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Gorman: Will Aliquippa's Pitt pipeline end with Henry?

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Aliquippa's Dravon Henry catches a pass in front of South Fayette's Roman Denson during the fourth quarter of the WPIAL Class AA championship game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, at Heinz Field.

Dravon Henry made his college choice, then flew to Florida to escape any chance of someone convincing him to change his mind.

Where some speculated that it was for a last-minute official visit to Miami — one of his five finalists, along with Louisville, Maryland, Pitt and West Virginia — Henry's father, Roland, assured me that it wasn't.

“If Miami would have followed through like they should have,” Roland Henry said, “he would be going to Miami, no doubt.”

Instead, the recruitment of the Aliquippa four-star defensive back, regarded as the top prospect in the state by ESPN.com, is believed to be a Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia.

Which, given his school's history, should favor the Panthers.

Aliquippa has a proud pipeline of sending players to Pitt, from Mike Ditka to Sean Gilbert to Darrelle Revis to Jon Baldwin.

That all four were NFL first-round selections only reinforces the perpetuation of how prominent that pipeline really is.

Yet Roland Henry made it clear that his son, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback/safety, will go to the school best fit for him and that none of his Quips' predecessors who played at Pitt influenced Dravon's decision.

“Darrelle hasn't steered him toward one school,” Roland Henry said of Revis, whose stepfather is a relative of Henry's. “He's looking at what is the best situation for him in terms of style, scheme and coaching.”

Roland Henry debunked another popular theory: That Dravon's friendship with Rushel Shell, who left Pitt for West Virginia, poisoned the well. Instead, the freshman success of Tyler Boyd probably cancels out Shell.

“When (Shell) speaks of Pitt, he takes full responsibility for what he did,” Henry said. “He had nothing bad to say about Pitt. ‘Dra' looks at Tyler the same way as Rushel, that they've been through it so you can ask them.”

Where West Virginia ace recruiter and secondary coach Tony Gibson has been all over Henry from the start, Pitt was only the sixth school to offer Henry a scholarship.

ESPN recruiting analyst Jared Shanker believes the Mountaineers are the favorite for Henry.

Henry already is breaking from one school tradition by holding a news conference Monday at the Aliquippa Municipal Building.

“He made it clear he's not afraid to break that trend of Aliquippa players going to Pittsburgh,” Shanker said Friday on TribLIVE Radio. “He understands that there is pressure to go there, but I don't think that weighs on him as much it has in the past with other players. He's OK with going his own route.”

Even if it's Interstate 79 South.

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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