North Xtra: Highlands grad leading Colts with arm, legs
July 17, 2014 12:00 AM
After a standout career at Robert Morris, Highlands High graduate Jeff Sinclair is continuing to ply his skills at the semipro level for the Pittsburgh Colts.
By Nicholas Tolomeo / Tri-State Sports & News Service
For Pittsburgh Colts semipro football league owner and coach Ed Brosky, there is no more fertile recruiting ground than the annual Duquesne-Robert Morris college football game.
At the 2012 meeting at Robert Morris, Brosky may have picked up his best find yet.
At that game he watched quarterback Jeff Sinclair complete 11 of 17 passes for 146 yards while also rushing seven times for 60 yards. A Sinclair 11-yard touchdown run staked Robert Morris to an early lead and after falling behind, 13-10, in the fourth quarter, Sinclair connected on a 41-yard winning touchdown pass.
"I was just impressed with his ability to run, his ability to throw and his ability to throw on the run," Brosky said.
To the surprise of Brosky, Sinclair went unsigned with any professional team -- NFL, Canadian or arena league -- after graduating from Robert Morris in 2012.
Brosky recruited Sinclair this year and the former Highlands High School standout came out for the team. Three games into the season, Brosky is raving about his new quarterback.
"This is the best quarterback we have had in our system," said Brosky, who started the Colts in 1979. "This kid is fast and he can throw the ball on the run and throw it accurately."
Even before Brosky discovered Sinclair in 2012, he was a known commodity in the area.
He was a four-year letter-winner and three-year starter at Highlands. He led his team to the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals in 2008, a season in which he rushed for 1,222 yards and passed for another 1,262. He scored 23 touchdowns that season and finished his career with 54 touchdowns and more than 4,700 yards of total offense. He was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 team in 2007 and '08 and was the PG North Player of the Year in 2008.
He put up big numbers in college, too. He emerged as a starter his freshman year, starting the final seven games of the season. He finished his career with 6,689 yards of total offense, 57 passing touchdowns and 17 rushing touchdowns.
A 6-foot-2, 190-pounder, Sinclair is one of the most athletic players on the team. In high school he earned three letters in basketball and three letters in track. He is one of the only players on the Pittsburgh Colts who does not play both offense and defense, but he easily could.
While playing in the secondary at Highlands, he totaled 164 career tackles and 12 interceptions. He earned all-state honors as a safety from The Associated Press and the Pennsylvania Football News.
He is thriving this year on a Pittsburgh Colts team full of athletes and other former Robert Morris standouts.
"Jeff has a lot of potential," Brosky said. "His upside is something that we want to tap into and we have very good receivers."
In a June 21 win against Akron, he rushed nine times for 113 yards and threw for 197 yards. He had a rushing and passing touchdown in that game.
"This is one tough kid," Brosky said. "He is tough physically. He has made a couple of runs you would have thought he was John Riggins. He keeps breaking off 25-30 yard run and it is not like people are missing tackles, he is running through tackles. He is tough. Jeff has that swagger you want in a quarterback. He has had moments this year where he has just shined."
Three games into the nine-game season, the Colts are 2-1 in the Semi-Pro Football League. This is their first year in the two-year old league. They started the season 2-0 with wins against the Cleveland Warriors and Akron Silverbacks before penalties and turnovers in the fourth quarter cost them a game against the New York Sting last Saturday at Chartiers Valley, the Colts' home field.
Already without three linemen against New York, the Colts lost two more during the game due to injury.
"You have five linemen playing two ways," Brosky said. "We got worn down physically and made those mental mistakes and that is what swung the game."
The Colts next game is 6:30 p.m. Saturday at home against the Cleveland Warriors.
"I am extremely optimistic about our chances," Brosky said. "We have a nice core of players from Duquesne and Robert Morris. They have the potential and upside. We have so many talented players, it is a good situation.
"We are still trying to figure out what to do with them and how to make them productive for us."
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