9. Being from central PA, it is good to see a handful of targets from my area, including one from my home school. Lezzer could be a real sleeper at LB/Safety. High intensity, excellent athlete with a strong work ethic. Also plays QB, but is much better suited for defense.

  10. The South gets snow and cold as well unless he chooses a school in Florida but then the humidity is unbearable. Now if he said he wants to play in front of beautiful college girls in the South, now that I can totally understand. I'm hoping Shai eventually realizes Pitt is It and it might actually be fun to play in the snow.

  11. Joe D once again on his Chryst and crew cant recruit soapbox
    Whats next more posts about how Chryst needs to bake the top players cakes and pies


  12. Quote from an article in the Trib concerning Penn State recruits:

    "Hackenberg has been talking to Clairton star Tyler Boyd, who became friends with Hackenberg after the two were teammates in June at the Rivals 100 Five-Star Challenge camp."

    Don't like the sound of that.


  13. Gftoh, yes Joe D goes to extremes but Chyrst's recruiting abilities remain a question mark. Sure, he can recruit tight ends, full backs, and players away from MAC school offers but beyond that, he has had marginal success at best. Hopefully we add a D coordinator that can recruit and replace breckenfield with a good recruiter. Chryst needs strong recruiters around him.

    Chris, thanks for a great post and as always, insights that we can't get elsewhere.

  14. A week ago joe said chryst got recruiting. Now he doesnt. If youre going to go buck wild with what are quite often ridiculous posts and opinions at least be consistent.

    1. Chryst got better in recruiting the 2013 recruits...
      in October and November..
      but forgot to think about 2014...
      As a result of Dokish's current post, I looked to see how many offers Chryst made to 2014...
      I did that last year in Feb I believe for 2013.
      He doesn't get it... he is lagging behind his competition in 2014 just like he was for 2013 recruits.
      How many times did you read about recruits talk about the school that was their 1st offer... it is a fav...

    2. Pitt gave Zeise his first offer and you complained it was for good publicity. Well, now Arizona and Temple have offered Zeise.

      I'm sure that was still for good press from the PG though right?

  15. Doke -

    What will it take for Pitt's recruiting to make it to the next level? Seems like every year, we lock down a couple elite players, but never a critical mass of them. I look at this list, and I just imagine a number of guys that end up out of reach -- just like with this year's class. Eastern PA, especially, hasn't seemed very friendly to Pitt in recent years. I just wonder if it requires more moral flexibility or more winning to get the lion's share of the cream of the PA crop.

    1. Not having 6 coaches in 3 years would be a big help.... I think some fans of other programs are surprised at some of the talent we bring in with what we've gone through lately.

  16. Joe's Redheaded StepchildJanuary 2, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    I must defer all recruiting expertise to JoeD who was actually correct here one time and it has gone to his head. Joe says Pitt has offered 11 out of their 40 scholarships to players in the WPIAL. Of those 11, how many have ohio state and the others offered?

    You do not have to be an expert to realize that Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama and everyone else on your short list recruit nationally. Pitt right now is a regional recruiter, but that will change. It makes absolutely no sense to offer the number 1 ranked 5 star lineman from Illinois or Texas, but I digress. Hence the lower offer numbers in totality. Also Joe, the WPIAL blows according to you. I am shocked that you havent blown a gasket complaining that 11 offers are way too high because these WPIAL kids don't run track.

    You all can argue which comes first the chicken or the egg, or the wins or recruits. The answer is....hell Joe, you have all the answers, so answer the question. Really, that is my question. Does winning lead to better recruiting or does better recruiting lead to winning. Or since we are going green all over this damn planet, is it a hybrid?

  17. Zeise is by far one of the worst cornerbacks I've watched. Spearman is the real deal I don't think he has any offers as of now but he's the total package at the cornerback position

  18. There is a kid a Fleetwood HS... Tyler Emge, is a Soph (2015) ran for 968 yds. and was a great player on "D" also. He's 6'1 and 190, he is as good as any of the other soph / freshman you named!! People need to see him!!!