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Gorman: DeFloria on fast track, but must choose a sport

| Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 10:54 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Cody Henry chases down Hempfield's Joey DeFloria during a game on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at Latrobe.

Joey DeFloria has a dilemma that most high school athletes would envy.

“When it's football season, football is my favorite,” DeFloria said. “When it's baseball season, baseball is my favorite.”

When it comes to choosing a sport to play in college, DeFloria describes himself as “torn between the two right now.”

The Hempfield two-sport star is better known for baseball, but after his performances against McKeesport and Latrobe, DeFloria might start attracting more attention in football.

Hempfield coach Rich Bowen sees DeFloria as an FBS or FCS prospect. Bowen is hoping that schools scouting Hempfield 6-foot-7, 315-pound junior tackle Tony Pilato will notice DeFloria on game film.

“I think he's a sleeper in football because a lot of people don't know about him because he's been hurt,” Bowen said. “He's lost some seasons to injuries.”

Despite being a three-year letterman, DeFloria missed five games to a high-ankle sprain as a sophomore and five to a broken humerus in his left arm last year.

If not for those injuries, Bowen believes DeFloria would be a household name in WPIAL football. Instead, he's making up for lost time.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound tailback started strong in Week 1 against McKeesport, returning a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown and rushing for 117 yards on 14 carries — despite two long touchdown runs negated by penalties.

It's not his statistics, however, that sets DeFloria apart.

It's his speed.

He was timed at 4.46 seconds at a Youngstown State summer camp and clocked a 6.35 60-yard dash at a Colorado Rockies' tryout camp two years ago.

That's why Bowen envisions DeFloria as a multipurpose player who could play tailback, slot receiver and return kicks and punts in college.

“His speed is outstanding. Anytime he's been timed in the 40, he's run in the mid-4.4s. You don't see too many kids who run legit 4.4s,” Bowen said. “He runs hard between the tackles and can run away from you. He's an excellent receiver, catching the ball out of the backfield. And he returns kicks.

“He can score any way. He could do whatever you need. He's just an all-around good athlete.”

One who is hearing from Kent State, Temple and Youngstown State for football and Coastal Carolina, Eastern Carolina, Kent State and Penn State as an outfielder in baseball.

That could lead to a difficult decision when he has to choose.

“Right now, I'm getting more looks for baseball,” DeFloria said. “It's possible (to play both), but I think I'll focus on one.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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