2022 HSSN football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the wide receivers

Wednesday, August 17, 2022 | 11:05 PM

How’s this for a good quarterback-receiver combination?

One of the top quarterbacks from last season, Laurel Highlands’ Rodney Gallagher, is becoming a wide receiver. And one of the leading receivers from last season, Greensburg Salem’s Cody Rubrecht, is becoming a quarterback.

Rubrecht was one of three WPIAL pass catchers to top 1,000 yards last season. Mt. Lebanon’s Eli Heidenreich had 1,330 yards, Serra Catholic’s Terrell Booth had 1,040 and Rubrecht had 1,010. Of the three, only Rubrecht returns, but he won’t be catching passes.

TribLive HSSN will break down the top players at one position per day until Week Zero. Here’s a look at the top wide receivers for the 2022 season.

1. Rodney Gallagher

Laurel Highlands

Senior, 6-0, 180

The WPIAL’s top receiver caught only one pass last season — a 22-yarder in Week 8. That’s because Gallagher was busy playing quarterback. He rushed for 1,365 yards, passed for 1,130 and contributed to 34 touchdowns. But this year, he’s moving back to wide receiver, a position the highly recruited West Virginia commit will play in college. In his first two seasons, Gallagher caught 42 passes for 791 yards before switching to QB in his sophomore year. The two-sport star received around two dozen D1 offers. He chose the Mountaineers from a list that included Pitt, Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and Texas.

Watch Rodney Gallagher highlights

2. Peter Gonzalez

Central Catholic

Junior, 6-2, 185

Gonzalez is one of the state’s top college recruits from the 2024 class with Power 5 offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. As a sophomore, he caught 18 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings graduated their top pass catcher from last year, so expect Gonzalez’s workload to increase. His TD catches included a 48-yarder. His father Pete played quarterback for Pitt in the 1990s and later spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Watch Peter Gonzalez highlights

3. Luke Lawson

Seneca Valley

Senior, 6-3, 200

The Navy recruit ranked second among WPIAL Class 6A receivers last season with 51 catches. He turned those chances into 673 yards and six touchdowns with his longest TD covering 64 yards. Lawson also made 43 tackles and had one interception as an all-conference safety. He committed to the Midshipmen over offers from Brown, Columbia, Duquesne and St. Francis.

Watch Luke Lawson highlights

4. Aidan Besselman

Upper St. Clair

Senior, 6-2, 180

Besselman is a deep threat in Upper St. Clair’s offense and has shown a knack for coming down with contested catches. He had 30 receptions for 412 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He holds around 20 Division I offers including FBS schools Army, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio, along with a number of Ivy and Patriot league teams.

Watch Aidan Besselman highlights

5. Nate Deanes

South Fayette

Junior, 5-9, 175

Deanes rushed for a team-high 602 yards last year and earned all-conference honors as a running back, but catching passes is his new priority. He moved this summer to slot receiver, which is always a busy job in South Fayette’s offense. He gave a preview of his receiving skills last season with 27 catches.

Watch Nate Deanes highlights

Ones to watch

Lesae Lacks and Xavier Nelson

Bishop Canevin

Nelson and Lacks form one of the WPIAL’s top receiving duos. They’re both 5-foot-9, 160-pound seniors and they put up big numbers a year ago when Bishop Canevin won a WPIAL Class A title. Combined, they caught 92 passes for 1,875 yards and scored 29 total touchdowns.

Watch Xavier Nelson highlights

Watch Lesae Lacks highlights

• • • • •

Position breakdowns

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

Top five coaching changes for 2022

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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