2021 HSSN football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the linebackers

Tuesday, August 24, 2021 | 1:28 PM

TribLive HSSN will break down the top players at one position per day until Week Zero. Here’s a look at the top linebackers for the 2021 season.

1. Anthony Speca

Central Catholic

Sophomore, 6-3, 220

As a freshman, Speca was a starting linebacker and leading tackler in the middle of a WPIAL Class 6A championship-winning defense. He earned Freshman All-American honors from MaxPreps. Now only a sophomore, he already has college offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Buffalo, Notre Dame and Purdue.

Watch Anthony Speca highlights

2. Jeremiah Hasley


Senior, 6-3, 225

The Duke recruit made 60 tackles last season, including 11½ for a loss, as the Rams won WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A titles. He committed to the Blue Devils over FBS offers Air Force, Army, Navy and Kent State, along with a number of FCS options from the Ivy and Patriot leagues.

Watch Jeremiah Hasley highlights

3. Matt Merritt

Central Valley

Senior, 6-3, 220

With Merritt in the middle, Central Valley won WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A titles last year behind a defense that held 7 of 12 opponents to a touchdown or less. He finished the year with 90 total tackles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a TD. He lists offers from Air Force, Army, Navy, Robert Morris and Lehigh.

Watch Matt Merritt highlights

4. Mike Wells

New Castle

Senior, 6-3, 215

Wells might be better known for his work on the basketball court, where the Red Hurricanes won another WPIAL title last winter. But the multi-sport athlete (he also high jumps) is a talented linebacker and quarterback for New Castle’s football team. He drew his first Division I offer from Youngstown State.

Watch Mike Wells highlights

5. Ethan Hiester

Upper St. Clair

Senior, 5-11, 200

Hiester isn’t your traditional linebacker but rather a linebacker/safety hybrid. Regardless of his positions, he’s an aggressive tackler who’ll take on running backs at the line of scrimmage. He lists Division I offers from Dayton and Valparaiso along with Division II schools Clarion and Walsh.

Watch Ethan Hiester highlights


Nico Pate

Peters Township

Senior, 6-1, 215

The Indians are counting on Pate for another all-conference season at linebacker but first he has to get fully healthy. His playing time may be limited early this season while he recovers from surgery for a knee injury sustained in the WPIAL playoffs a year ago. Miami (Ohio) has offered him.

Watch Nico Pate highlights

• • • • •


QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | CB | S | K

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Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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