By Matt Popchock


Former Aliquippa football star Darrelle Revis set the stage for a fine NFL career with exemplary play at “The Pit” and, yes, at the “Pitt.” At the first annual Darrelle Revis Skills and Drills Clinic, those young men preparing for the prep or college football experience got to gain experience and knowledge from Revis and other gridiron greats.

“I come from a winning program…so I wanted to instill winning in these kids,” Revis said. “Teaching them to have that self-confidence when they approach an obstacle or [bad] situation is what I want them to learn.”

In the football program at Aliquippa, winning is indeed taught at a young age. It hasn’t completely cured the economic strife present for many years in that area, but it has cured a lot of ills, as Revis can attest.

“Everyone in town was and is at those games, and it meant everything to everyone,” remembers Diana Askew, Darrelle’s mother. “You would see all the families out on the road together, going to games. That unity in everything we did during the season was tremendous.”

Check out this video, courtesy of our friends at Rubino Productions, for our special interview with Revis:


Some speculated highly-touted prospect Dorian Johnson might follow in Revis’ footsteps, but instead the Belle Vernon offensive tackle committed to Penn State Sunday.

Johnson (6’6, 285 lbs.), approaching his senior season, was courted and offered by approximately 20 D-1 programs, according to, from Alabama to Rutgers. Even Pitt alumnus Sal Sunseri, father of projected Pitt starting QB Tino Sunseri, recruited him, on behalf of Tennessee. That website ranks Johnson as the No. 7 Class of ’13 player in the state and the No. 23 offensive lineman nationally.

This unofficially gives the Lions 12 commits in that class on a weekend in which, for obvious reasons, the program could use some good news. But even though this story broke less than 48 hours after the Sandusky verdict was rendered, it is not necessarily surprising Penn State remains attractive to such talent.

In some respects, Pitt, through no fault of its own, will never be Penn State. It’s simple cultural relativism. Even in success, Pitt is competing with equally successful pro sports teams, and other entities that stretch the entertainment dollar of the citizenry. Selling out Heinz Field on any given Saturday is not an unrealistic goal, but that image will never be confused with the sight of 100,000 maniacs bouncing up and down in their white “We Are” t-shirts. One thing that will never change is the fact that college football will remain the livelihood of State College. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but the game day atmosphere over there would tickle the fancy of just about anyone who is serious about the sport.

Furthermore, one thing that did change is the school’s leadership. Some have distanced themselves, arguably, for the right reasons, but others will be willing to give new-look Penn State a second chance. So although Bill O’Brien has maintained Penn State’s recruiting base in a way that might surprise us, all things considered, it’s not all that shocking.

In any event, the day was not a complete loss for Pitt. Clairton defensive back Titus Howard pledged his allegiance to the Panthers Sunday. It won’t be the biggest Class of ’13 name Paul Chryst pursues, but Howard could make ideal bait for star running back Tyler Boyd, who remains undecided.

Boyd, who may be recruited as a DB, excelled at multiple positions as a junior, running for 2,400 yards and leading the WPIAL in scoring with 324 total points, including 48 touchdowns in all. He enters this season ranked as the No. 4 wingback in the nation by MaxPreps (Central Valley’s Robert Foster is No. 1).

That is not to say Howard can’t contribute; with both he and Boyd on defense, the Bears allowed under five points per game and posted nine shutouts in 2011.

The latter presently holds offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, and Arizona–which has picked up several WPIAL kids this year–just to name a few.

Clairton, whose 47-game winning streak is the longest in America, will begin its quest for a record fourth straight PIAA title in a Class A Black Hills Conference game at Chartiers-Houston Aug. 31, while Johnson and Belle Vernon open Class AAA play at Uniontown that night.

(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)

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