Even Varsity Blog needs some vacation time. That's why we haven't written much lately. We'll start publishing on a regular basis as we get closer to the start of preseason football practices. But for now, here are some things to ponder.
Texas Tech recruiting WPIAL
This is a little odd: Texas Tech is involved with two WPIAL football players.
I've been covering recruiting in the WPIAL for more than two decades and I don't ever remember a WPIAL player considering Texas Tech. But Clairton's Desimon Green and McKeesport's Branden Jackson are seriously considering Texas Tech. Both plan to make an official visit to the school.
According to Green, Texas Tech assistant coach Robert Puntry got in contact with him just by seeing his name on the internet as a top player in Western Pa. Green, who is being recruited as a defensive end, showed an interest back in Texas Tech, so Puntry came to Clairton this spring for a visit. Green and Jackson are close friends, so Puntry also became interested in Jackson, who is being recruited as a defensive end.
"They asked to see tape on me and it went from there," Jackson said.
Both Green and Jackson have been offered scholarships by Texas Tech and Green said he plans to make an official visit to Texas Tech Labor Day weekend. Jackson also might visit.
"I'll probably make my decision when I come back from there," Green said.
Green, who also plays quarterback for Clairton, is 6 feet 5, 223 pounds. His top schools are Pitt, Texas Tech, Michigan, Cincinnati and Michigan State. He said the decision will most likely come down to Pitt, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. I have a hard time believing in the end that he would choose a Texas school. Pitt is the frontrunner.
Jackson is 6-5, 220 pounds and said he has not begun to narrow his list of schools. Pitt, Michigan, Michigan State, Texas Tech, North Carolina and Syracuse are some of the schools that have offered scholarships.
Another McKeesport player who is being fairly heavily recruited is 6-5, 255-pound defensive lineman Delvon Simmons. He is being recruited mostly as a defensive tackle. Pitt had offered him a scholarship, but took it back when the Panthers got a commitment from another defensive lineman. West Virginia, Illinois, North Carolina, Iowa and Rutgers are a few of the schools that have offered Simmons.
Dondi Kirby update
Gateway defensive back Dondi Kirby will not play his senior season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during 7 on 7 drills at the University of Michigan camp two weeks ago. "I'm sad I'm going to miss my senior year, but I still have a whole bunch of football left in me," Kirby said.
Kirby said his injury will not affect his recruiting. He is the most heavily-recruited player in the WPIAL class of 2011. It looks like his top five schools are USC, Florida, Maryland, Iowa and Illinois. He plans to visit all five. He said he still might consider Louisville and North Carolina. He said he has eliminated Pitt.
Kirby on QB
Kirby was going to play some at quarterback this season. Now it's looking like the job will go to sophomore Tom Woodson. Kirby said Woodson is a cousin of former Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones (now at Penn State), and Kirby had an interesting comment on Woodson. "He throws the ball 70 yards in the air," Kirby said. "If he's not the No. 1 quarterback in the country by the time he's a senior, he'll be in the top five. He has a great arm and he's elusive."
West Allegheny's Mike Caputo, the Post-Gazette Player of the Year in 2009 pictured to the left, has narrowed his list of colleges to Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Caputo said he has a good idea of what school he will choose. "I've seen all I needed to see," he said. Pitt, Ohio State and Wisconsin are recruiting him as an outside linebacker or strong safety. "Penn State says they're going to see how I develop the next couple years before they decide where to play me," Caputo said.
An interesting sidenote on Caputo: He spent part of this summer coaching basketball in the Special Olympics.
Duquesne offers Dallier
Onto some basketball recruiting news. Duquesne has offered a scholarship to North Allegheny's Anthony Dallier, who will be a junior this fall.
You might not know too much about Dallier, but I really have grown to like him after seeing him last season and also in some spring games. He's about 6 feet 5 now and probably is not done growing. He's long and versatile. He can handle the ball, but also shoot the 3-pointer fairly well. North Allegheny uses the dribble-drive offense and it has been good for Dallier.
I called him the WPIAL's version of Gordon Hayward, the former Butler star. Now please. I'm not saying Dallier is as good, or will ever be as good as Hayward. But at least on the WPIAL level, his game reminds you of Hayward. Is Dallier good enough to help Duquesne someday? I'm not sure of that yet, but he very well could be. Keep in mind that he has two more seasons left at North Allegheny.
Other notes and thoughts
* The Robert Morris basketball team has offered a scholarship to Greensburg Central Catholic Jesse Reed, a 6-4 point guard who will be a senior. Andrew Toole offered Reed after seeing him play at a tournament this summer.
* Speaking of Greensburg Central Catholic, the Centurions might be my pick to win WPIAL Class AA basketball this season. I saw them play this weekend at the North Allegheny Shootout and they are awfully big for a Class AA team, have shooters and a potential Division I player at point guard in Reed. With South Fayette moving up to Class AAA, North Catholic down to Class A, GCC has to be one of the preseason favorites.
Greensburg Central has to be the biggest team in Class AA this season. One of the Centurions' top inside players will be Josh Stepoli, who will be a junior. He's 6 feet 5 and about 240 pounds. He and his brother, Terrence, transferred from Monessen and will be eligible at GCC in January. Also, there is no doubt Josh Stepoli is a future Division I football player. He could be a pretty good one. I could see him being 6-6, 270 or 280 someday and he already is pretty strong. Looks like a good college defensive linemen in the future.
* I say Mt. Lebanon's Paul Lang is one of the underrated football prospects in the WPIAL class of 2011. A tight end-defensive end, he made a verbal commitment to Michigan State in June. I know Michigan State is big-time football, but his only other scholarship offer was from Toledo. I think some schools might have missed the boat on him.
Now I didn't see him play football last season, but I've seen him play basketball, and I saw him play basketball again this past weekend. Sometimes, I think you can tell how good of an athlete a football player is by seeing him on the basketball court. Lang is 6 feet 5, 235 pounds. He has the build to put on more muscle and strength. But he jumps very well (dunks with two hands easily), has good athletic instincts and moves well. I don't know his 40 time, but I do know this. He has athletic ability that could make him a very good college player. We'll see.
* Matt Emge was Blackhawk's quarterback last season, but will not play football as a senior because he wants to concentrate on baseball. Could that mean Blackhawk's starting QB job could go to Chandler Kincade, a freshman? I've heard the kid is a good one, and also an excellent basketball player. I haven't seen him play either sport, but did see him a few weeks ago in person when Blackhawk played at the Pitt basketball team camp. He certainly passes the eyeball test. He's 6 feet 4 and built pretty well. He's certainly one to watch.