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HSFB preview by position: Central Valley's Whitehead among nation's best defensive backs

Chris Harlan
| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 9:24 p.m.
Penn State coach James Franklin jumps into a photo with Central Catholic recruits Ron George (left) and Damar Hamlin before the Blue-White Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State coach James Franklin jumps into a photo with Central Catholic recruits Ron George (left) and Damar Hamlin before the Blue-White Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.

With very little debate, Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead can be called the best playmaker in the WPIAL.

The senior had 20 touchdowns last season, but it's how he scored them that makes him dangerous. A cornerback, tailback and kick returner, he reached the end zone five different ways.

He had 12 touchdown runs, four touchdown catches, two punt return touchdowns, a kickoff return for a touchdown and a 99-yard interception return for a score. Seven of his touchdowns covered more than 50 yards.

β€œHe could probably throw touchdowns, too, so he might take my job,” quarterback John George said with a laugh. β€œHe can do everything.”

Count Belle Vernon and Mars among those who won't doubt his ability.

Against Belle Vernon, Whitehead had the long interception return and a 77-yard punt return for another score. Against Mars, he scored on a 92-yard kickoff return and a 74-yard run.

He finished the year with 674 yards on 82 carries and had 317 receiving yards on 22 catches.

Chris Harlan is staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

1. Jordan Whitehead

Central Valley, sr., 5-11, 180

Arguably the best player in the WPIAL's 2015 class, Whitehead has scholarship offers from around the country, with Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State among them. He said he'll announce his college commitment in early October.

2. Dane Jackson

Quaker Valley, sr., 6-1, 170

Jackson, a defensive back and quarterback, scored six touchdowns of 45 yards or longer last year, including runs of 65, 73 and 98 yards. He also returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown. The 1,000-yard rusher threw 12 touchdown passes. Jackson verbally committed in June to play cornerback for Pitt.

3. Damar Hamlin

Central Catholic, jr., 6-1, 180

A sophomore starter in a Central Catholic lineup that was WPIAL Class AAAA champion and state runner-up last year, Hamlin holds scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State and Temple. He returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown in Week 3 last season against Canon-McMillan.

4. Lamont Wade

Clairton, so., 5-10, 170

Wade scored seven touchdowns last season, including an 83-yard interception return. He also had long touchdown runs of 80, 69 and 63 yards. His recruiting stats rose much this summer at camps. He already holds scholarship offers from Pitt, West Virginia and Temple.

5. Mike Nash

Woodland Hills, sr., 6-0, 170

A good cover corner and solid open-field tackler, Nash was a starter for a Woodland Hills team that reached the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game last season. Nash had a key interception in the quarterfinals when he grabbed a fourth-quarter Seneca Valley pass in the end zone.

One to watch: Duane Brown

Apollo-Ridge, so., 5-10, 160

Brown had five interceptions as a freshman and returned three for touchdowns covering 45, 49 and 57 yards. He also ran for three touchdowns, caught two and returned a kickoff 75 yards for another score.

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