HSFB preview by position: Division I O-line recruits have something to prove
Baldwin's Sterling Jenkins and Hempfield's Tony Pilato are both highly rated offensive linemen according to the national recruiting websites. The seniors are coveted for their rare size and athleticism.
Jenkins held more than a dozen scholarship offers, including one from Georgia, when he verbally committed to Penn State. He'd starred at several summers camps and was invited to Rivals' exclusive Five-Star Challenge.
Pilato wasn't quite as coveted, but was approaching a dozen offers when he committed to Pitt. Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia were among them.
As college recruits, their status is solid. But on the field, both gigantic tackles still have something to prove.
A year ago, despite their status, each was voted as only an all-conference honorable mention pick in Class AAAA, passed over for the first and second teams. Limited by injury, Canon-McMillan's Alex Paulina was left off the all-conference teams completely.
They all might eventually find success on Saturdays, but each has one last chance to master Friday nights.
1. Sterling Jenkins
Baldwin, sr., 6-8, 305
Jenkins, who has NFL size, chose Penn State over scholarship offers from all around the country. He verbally committed in May. Rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Jenkins was ranked as the eighth-best offensive tackle in the country and the No. 69 prospect overall.
2. Tony Pilato
Hempfield, sr., 6-7, 290
A Pitt recruit, the offensive tackle verbally committed to the Panthers in July. Pilato's basketball background shows in his feet, which are more agile than those of many linemen his size. He helped the Spartans rush for more than 2,000 yards last season. Rivals ranked him as a three-star recruit.
3. Alex Paulina
Canon-McMillan, sr., 6-4, 280
A two-way tackle who also plays lacrosse, Paulina committed to Pitt in January. He was named a Class AAAA first-team, all-conference lineman his freshman season.
A strong blocker, injuries have been his toughest obstacle. Rivals ranked him as a three-star recruit.
4. Ryan Podgorski
South Park, sr., 6-5, 265
A left guard who finishes blocks, Podgorski holds scholarship offers from Akron and Bowling Green. He switched last season from tackle to guard, allowing him to showcase his ability to pull.
A two-star Rivals recruit, Podgorski was named first-team all-conference in the Class AA Century.
5. Eric McAllister
Central Catholic, sr., 6-1, 265
An experienced center who has started since his sophomore season, McAllister anchors a line that was the state's runner-up last year, earning him first-team all-conference honors. He holds a number of Division 1 FCS offers, including James Madison, Delaware and New Hampshire.
One to watch: Brandon Ford
Upper St. Clair, jr., 6-5, 285
One of five new starters on Upper St. Clair's offensive line, the tackle already holds scholarship offers from Bowling Green and Toledo. His size has others interested, including Pitt, Penn State and Michigan State.