Harlan: McKeesport a key stop for recruiters
Among college football coaches, McKeesport is a well-established stop on Western Pennsylvania's recruiting trail.
In the past two years alone, the Tigers sent safety Khaleke Hudson to Michigan and lineman Curtis Harper to Syracuse. Starting this Saturday, Tigers coach Matt Miller's schedule will be a little busier for the next seven weeks as recruiters learn more about junior Alexander Meadows.
The spring evaluation period for football starts this weekend and runs through May 31 on the NCAA calendar. During this time, college coaches can visit high schools and talk with coaches and administrators.
"We're very blessed," Miller said, "that we're on the short list of places that people stop."
At the moment, McKeesport has four juniors with D1 football offers. The most coveted could be Meadows, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound lineman who lists scholarship offers from Pitt, Army and Toledo. Meadows wasn't a starter last season on a veteran-heavy line, but rotated in at guard and defensive tackle for the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up.
He's the fifth WPIAL lineman in the 2018 class with an offer from Pitt. Butler's Jake Kradel, Belle Vernon's Blake Zubovic, Central Catholic's David Green and Thomas Jefferson's Devin Danielson also have the Panthers as an option.
Meadows announced his offer March 20.
"Once a school like Pitt offers him, it brings more people to the door," Miller said. "That also opens it up for other guys who maybe aren't on the radar yet."
That was Meadows' experience as a sophomore, Miller said. As schools recruited Hudson, Harper and others, they also noticed Meadows. Once recruiters saw him, they were usually intrigued.
"He's got great size," Miller said. "He's pushing 6-foot-5 and he's probably going to play around 275 or 280 pounds for us this year. But what sets him apart is his athleticism. He's got unbelievable feet, very quick, explosive. … After people see him move, most people are pretty impressed."
Meadows has wrestled two seasons for McKeesport in the heavyweight division.
"I knew it was just a matter of time," Miller said. "He really started coming into his own (as a junior), played a lot more for us and gave us a lot more minutes. He also grew into his size, too. He was a little uncoordinated early on. I knew he was eventually going to get some offers from big schools. I think you're going to see more offers in the near future."
Meadows isn't the only Division 1 recruit on McKeesport's roster.
Army, Navy, Columbia and Dartmouth have offered running back Carlinos Acie (5-9, 170). Safety/wide receiver Johnny Harper (6-1, 165) has offers from Kent State and Albany. Layton Jordan (6-3, 195), a safety or linebacker, lists scholarships from Bowling Green, Toledo, Howard and Robert Morris.
"We've had numerous Division I, FCS and Division II schools coming through our building during the recruiting season," Miller said. "You're able to develop relationships with those coaches. It's definitely a benefit."
Basketball signing day
Navy basketball coach Ed DeChellis extended an offer Tuesday to Pine-Richland's Andrew Petcash, the top unsigned senior in the WPIAL. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 21 points for the Rams, who won the WPIAL Class 6A title and finished as the state runner-up.
Petcash is hopeful the exposure from the team's extended playoff run will be beneficial. Marist, which has encouraged him to visit the Poughkeepsie, N.Y. campus, could offer him a scholarship next. He also will work out soon at Drexel and maybe Duquesne. He plans to reconnect with St. Francis (Pa.), a school that had recruited him.
"It's not like I'm completely rushing it, but the last signing day is coming up fairly quickly," Petcash said. "I'm going to play it out, but not wait too long."
The regular signing period for Division I basketball started Wednesday and extends through May 17. The early-signing period was Nov. 9-16. Petcash had verbally committed to Army last fall but reconsidered.
Assumption and Cal (Pa.) have offered him Division II scholarships, he said, and prep school remains an option if he doesn't find a college that fits.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.