Tuesday, March 12, 2013

PA Top 25 for 2014 (March '13)

Usually I wait until the camp and combine circuit to wind down in June before I make the first rankings, but I decided this year to get a jump on things so the readers can keep an eye on players leading into the camps and combines.  This list will obviously change in a few months since prospects will move up or down the list depending on how well they do over the next few months.  Some positions, like quarterback, wide receivers, linemen, and defensive backs in particular tend to impress in the spring.

1.  Shai McKenzie, Washington HS (Washington) RB-  The top end of the PA class is loaded but nobody has more offers than McKenzie. Runs tough at a rock solid 5'11" and 210 pounds and he's been timed at a blazing 10.83 100m at a track meet.  Pittsburgh is a major player, and maybe even the current leader, but some of his biggest offers include Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

2.  Dravon Henry, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa) S-  Excellent, rangy athlete who could be an elite running back or safety if he wanted to, but he wants to play safety.  Not big for the position at 5'11" and 180 pounds, but he's a fabulous talent. Aliquippa is a pipeline to Pitt and once again the Panthers seem to be the current favorite, but other offers have come from Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan, Washington, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Rutgers.

3.  Montae Nicholson, Gateway HS (Monroeville) S- Big time athlete with great length on a muscular 6'2" 200 pound frame. Showed in combines last year that he was the real deal. Can be a star wide receiver at the college level, but may be getting more looks at safety where he also can be outstanding. Pittsburgh and Ohio State may be the leaders, and both have offered, as have Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Florida State, and Stanford.

4.  Alex Bookser, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon) OT/DT-  Great 6'6" 295 pound size, but even better than that he can really move well.  So much so that not only could he be a big time left tackle, but he could also be a dominating defensive tackle.  Recruiting should continue to explode but some early offers include Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio State, Florida State, Nebraska, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, and Rutgers.

5.  K.J. Williams, Liberty HS (Bethlehem) WR-  Has everything it takes to be a great receiver with 6'2" 190 pound size, great hands, and excellent speed and athleticism.  Makes circus catches look routine.  Early offers from Pittsburgh, Michigan, Rutgers, and South Carolina but many more are on the way.

6.  DeAndre Scott, Imhotep Charter School (Philadelphia) CB-  Called the Brian Dawkins of Philadelphia high school football because of his playmaking and vicious hitting. Only 5'9" and 180 pounds, but plays bigger and has excellent speed and quickness. Early offers include Pittsburgh, Penn State, West Virginia, Miami, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Rutgers, and Texas.

7.  Mike Grimm, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park) OT-  Giant 6'6" 310 pound frame and he looks like a house.  Better feet than given credit for, but make no mistake about it, brute force is his game and he pushes defenders all over the field. Pittsburgh is the favorite, and West Virginia, Virginia, Rutgers, and Arizona also offered.

8.  Anthony Davis, Gateway HS (Monroeville) CB/S-  Great 6'1" 180 pound size for a lockdown corner and he combines that with very good speed and quickness.  If he doesn't work out at corner, he could be a great safety. Early offers include Penn State, West Virginia, Nebraska, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati.

9.  Chase Winovich, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills) LB-  Moved from safety to linebacker last season and a star was born. Great length at 6'4", but needs to add weight to his 210 pound frame. Amazing range and can really fly. Should add weight now that he knows that linebacker is his future, and once that weight and strength is added, he could be a major force. Pittsburgh is the favorite and other offers include Florida State, West Virginia, Boston College, and Syracuse

10.  Troy Apke, Mt. Lebanon HS (Mt. Lebanon) WR-  Needs to gain weight but at 6'2" and 175 pounds he has great length.  Runs in the 4.4s and plays all out on every play by jumping, leaping, and diving.  Also an excellent return man.  His father, Steve, was a star linebacker for Pittsburgh so they may be the favorite.  Other offers have come from Penn State, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, and Kentucky.

11.  Chandler Kincade, Blackhawk HS (BEaver Falls) QB- Needs to fill out his 220 pound frame, but has great 6'5" height.  Doesn't have a cannon for an arm but it's stronger than average and should only get stronger once he fills out.  Good leader.  Has battled injuries, but he's tough. Mobile in the pocket. Chose PITTSBURGH long ago, and Rutgers and Temple also offered.

12.  Tyler Burke, Coatesville HS (Coatesville) DE/LB/TE-  Small school star who dominates thanks to his great 6'4" 240 pound size, quickness, toughness, and instincts.  Projects at all three positions, but most schools are leaning towards defensive end, even though he plays linebacker and tight end at Coatesville.    Offers so far from Pittsburgh (as DE), Wisconsin, Maryland, North Carolina State, Rutgers, and Temple.

13.  Noah Beh, Scranton Prep (Scranton) DE/OT-  Great 6'6" 245 pound size and moves very well for his lanky frame.  Most schools, like Pittsburgh, are looking at him for defensive end, but a few, like Penn State, have offered him at offensive tackle.  Other offers have come from Boston College, Maryland, UConn, and Temple.  Penn State or Boston College may be the teams to beat.

14.  Robert Martin, Harrisburg HS (Harrisburg) RB-  A real game breaker with very good speed and topnotch quickness.  Solidly built 5'11" and 195 pounds, and he has the frame to add more muscle. Has the ability to move up the rankings. Can also move to safety if need be. West Virginia, Rutgers, and Temple are his big offers so far.

15.  Brenon Thrift, Gateway HS (Monroeville) DE/LB-  The former Steel Valley HS transfer is already built like an NFL player at 6'3" and 245 pounds.  Wants to play middle linebacker but may outgrow that position.  Played defensive end last year at Gateway and showed good pass rushing skills.  Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Michigan have offered.

16.  Ricky Rogers, Gateway HS (Monroeville) WR-  Another kid who transferred to Gateway, this time from Keystone Oaks HS. Even though he plays for Gateway, he is home schooled.  Good size at 6'2" and 195. Strong build, great hands, good athleticism and speed.  He is a world class dancer, believe it or not, and wants to major in dance in college.  That college will be WEST VIRGINIA where he committed back in December.  Pittsburgh and Rutgers also offered, but there would have been more if he didn't commit so early.

17.  Daquan Worley, Coatesville HS (Coatesville) RB/CB-  The second of Coatesville's excellent duo, but he's a very good prospect in his own right.  Only 5'10" and 175 pounds so he isn't the ideal size for running back, but he runs strong between the tackles and he has game breaking speed.  His best two offers so far are Rutgers and Georgia Tech but that list will grow.

18.  Thadd Smith, Cardinal O'Hara HS (Springfield) WR-  Versatile player who lines up at running back, wide receiver, and defensive back, but because of his excellent speed, quickness, and 5'9" 165 pound size, slot receiver and return man seems to be the best fit for him.  Offers have come from Rutgers, Boston College, and Temple.

19.  Elijah Zeise, North Allegheny HS (Wexford) WR/S-  Started as a sophomore on probably the best program in the state so that says something right there.  Good 6'2" 185 pound size to go with good quickness and speed.  Excellent student. May be better at safety, but some are looking at him at receiver.  Son of Pitt beat writer paul Zeise so the Panthers may be the favorite, but Arizona and Temple have also offered.

20.  Joe Cosentino, Central Catholic (Pittsburgh) QB- On paper, he looks like a star.  Has great 6'4" 220 pound size, he is fast with good athleticism, and has a very strong arm.  The only problem is, he hasn't done much at all yet in high school so this is the highest I could go with him at this stage. If he lives up to his potential this year he will catapult into the top ten. Also a very good punter. Florida State and South Florida have offered.

21.  Zaire Franklin, LaSalle College HS (Philadelphia) LB- A stocky, muscular 6'1" and 215 pounder who has good range and hits like a ton of bricks.  Plays well against the run or the pass.  Pittsburgh and Temple are his best offers so far.

22.  Harry Randall, Woodland Hills HS (Pittsburgh) S- Talented, quick athlete with great range. Not big for safety at 5'11" and 185 pounds, but he's tough. Had a major knee injury last season but shouldn't be a long term problem. Grades are a major problem and that's why he has no major offers yet.

23.  Justice Rawlins, Monessen HS (Monessen) LB- A solidly built 6'1" and 225 pounds, and he combines that with good straight line speed.  Lost his sophomore year after blowing out his knee and only started coming full force at the end of last year.  For that reason he may have a huge senior year that could result in even more offers.  Right now the offer list is headed by Pittsburgh and Rutgers.  His brother, Chavas, is an incoming freshman quarterback at West Virginia this season so they could be the favorite if they offered.

24.  Brock Boxen, Beaver Falls HS (Beaver Falls) DT-  Tough scrapper at 6'2" and 265 pounds.  Has the frame to add more weight and could be a real force inside thanks to his toughness and quicks.  So far Pittsburgh is his only offer.

25.  Andrew Ford, Cedar Cliff HS (Camp Hill) QB- Crafty 6'3" 190 pound lefty who runs a 4.65 and throws a nice ball.  Should get better offers over the next few months when schools can see him throw up close.  Temple is his biggest offer so far.








40 comments:

  1. The very best part of this list: variations of the phrase "Pitt has offered" are linked to almost every kid's name. (Well, that plus hardly any mention of the filthy OSU Bugeyes, and none -- yet -- of Alabama).

    That shows some real progress & growth by our head coach & his staff.

    Next I'll be looking for story updates with variations of the phrase "Pitt is really working hard to woo this kid." Then we'll know the HC & staff finally get it.

    PC can still be the low-key closer if that's how he wants to play it, okay with me. But first you gotta cut thru the noise and soften the kid, get him in position where you can give your closing pitch.

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    1. I would rather the prospects be linked with Ohio St, Florida St, and Alabama than see Akron, Toledo, and Central Michigan as the other schools interested.

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  2. Is anybody else worried about another QB from Central Catholic with the name "tino" (albeit Cosentino, ranked #20)?

    After the scorched earth left by our local hero at QB the last three years, even if Dan Marino was coming out of HS this year I'd be concerned about recruiting him just because his name rhymes with Tino! (kidding, sorta...).

    Just like I could never again date another woman with the same name as my miserable ex-wife, no matter how hot she is.

    (Tongue in cheek ... mostly)

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    Replies
    1. LMAO...
      Only you would pick that out!!

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  3. whats up with florida state offering so many? any realistic shot any go there?

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    Replies
    1. Sal Sunseri is DLine coach at FSU...
      and Sal is Central Catholic grad... and coached at Pitt when TJ HC was there so they know each other.

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    2. I think it's Sal Sunseri's mission to make Pitt pay for not hiring him.

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    3. I would agree with that thinking Chris. He's a good recruiter so he will probably cost us some recruits in the future. Especially with FSU being in our conference now.

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    4. Yeah, makes sense. Pitt only provided a free education and great football atmosphere for him, so that he could later pursue a lucrative career in the industry. Then, they provided another free education to his son and allowed him to be the starting QB for a couple of years. He steered his other son, the talented one, away from Pitt. Yeah, Pitt really did that "loyal Pitt man" wrong! He's a joke if he has stooped to that level. I don't see any other D1 schools looking to make him HC, either.

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    5. Anonymous..
      1. Sal is doing his job.
      2. You have a short memory because Sal always recruited wpial in his previous positions. You may recall, he almost landed Rushel Shell and he offered Rob Foster when at Alabama.

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    6. Offering 5 star players is one thing. Offering every good WPIAL prospect is a different story.

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    7. Joe D:

      I was responding to CD's comment that Sale's mission is to stick it to Pitt. All I was saying is that Pitt has done an awful lot for him and his family, and it doesn't say much for his character if he really wants to stick it to Pitt. And Pitt isn't the reason he doesn't have a HC gig because no one else is jumping at the chance to give him his shot year after year.

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  4. Jaleel Fields is better than Boxen. Saw Boxen twice, and Fields was better head to head

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  5. Why would Ricky Rodgers go to WVU if he wants to major in dance.
    The "Arts" in morgantown is burning a couch!!
    Do they even have a theater in morgantown? Ballet company?

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  6. Maybe I'm a little bias but I agree Joe Bull. I kept waiting to see Fields name I scrolled Nd was surprised to see vixen show up.

    Oh and Joe D I sorta thought the same thing when I read his name and school!!!

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  7. Is it my imagination or is the demise of WPIAL and PA talent greatly exaggerated?

    PittofDreams

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    1. Certainly seems to have cycled back up since the turn of the century. There was some definitely high end talent then (Poluszny, Breaston, Andrew Johnson, Palko, Justin King, Neil Walker, Revis, Shawntae Spencer, Rutherford, McClintock ect...).... But without having the numbers to back it up, it seems like there's more D1 and BCS scholarships being given out now, compared to then. And I would argue the high end quality is just as strong too, if not better...

      But your point is not lost though. While the WPIAL will never compete with Tx, FL, CA, BCS schools can always count on mining a couple dozen players a year from the area.

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    2. Andrew Johnson did squat and doesn't belong on that list!

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    3. My point was to reference the high end talent, which I think he was... I can agree that his production left something to be desired... At both levels.

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  8. Chris, I have been reading your tweets on Jamie Dixon - in your opinion do you believe that he will leave pitt after this season?

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    Replies
    1. No, but if USC is determined to get him then there is always a chance.

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    2. Dixon will not take a Pac-12 job as long as Howland is at UCLA, you can engrave that in stone.

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  9. Are all lefties crafty or does that only apply in baseball? What makes Ford so crafty?

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  10. Uni's of ND and Cincy BB are ugly...
    those pants need to go.

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  11. Chris -
    If Dixon were to leave after the season, do you have a sense of where Pitt would look for a replacement -- and how much they'd be willing to pay? I'd fear that we would go with a Chryst-type figure instead of someone who could take a perennial top 25 program to the next level.

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    Replies
    1. It would have to be the perfect storm for him to leave but if he did I think a lot of coaches would kill to coach at Pitt.

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    2. If Dixon were to leave, which really isn't even remotely possible, the first man on the list of replacements would be Sean Miller. He'd jump at the chance to coach Pitt.

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  12. Doke, always love the intel you provide. I know you keep saying Pitt may have the edge with Zeise due to his dad but I have to remind you again of the article PZ wrote a while before he left saying he doesn't care about Pitt winning or losing, doesn't root for them so based on that, how do we know Pitt has an inside track? Those comments ticked me off as I already felt like the guy didn't work that hard to cover Pitt and then he all but validated it.

    Boxen better than Fields. You can't teach the drive and determination like this kid has. However, with Inoke breckenbaur as the d line coach, I wouldnt' go to Pitt if I was this kid.

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    Replies
    1. He meant that as a beat writer he's not supposed to be a fan. But his son grew up with Pitt and is very familiar with the program.

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    2. He always said you're not supposed to be a fan, which as Chris said is something you have to say.
      But you can always tell that Pitt frustrated the hell out of him.

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    3. He was the beat writer for a long time and I don't think it's a big secret that he didn't want to do that forever. I don't blame him. At a newspaper, only high school sports writer is considered lower.

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    4. Chris,

      What is he doing for work now?

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    5. He works for the paper doing different sports assignments.

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    6. PZ has a blog on the PG called Zeise Out Loud and also does weekend/fill-in host work for the Fan.

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  13. Presently unless things change the Nits are not a player for many WPIAL recruits. Giving 9 scholies for 2014 has to impact them numerically, but also what they now are into year two with out any real WPIAL presence.

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  14. I heard the Bookser kid was offered by Alabama and Tennessee today. Do you think Pitt has any chance with him?

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    1. Well, he's definitely not going to Alabama or Tennessee. Pitt is the current favorite but there's a long way to go.

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    2. If Bookser and Apke do not end up at Pitt, you'd have to wonder why in the world Haering is on Pitt's staff. Those two should be shoo-ins.

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