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Gorman: Jurkovec can focus on football

Kevin Gorman
| Friday, May 20, 2016, 10:49 p.m.
Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec passed for more than 2,500 yards and rushed for 1,250 as a sophomore last season. One of the top prospects in the Class of 2018, Jurkovec committed to Notre Dame earlier this week. “The amount I was recruited was probably about a 2 on a scale of 1-10, and Phil was probably an 11,” Rams coach Eric Kasperowicz said.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pine-Richland quarterback Phil Jurkovec passed for more than 2,500 yards and rushed for 1,250 as a sophomore last season. One of the top prospects in the Class of 2018, Jurkovec committed to Notre Dame earlier this week. “The amount I was recruited was probably about a 2 on a scale of 1-10, and Phil was probably an 11,” Rams coach Eric Kasperowicz said.

Now that Phil Jurkovec has made his college choice, committing to Notre Dame on Monday, the Pine-Richland quarterback can focus on the finer points of his position.

Pine-Richland coach Eric Kasperowicz said Friday on my TribLIVE Radio show that he wants to work on Jurkovec's mechanics, primarily the windup in his throwing motion.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Jurkovec passed for more than 2,500 yards and rushed for 1,250 as a sophomore, which makes you wonder what areas he needs to address.

“We want to shorten his release a little bit,” Kasperowicz said. “We want to improve his footwork in the pocket a little bit. Then, ultimately, there's the overall quarterback package, being a leader and all of the stuff that goes along with being a big-time, quality quarterback.”

Look for Kasperowicz to add new wrinkles to Pine-Richland's spread offense after spending the spring visiting the creative coaching minds at Baylor, Houston and Texas A&M.

“We don't know it all,” he said. “Football is a very fluid game. We do some good things, but there's always someone out there doing it better. We're trying to keep up with the latest trends.”

The one trend Kasperowicz was having trouble keeping up with was being the go-between for Jurkovec and recruiters.

A Parade All-American quarterback at North Hills, Kasperowicz knows the recruiting blitz but said it was no comparison to what Jurkovec was experiencing.

“The amount I was recruited was probably about a 2 on a scale of 1-10, and Phil was probably an 11,” Kasperowicz said. “Where we were probably equally sought out, it was tenfold only because, in this day and age, the technology. I would get letters and a phone call once a week. Even then, it wasn't that bad. Now for Phil, as a sophomore, letters aren't even a thing anymore. It's all social media. It's Twitter and texting and phone calls.”

As middle man, Kasperowicz estimates he was contacted 10 times a day over the past six months and visited by the majority of the nation's top 25 teams.

“It became a little overhwleming, but he handled it great,” he said. “If it had gone on another two years, it would've been tough because it takes away from him just being a kid, keeping up with his studies and hanging out with his buddies, let alone training and doing football.

“He wants to focus on his playing career and keep improving in areas where he needs improvement. I thought it was a wise, very mature decision for somebody at such a young age.”

• I keep hearing that Pine-Richland is at the top of a short list of potential schools for Thomas Burns, brother of Steelers' first-round pick Artie Burns Jr. The younger Burns, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound sophomore cornerback at Miami Northwestern, already is committed to Miami.

• Aliquippa senior Kaezon Pugh has won a WPIAL gold medal in three sports. The Pitt recruit starred at tailback for the Quips as they won the WPIAL Class AA football championship, was a starting forward on their undefeated WPIAL and PIAA Class AA basketball champions and ran the second leg on the 400-meter relay team that won the WPIAL Class AA title in 43.11 seconds.

• Speaking of getting more gold, Clairton junior Lamont Wade added a WPIAL Class AA long jump title (22 feet, 5 inches) to his gold medal in WPIAL Class A football. The cornerback is ranked the nation's No. 8 prospect by Rivals.com, but that didn't stop him from playing football, basketball, baseball and track and field, where he also finished second in the 100 (11.13).

MLB.com's latest projection has Plum senior center fielder Alex Kirilloff, who has led the Mustangs to the WPIAL Class AAAA semifinals, going to the Los Angeles Angels as the No. 16 pick in the June 9 MLB Draft.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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