Thursday, February 2, 2017

Top 2018 Western Pennsylvania Prospects to Keep an Eye On

TJ Banks, East Allegheny HS (North Versailles) TE- Already a very muscular 6'5" and 230 pounds with the frame to easily add another 30 pounds eventually. Pretty much just used as a big wide receiver now, but he's strong and should eventually turn into a good blocker. Already has a handful of offers, including Pitt, Maryland, and Cincinnati. While it's early, he's very high on the Panthers.

Matthew Bauer, Cathedral Prep HS (Erie) LB- Don't spend too much time keeping an eye on this one. One of the best linebacker prospects in the county, but he has already committed to Notre Dame. If that changes I don't see it changing in Pitt's direction.

Devin Danielson, Thomas Jefferson HS (Jefferson Hills) DT- Already 6'3" and 290 pounds. To be blunt, this kid is a total bad ass. He reminds me a lot of former Pitt star Marc Spindler, who was one of the best defensive tackles in high school before he became a Panther. He has star potential. His head coach is former Pitt offensive lineman Bill Cherpak, so that won't hurt in getting him to Pitt. And he has also said that he's high on the home school. The Panthers just offered, as have West Virginia, UCLA, Virginia, Iowa State, Louisville, and Rutgers. Expect a lot more.

Troy Fisher, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) QB- Good size at 6'4" and 200 pounds. He has a good arm, is mobile in the pocket, and is a tough, mature kid. His early offers so far are Boston College, Temple, and Toledo. Pitt will be looking for a quarterback, but it remains to be seen if this is where they will look.

James Gmiter, Bethel Park HS (Bethel Park, PA) DT- Big 6'4" 300 pounder that has already committed to West Virginia. Pitt did not offer, but Wisconsin did. The Panthers are pretty loaded with young tackles now, and if they add one I think Danielson will be their main target.

David Green, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) DT- If the Panthers are looking for two defensive tackles, this 6'2" 250 pounder will also be in the mix. He would have to get much bigger, though he already looks pretty big, and still keep his impressive speed and athleticism. He's been in contact with Pitt, but no offer yet. West Virginia, Iowa State, Rutgers, and Cincinnati are some of his early offers.

Marcus Hooker, New Castle HS (New Castle, PA) S- The brother of Ohio State star, Malik Hooker. At 5'11" and 185 pounds, he's a little smaller than his brother, and he's not nearly as fast, but his game speed is much better, and he's an excellent athlete. His eventual position will be interesting. He could end up at WR, CB, or S. Pitt has not offered, but West Virginia, Temple, Toledo, and Cincinnati are among those that have.

Shamar Jones, Greater Johnstown HS (Johnstown) DE- Doesn't have the height at 6'1", but he's a solid 240 pounds. He's also a good athlete that plays very aggressively. Good player, but the Panthers are desperate to add an elite end or two in the next class, and it remains to be seen if he'd be that. Bowling Green and Toledo are his biggest offers thus far.

Phil Jurkovec, Pine-Richland HS (Gibsonia) QB- Elite, possibly program changing quarterbacks, don't come around often in the WPIAL, so it is a big loss that he has already committed to Notre Dame. I don't expect that the Panthers staff will give up, and you never know what may happen, but the chances are that he'll stay with Notre Dame.

Jake Kradel, Butler HS (Butler) OG- A solidly built 6'4" 275 pounds, and he has good feet. His dad has Pitt season tickets, and the family grew up as Pitt fans, so the chances of him ending up a Panther are good. But first the Panthers have to offer. NC State and Syracuse are among those that offered so far. I would be surprised if the Panthers didn't also offer.

Jesse Luketa, Mercyhurst Prep HS (Erie) LB- A Canadian native that's going to school across the border, the 6'3" 220 pounder is one of the best linebacker prospects in the country. In fact, he already has over 30 offers, including Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, and LSU. He's exactly the type of linebacker that the Panthers need to reach a higher level, and he likes Pitt, but the competition is so fierce that getting him should be considered a long shot.

Julian Major, Penn Hills HS (Pittsburgh) WR- Very good speed and hands to go with nice length on a 6'2" frame. Needs to add a lot of size to his 165 pound frame, but that is something that can be rectified. I would be surprised if Pitt didn't offer, especially since the likes of Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Kentucky already have.

Kwantel Raines, Aliquippa HS (Aliquippa) S- Of the most realistic options, Raines, along with Danielson, are probably the two that the Panthers need to land the most because they're both really good, and they both have a strong connection to Pitt. A lot may depend on what position he is open to. With Paris Ford already at the free safety spot, if Raines has his heart set on that position, he may decide it's better to go elsewhere. His ideal position, should be end up at Pitt, may be the STAR linebacker position, where he could combine with Ford to have an amazingly fast and athletic defense. A replacement for Jordan Whitehead at the strong safety position is another possibility. This could very well come down to a Pitt and Penn State battle, though other offers so far include West Virginia, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Louisville.

Juice Scruggs, Cathedral Prep HS (Erie) OG- A little smallish at 6'3" and 270 pounds, but that hasn't mattered to schools that are recruiting him. Pitt just offered the other day, but so have Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, and North Carolina. He is an Ohio native, and the Buckeyes are considered the favorite.

Malik Shepherd, Beaver Falls HS (Beaver Falls) WR- Very fast, very athletic slot receiver at 5'11" and 170 pounds. Because he's not the big receiver that most schools want, his offer list may not be as long as his talent warrants, but he would be a nice fit for the Panthers offense in the same role that Quadree Henderson currently has. West Virginia, Temple, and Toledo are his early offers.

Ronnie Stevenson, Montour HS (McKees Rocks) PA- Intriguing prospect because of his 6'5" 200 pound body and very good straight line speed. The Panthers have expressed a lot of interest thus far, but so far Temple is his only offer.

Khalil Weathers, Central Catholic HS (Pittsburgh) CB- Even though the Panthers have a lot of young cornerbacks, they will add at least a few every year. This local product, thanks to his 6'0" 180 pound frame and good athleticism could be in the mix.

Najhier West, Steel Valley HS (Munhall) RB/WR- Yes, he's only 5'8" and 175 pounds, but as his now legendary touchdown run in the state championships showed, he is a real talent. He is fast and quick, and he is very similar to Quadree Henderson. If the Panthers want another player like Henderson (and he's an  All-American, so why not?), then this may be where they look. Former teammate of Paris Ford.

Kenny White, West Allegheny HS (Imperial, PA) CB- This is another player that should be high on Pitt's list. He looks bigger than his listed 6'0" 185 pounds. Very good athlete. Iowa State is his first offer, but I'd be surprised if the Panthers didn't offer soon.

Blake Zubovic, Belle Vernon Area HS (Belle Vernon) OT- Already 6'6" and 285 pounds, but the frame to get even bigger. Excellent feet and moves extremely well. The Panthers just offered. Could be an excellent addition if they land him because he has a very high ceiling.


  1. I notice a lot of these kids have Iowa State offers. Particular reason the Cyclones are so active in Western PA?

    1. Their coach came over from Toledo last year so he knows the area.

  2. I watched first 2 min of Zubovic jr year Hudl tape and was very impressed - both sides of the ball..not only does he move well but he's very 15 minutes from BVA - wasnt aware they had a D-1 talent.