Recruit Report: Big-school numbers down again



As far as producing major-college talent, it looks like a down year again for the WPIAL and City League, but there are nonetheless a number of top prospects.

The class of 2015 has a decent crop of linemen. Big linemen. A few of those linemen already have made commitments to Division I colleges, and a few more have scholarship offers on the table.

Baldwin's Sterling Jenkins is the biggest of the linemen at 6 feet 8, 301 pounds. He already has made a verbal commitment to Penn State. Hempfield's Tony Pilato is 6-7, 290 and has committed to Pitt. Alex Paulina is a 6-3, 280-pound lineman at Canon-McMillan who also has committed to Pitt.

"Jenkins is a national-type recruit, and Pilato is close to that," said Joe Butler, who has run Metro Index Scouting in Pittsburgh for more than 30 years.

Seneca Valley's Tyler Hudanick is 6-5, 290 and has several scholarship offers from Mid-American Conference schools. South Park's Ryan Podgorski (6-5, 260), Moon's Niko Yaramus (6-3, 280) and Mars' Marshall Robinson also have at least a few offers from MAC colleges. Robinson is 6-4 and tips the scale at 390 pounds.

As for the talent overall, it is not as strong as a number of years ago. Major colleges aren't exactly flocking to Western Pennsylvania for the class of 2015. It was an "up" year in talent last year as 32 players from the WPIAL or City League signed with Division I-A colleges.

This year, 11 WPIAL players have made verbal commitments to Division I-A colleges so far -- six to Pitt. The most heavily recruited player who hasn't made a decision yet undoubtedly is Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead, who is rated among the top cornerbacks in the country. Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Ohio State are four of the schools he is considering, and he also has an offer from Alabama, among others. But it's very likely the number of seniors who sign with Division I-A colleges will be in the low 20s again. The lowest total was 18 in 2013. There were 33 in 2012 and only 21 in 2011 and 28 in 2010. Go back 25-30 years ago, and there would be more than 40 Division I-A players. In the 1960s and 1970s, there might have been 60 or more.

The low number of major-college players seems to be a trend for Western Pennsylvania.

"The [2008] class with Terrelle Pryor, Jonathan Baldwin and Lucas Nix had some unbelievable national-type talent, but it has really dropped off since then," Butler said.

"I think a lot is due to the economic instability of the area, enrollments are down in high schools and just the number of kids playing football is down -- and it's affected the talent level. I've been doing this 38 years and I remember one year, like 1984, when I counted around 65 guys from the western part of the state who were at least 6-4 and 270 pounds or better. Now we just don't have the big guys like we used to and we don't have as many national-type recruits like we used to. ... Really, this has become more of an area for the Mid-American Conference or Missouri Valley Conference type of schools.

"There is nothing wrong with that, but that's just the way it is."


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