HS football position by position breakdown: Scouting the defensive line
Thomas Jefferson's defense contains two dominant linemen — a tackle and an end both headed to Pitt — and it certainly showed last season.
The Jaguars outscored opponents 592-89, which equals an average score of 46-7. Seven of their 12 wins were shutouts, including a dominant 42-0 victory over New Castle in the WPIAL Class 4A final at Heinz Field.
The team's defensive success started with a line that includes tackle Devin Danielson and end Noah Palmer, who now are seniors. Combined, the two had nine sacks and more than 80 tackles as juniors.
Danielson was among the most disruptive linemen in the WPIAL last season, but it was Palmer who delivered the signature play at Heinz Field.
With less than a minute until halftime, Palmer intercepted a New Castle screen pass and took it 20 yards for a touchdown. The return gave Thomas Jefferson a strong 14-0 lead.
Both earned all-conference honors last season.
Palmer committed to Pitt in May, and Danielson picked the Panthers in June.
The list of returning WPIAL defensive linemen already committed to Division I colleges includes Bethel Park's James Gmiter (West Virginia), Penn-Trafford's Logan Hawkins (Akron), Mt. Lebanon's Coleman Coco (Colgate) and Altoona's Jayvion Queen (Colgate).
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
1. Devin Danielson
Senior, 6-3, 295
Danielson was a big reason why the Jaguars won the WPIAL Class 4A title last season. The Pitt recruit had 41 tackles, six sacks, two fumble recoveries, and earned first-team all-conference honors for both defense and offense. The Rivals three-star recruit also had scholarship offers from WVU, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan State, UCLA and others.
2. James Gmiter
Senior, 6-4, 305
The West Virginia recruit is a two-way starter at tackle and earned first-team all-conference honors for defense in Class 6A. Rivals ranked him as a three-star recruit and the second-best defensive tackle in the state, one spot behind Danielson. Gmiter, who committed in January to the Mountaineers, also had a Wisconsin offer.
3. David Green
Senior, 6-2, 265
Green had 37 tackles, three sacks and was chosen as a second-team all-conference defensive lineman in Class 6A last year. The uncommitted three-star Rivals recruit lists scholarship offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Iowa State, Syracuse, Minnesota, Virginia Tech, Temple, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and others.
4. Logan Hawkins
Senior, 6-2, 275
The Akron commit had nine sacks last season as Penn-Trafford's nose tackle. He also plays left tackle on offense, but earned first-team all-conference honors in Class 5A as a defensive lineman. The three-year starter also held college offers from Army, Ball State, Citadel, Eastern Michigan and Navy.
5. Noah Palmer
Senior, 6-4, 225
The Pitt recruit had 43 tackles and three sacks last season and also forced two fumbles and recovered two. He earned first-team all-conference in Class 4A as a defensive end. Along with his interception return for a touchdown, Palmer also caught a 2-yard TD. His first offers were from Army, Buffalo and Miami, Ohio.
One to watch: Marko Olivarez
Senior, 6-4, 275
A knee injury cost Olivarez much of his junior season, but he has the size and strength to cause offenses trouble. His strength showed this spring during track season. Olivarez finished second in the shot put at the WPIAL Class AA championship.