A-K Valley football players finalize Division I commitments

Wednesday, December 15, 2021 | 1:20 PM

Brandon Lawhorn Moore made a verbal commitment to Miami (Ohio) last month, and Wednesday morning, “Beef” made it official with the Redhawks.

The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Kiski Area offensive tackle joined Cavaliers senior teammate Brock Wilkins (Pitt) and dozens of others from throughout the WPIAL, including Apollo-Ridge lineman Greg Klingensmith (William & Mary), in making their decisions final as the early signing period opened for Division I football.

“This is a great feeling,” said Lawhorn Moore, who was celebrated, along with Wilkins, during an early-morning ceremony with family, coaches and classmates at the school.

“All of the nerves of the process are gone. I am just so excited that I have committed to a school that I really love.

“Everything begins again. From where I started to now, I have another chance to get after it and prove myself again at a pretty high competition level.”

Lawhorn Moore also had Division I offers from Duquesne, Bowling Green, Bucknell, Buffalo, Fordham, Kent State, Maine, New Hampshire, Old Dominion and Toledo.

He will join two other linemen from the WPIAL, Evan Azzara of Plum and Ryan O’Hair of South Fayette, on the Miami (Ohio) roster.

Wilkins, a standout running back and linebacker with the Cavaliers, got the ball rolling at Pitt while attending a camp over the summer. He talked with the running backs and special teams coaches and then got a chance to see the facilities.

As time went on, he said he felt the Panthers program was the place for him. He will join the team as a preferred walk-on, securing a roster spot for the 2022 season.

“The opportunity is there to show what I can do, and I am incredibly excited,” said Wilkins, who hopes to impact the future of a Pitt team that made waves in 2021 with a 10-2 record, an ACC championship and a Dec. 30 date in the Peach Bowl against Michigan State.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football, and that dream is coming true today. I am thankful for everyone who has helped make this possible. This couldn’t have been a better day with the opportunity to sign with Beef.”

Wilkins joins his brother, Ryan, a long snapper at Elon College, as football players at the Division I level.

Kiski Area coach Sam Albert had nothing but high praise for his two senior Division I commits.

“They deserve everything they have or will have,” he said. “Both are great kids in the classroom and are hard workers in the weight room and on the field. You hope they get rewarded for everything they’ve done. This is the start of an exciting journey for both of them.”

Wilkins and Lawhorn Moore helped Kiski Area finish last season 6-4. The Cavaliers lost several close Northeast Conference games and ended 1-4, out of playoff contention.

Klingensmith, a 6-5, 230-pound offensive and defensive tackle, capped his senior season with Apollo-Ridge as a first-team selection on both offense and defense.

William & Mary won over the Klingensmith a number of times during the recruiting process, including his official visit Nov. 13 as the Griffins faced nationally ranked James Madison. He also was celebrated during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the high school.

“When I was a freshman, I thought it would be really tough to go somewhere because Apollo-Ridge is such a small school,” Klingensmith said. “Then you see what Tre Tipton has done at Pitt, so I knew it was possible. I just kept working hard and tried to get my name out there.

“When I went up for my visit, they said they really wanted me, and that was such a great feeling. They played well against JMU, but (JMU) is just so tough. But the system, how they coached, how the players react to adversity, seeing all of that and some other things, I could tell it was the place for me.”

Football commits for Division I have until Friday to finalize their decisions. The regular period for Division I, as well as D-II, begins Feb. 2 and continues until April 1 for D-I and Aug. 1 for D-II.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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