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BVA's Johnson commits to Panthers

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Jim Ference | Tribune-Review file
Belle Vernon offensive tackle Dorian Johnson (left) verbally committed to Penn State last month but did not comment following the announcement of the NCAA's sanctions.
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Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 1:11 a.m.

After graduating, football players at Belle Vernon Area are forever Leopards. But beginning next year, Dorian Johnson is going to be a Panther.

Leopards coach Aaron Krepps confirmed Sunday that standout offensive lineman Dorian Johnson has committed to play football at the University of Pittsburgh.

Johnson chose the Panthers over Ohio State and Virginia Tech. He had offers from 19 schools prior to his previous commitment to Penn State. Johnson reopened his recruiting in August after the NCAA announced sanctions against the Nittany Lions program stemming from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound tackle said in August that he decided not to join the Nittany Lions because of the bowl game ban and scholarship losses.

“I really think it had to do with his comfort level,” Krepps said of Johnson's commitment. “He fits well into the school and with what they want to do. He obviously feels like it is the best place for him.

“Pitt's been in the running since he started his recruiting. I'm not shocked by the decision.”

Johnson was one of three top recruits visiting the Panthers this weekend. He was joined by Central Valley's Robert Foster and Clairton's Tyler Boyd. Many have called this past weekend one of coach Paul Chryst's biggest since he became Pitt's coach.

It may have helped that his offensive coordinator, Joe Rudolph, was a former standout lineman at Belle Vernon Area.

“He really did it the right way,” Krepps said. “He wanted to wait until the end of the season. He made this season and his teammates his priority.”

Recruiting became Johnson's top priority following the Leopard's 17-16 loss to Central Valley in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs Nov. 2.

According to, Johnson is the 23rd-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the Calss of 2013. He is ranked as the No.2 offensive line prospect by ESPN.

“There are a bunch of good things about Dorian,” Krepps said. “He has such a big frame and he has a lot of room to add a lot more muscle to it. He's only going to get bigger and stronger. He has a big punch, great footwork, and he's very strong ... there's a lot of potential there. He's very determined and he's going to work hard.”

“I'm thrilled with his decision and I'm very happy for him,” Krepps added.

Johnson, who was scheduled to visit Ohio State on Dec. 7, was unavailable for comment Sunday. He was still on his visit with the Panthers. He is the 19th member of Pitt's 2013 recruiting class and the third offensive lineman.

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