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Harlan: Central Valley junior DB has recruiters' attention

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 7:21 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead eludes Thomas Jefferson's Christian Breisinger (10) during their WPIAL Class AAA semifinal Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Chartiers Valley High School.

For the second time in three years, the college football recruiting world has found Central Valley.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Pitt's Paul Chryst, plus coaches from Penn State and Tennessee, have visited the Beaver County high school in recent weeks.

They were there to recruit junior Jordan Whitehead, a defensive back with more than a dozen scholarship offers.

Of course, most already knew their way to Center Township.

Three years ago, wideout recruit Robert Foster, now an Alabama freshman, drew coaches to Central Valley. Now they're coming back.

“We've been fortunate, without question,” said Central Valley coach Mark Lyons.

With signing day approaching for seniors, recruiters have turned attention to Whitehead's junior class. As Round 2 begins at Central Valley, experience from Foster's recruitment will influence this second go-round with Whitehead.

“Without question, you live and learn,” Lyons said. “Jordan stays close with Robert. He watched Robert go through it. But Jordan is going to do what's comfortable with him. He won't do it exactly the same way.”

One adjustment Lyons made was to his team's offseason schedule. He shifted some voluntary workouts to May, a window when recruiters can come watch.

“That's when it really gets heavy,” Lyons said. “I've found that out in the last three years. That's one thing I've changed since the very first year when I realized Robert was going to be a pretty big recruit. I made sure we scheduled things as a team in May when it's a live period so they could see our guys running around in shorts.”

For now, they'll visit the school. Franklin sent his defensive staff within days of joining Penn State. Meyer visited last week.

“They always want to see what he does day to day,” Lyons said. “Once they've identify him as a possible recruit, they're pretty much done with the football questions. It's now about how is he in the classroom. If they run into a teacher or the principal, that's who they want to hear from. They want to know what kind of citizen he is in the school.”

Whitehead already has offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, among others.

But thinking back to Foster's recruitment, Lyons expects southern schools to enter Whitehead's options once winter ends. That upped the recruiting intensity on Foster.

“We knew what kind of recruit Robert was when he started getting some SEC schools,” Lyons said. “No disrespect to the schools (Whitehead) has right now, but for lack of better words, that's a different animal.”

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

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