By Matt Popchock
Dana Holgorsen made sure that in the future, the Backyard Brawl, assuming it is preserved after Pitt leaves the Big East for the ACC, will have a distinct Penn Hills flavor.
Senior quarterback Chaz Whittaker verbally committed to the Mountaineers earlier this week, according to multiple sources. Earlier this season, one of Whittaker’s favorite targets, receiver Corey Jones, committed to the Panthers.
Jones is one of the most athletic receivers in the WPIAL and regarded as one of the top receivers nationally, having grabbed 17 passes for 320 yards and six TD’s this season, and is a threat whenever he’s out in the open field. One day he may actually be matched up one-on-one against Whittaker, who was recruited by WVU as a defensive back after averaging 12.0 tackles per game as a junior in 2010.
Among the other schools who courted Whittaker, one of the top 100 safeties in the country according to MaxPreps, were Toledo, Temple, and Pitt. He’s a nice complement to highly-touted Archbishop Wood defensive back Nate Smith, who also, reportedly, has committed to West Virginia.
Whittaker was the 19th addition to WVU’s 2012 recruiting class, which currently consists of 20 members and has moved up to No. 22 in national ranking by MaxPreps.
What’s the significance? Whittaker is only the first in that class to come from the WPIAL.
Pitt, in contrast, has only 16 in its 2012 recruiting class thus far, but now boasts six WPIAL recruits, and one from the City League. Its national ranking by MaxPreps has been bumped up to No. 17 with the enormous addition of tailback Rushel Shell (Hopewell) to a group that already includes defensive lineman Tyrique Jarrett (Allderdice), safety Dakota Conwell (Upper St. Clair), offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty (Fox Chapel), defensive back Marzett Geter (Sto-Rox), receiver Trenton Coles (Clairton), and, of course, Jones.
The recruiting battle, however, is far from over between these two. Here’s a look at some undeclared WPIAL recruits who have received offers from both Pitt and West Virginia:
*OLB Deaysean Rippy (Sto-Rox); 6’2″, 200 lbs.; ranked No. 13 nationally at his position by MaxPreps
*TB Greg Garmon (Erie McDowell); 6’2″, 200 lbs.; ranked No. 5 nationally at his position and No. 82 overall by MaxPreps
*MLB T.J. Neal (McKeesport); 6’1″, 225 lbs.; ranked No. 15 nationally at his position by Scout.com, No. 90 nationally among all inside linebackers by MaxPreps
*MLB Jaylen Coleman (University Prep); 6’0″, 230 lbs.; ranked No. 18 nationally at his position by Scout.com
*WR Shakim Alonzo (Woodland Hills); 6’5″, 205 lbs.; ranked No. 107 nationally at his position by Scout.com
NOTES: Pittsburgh Central Catholic offensive lineman Logan Dietz has been offered by WVU, but not by Pitt. Chartiers Valley quarterback Wayne Capers (who is being recruited as a receiver) and Montour tailback Julian Durden have been offered by Pitt, but not by WVU; Capers seems like a better bet for the Panthers right now than Durden, who is likely to go to the MAC. Coleman is also ranked No. 25 nationally by MaxPreps as a “big back” (Shell ranks No. 1 nationally in that category). Although Alonzo didn’t crack either website’s top 100, he has good vertical ability that would serve any receiving corps well. He has caught 14 passes for 273 yards and five TD’s this season.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)