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Harlan: Hempfield lineman measuring up in WPIAL Class of '15

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Saturday, May 10, 2014, 9:45 p.m.
 

Who's the biggest recruit available in the WPIAL? That depends on how you measure them.

With a tape measure and a scale, it's now Hempfield's Tony Pilato. Baldwin lineman Sterling Jenkins committed last week to Penn State, leaving another 300-pound tackle with major college offers atop this 2015 class.

With Jenkins, who was ranked No. 34 nationally by Rivals, off the market, that makes Pilato the next big thing among WPIAL recruits. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound junior has a growing list of college options, most recently Minnesota.

“Playing at a Division I school is very exciting for me,” said Pilato, whose father Sam was a Pitt lineman. “It's a great opportunity.”

Pitt was the first school to offer Pilato in December, but others have followed. His list includes Akron, Maryland, Syracuse, Virginia and Old Dominion.

“As word got around, coaches started watching his (online) highlight tape,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said, “and the recruiting process for him really started to pick up.”

Much like Jenkins, recruiters like Pilato's unusual athleticism for someone with his size. Pilato plays AAU hoops in the spring and summer. His team, the Pittsburgh Nets, entered Jam Fest last month.

“It keeps my conditioning up and my weight good,” said Pilato, who slims to about 295 pounds for basketball season.

A 12.5-point per game scorer, he was a first-team all-section center for Hempfield last winter.

“He's a really good hooper and has great feet,” Bowen said. “I really believe basketball has helped his recruiting process. (College coaches) have watched him on the basketball court.

“He can move and do a lot of things a much smaller athlete can do.”

Pilato's attention will turn more to football in a few weeks. He plans to attend the Nike Training Camp on June 1 in Columbus, Ohio, the first of several workout dates this summer. Camps at Pitt, Penn State, Maryland and Virginia tentatively are on his list, along with visits to some other campuses as well.

“He's handling the recruiting process really well,” Bowen said. “His personality is starting to come out. He's really matured as a player and a person. We expect big things from him this year.”

Mostly an offensive player until now, Pilato will become a two-way tackle next season.

Pilato wants to make a college commitment before the end of summer, maybe around late July, so it won't distract him from his senior season.

Until then, he'll measure as the WPIAL's biggest recruit.

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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