In the age of the internet, recruiting may never end, but it at least has a beginning. Last weekend, 247 Sports was the first to release their top 100 for the class of 2014. Yes, players that have yet to play their junior seasons of high school have been ranked. Fifteen have already committed. Hooray.
Interestingly, there are no Pennsylvanians in this early top 100.That surprises me because next year is supposed to be an "up" year for the Keystone State, likely led by WPIAL safety Montae Nicholson. By comparison, there's six Ohio and three New Jersey prospects. That doesn't mean a whole lot, as the top 100 is pretty subjective - Dorian Johnson is a top 12 player according to 247, but barely makes the top 250 according to Rivals. For what it's worth, Virginia has seven players in the top 100 (and 3 in the top 12) according to the recruiting service.
More recruiting news - including a Dorian Johnson update - after the jump.
Dorian Johnson spoke to the PG's Mike White yesterday at Belle Vernon's camp and called Pitt and Ohio State his top two:
OK, let's get right to what a lot of people want to know: What's up with Dorian Johnson? He is Belle Vernon's 6-foot-6, 290-pound mountain, er, senior offensive lineman. He committed to Penn State earlier this summer, but when the NCAA sanctions hit Happy Valley, Johnson called coach Bill O'Brien and backed out of his commitment.
Johnson has many other scholarship offers to consider. Alabama, Notre Dame, Georgia, West Virginia and many others have offered. When I asked Johnson if Pitt was now his top choice, he said, "Pitt and Ohio State." But he added that he would be taking some visits in the future.
Johnson is certainly impressive physically. Upper body resembles something of a sophomore or junior in college.
So I suppose that means they're ahead of Virginia Tech, a team he first mentioned after decommitting from Penn State. He's featured in today's "Blue Chip Chat" post where he says as much in his own words. As a fan, I hate to hear that he plans on taking visits, even if Pitt does seem like his favorite. Another opportunity for Urban Meyer to impress him has to make any Pitt fan sweat. But keeping in mind what happened last time he made a quick decision, holding off a bit is probably the smartest thing for him to do, even if it is a detriment to Pitt.
In other WPIAL news, Elijah Zeise was in the spotlight this weekend when it was revealed that his father, longtime Pitt beat-writer Paul Zeise, would be stepping aside because of the appearance of a conflict of interest when the talented safety received an offer from the Panthers. Ken Gorman talked to Elijah this weekend:
Zeise opened eyes at prospect camps at Kent State, Maryland, Pitt and West Virginia this summer, showing his ability to be a shutdown defender in coverage. He’s hearing from those schools, plus Michigan, but Pitt was the first to offer a scholarship, doing so Tuesday.
"I was a little shocked," said Elijah, who has a 3.7 grade-point average. "It was kind of unexpected to happen as early as it did."
I'm a Paul Zeise fan. I know it's trendy to criticize the local beat-writer on the blogs, but I think Paul is one of the most knowledgeable folks around on Pitt football and his coverage will be sorely missed. But I'm a Pitt fan first and foremost, so if his son committing to Pitt effectively ends his tenure as Pitt's beat-writer, so be it, as sad as that makes me. I'll look forward to his Steelers coverage. Elijah Zeise looks like a high-end safety prospect, the type of player Pitt needs to keep home to return to relevancy. All things considered, I hope he ends up a Panther.
Speaking of safety prospects, WPIAL talent Ricky Rogers was denied an opportunity to play this season for Gateway by the WPIAL:
Ricky Rogers, a top Class of 2014 prospect, was ruled ineligible to play football at Gateway for the upcoming season, the WPIAL Board of Control announced Friday.
Rogers was one of five athletes who appealed for eligibility Thursday.
Rogers, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior, was a starting receiver his freshman and sophomore years at Keystone Oaks. He was home-schooled last year while living in the Keystone Oaks School District and will continue to be home-schooled in the Gateway School District after his family bought a house in Monroeville.
Rogers caught 30 passes for 504 yards and four touchdowns last season. Rutgers and West Virginia have offered football
His mother, Cheryl Sandora, said the family moved to Gateway because of "emotional bullying" Rogers experienced at Keystone Oaks. The family also moved to be closer to Monroeville, where Rogers’ dance teacher lives. Rogers has been dancing since age 3 and plans to major in dance in college.
Rogers has an offer from Rutgers right now, but I'd bet he ends up with an offer from Pitt too, although I'm not sure it will be commitable until either Montae Nicholson and Elijah Zeise are off the board.
Of course, that's likely contingent on him being eligible to play this season. The family will almost assuredly appeal the ruling to the PIAA, which will overrule the WPIAL in order to avoid a lawsuit. I just don't get the WPIAL's ruling here: this isn't a circumstance where a kid moves in with a distant aunt who just so happens to live in a powerhouse district. His family moved to Monroeville. Maybe his whole family moved for football, but good luck proving that. When I was in high school, if my family moved to Monroeville, Gateway basketball would have been stuck with me on their bench. I fail to see the distinction because he's a good athlete versus every other kid whose family moves.
Finally, Ken Gorman did a profile on North Allegheny quarterback Mack Leftwich. Leftwich isn't a BCS-level recruit, but he's worth at least noting here because of who his father is - former Pitt offensive line coach Spenser Leftwich, now at Arizona. He's unlikely to get a Pitt offer, but best of luck to him and his father, who coaches a team that I hope annihilates Arizona State this year.