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Harlan on recruiting: Devonshire another Aliquippa DB drawing offers

Chris Harlan
| Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, 5:46 p.m.

Who's the best defensive back in Aliquippa history?

That's not an easy question, but there are plenty of good answers. Quips junior Marlin “MJ” Devonshire Jr. paused and picked Ty Law, the three-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler.

“There were a lot of guys who were really doing it in Aliquippa,” said Devonshire, a rising star for the current Quips. “It's kind of special to be a DB here.”

That's a fact college recruiters know well.

Devonshire, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback, is next in line to join the school's steady stream of Division I defensive backs. That list already includes Law (Michigan), Darrelle Revis (Pitt), Charles Fisher (WVU), Dan “Peep” Short (Pitt), Dravon Henry-Askew (WVU) and others. Four-star senior safety Kwantel Raines, who'll announce his commitment Oct. 30, also will join that list.

“When I go places I'll wear my Aliquippa shirts or jackets,” Devonshire said, “and a lot of people will say: ‘Aliquippa!' And they tell me stories about times they came here or people they know from here.”

Devonshire already lists Division I FBS offers from West Virginia, Syracuse and Oregon State.

His first was from the Mountaineers in January, and the Orange offered the very next day. He's optimistic he'll add Pitt and Penn State, schools he's visited with Raines.

“You're going to see more offers materialize for him when (the recruiters) come in after Thanksgiving,” said Joe Butler, Metro Index Scouting director. “They're going to look at his film. He's got a lot of talent, and he comes from a great program. The kids are well-coached out there. They're collegiately ready.”

Aliquippa (8-0) is the state's top-ranked team in Class 3A. As a key member of the Quips' stingy defense, Devonshire made a game-clinching interception in Friday's 22-7 victory over Quaker Valley in the final minutes.

The play showcased his athleticism and also his intellect. It was a route he'd recognized from earlier that night, when a Quakers receiver came all the way across the field. “It was open (on the first attempt), so I knew they'd come back to it,” said Devonshire, whose father is an Aliquippa assistant coach. “All the time in practice my dad does that to me. He'll throw nothing my way and then bring something from the far side of the field. So when I'd seen them line up in that formation again, I knew it was coming.”

He also starred earlier on offense with a 42-yard touchdown catch that gave the Quips room to relax.

College coaches like his body type, especially his long arms.

“He's a high-level ball-skill guy with a big reach and big hands,” Butler said. “He snaps the ball out of the air. He's athletic, has good hips and runs well. He's a good tackler in space. I call him an inverted corner, because he could play either corner or safety.”

Devonshire has watched Raines' recruitment closely, and said he's learned from that experience.

“We're going through the same things, but he knows a lot more because he's been doing it for a year now,” he said. “I know the steps to take. What to do and what not to do.”

Devonshire was amazed by the whole process when Raines' recruitment first took off, he said, watching as college coaches visited the school almost daily.

“He can go really anywhere in the country if he wants,” Devonshire said. “It makes me want to work harder to have those options.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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