Patriot League school Lehigh ‘checked all boxes’ for Baldwin safety Connor Lavelle

Monday, August 3, 2020 | 12:14 AM

Two of the colleges recruiting Connor Lavelle are about 15 miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania, so he visited both on the same road trip.

He saw Lafayette, but Lehigh felt like home.

“It just had that good vibe with me,” said Lavelle, a rising senior on Baldwin’s football team. “I like the campus to start with. The drive, four hours is not terrible. My parents could drive up and see the game. It’s a little town. I liked that too. Just all around, I liked every aspect of it.”

Lavelle, who committed to Lehigh two weeks ago, announced his decision Monday on Twitter.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back and wide receiver had more than a dozen Division I offers. He also considered Dartmouth, Louisiana-Monroe and Yale, but Lehigh was the clear favorite, he said.

“It checked all of my boxes,” Lavelle said. “Good academics. Good football. Loved the coaching staff. It had that ‘home’ vibe for me.”

Lavelle will play safety for the Mountain Hawks. As a player with a strong motor and good ball skills, that’s a natural position for him, even though Baldwin needed him to play linebacker last season. Some colleges were recruiting him as a linebacker or hybrid safety.

This fall, he’ll transition to Baldwin’s secondary.

“The techniques and positions are different, but I love the process because I get to know both,” Lavelle said. “It just makes you more dangerous.”

He ranked among Baldwin’s top receivers with 21 catches for 252 yards.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted the process for many recruits in the 2021 graduating class. Athletes still can’t have in-person visits with college coaches or take official visits, so Lavelle could only tour the campus when he was there.

“It was definitely difficult,” Lavelle said. “First, you couldn’t go to any camps. You couldn’t take any official or unofficial visits, unless you got it done in February. All of it was online. You had to just go with your instincts, really, because you couldn’t go visit with any schools. You’ve got to trust the virtual tours and trust what your coaches are telling you.”

It helped that Lehigh has an assistant coach with Western Pennsylvania roots. The football team’s recruiting coordinator is Anthony DiMichele, a 2007 Sto-Rox graduate.

“We definitely had that connection as two Western Pennsylvania guys,” Lavelle said.

Lehigh went 4-7 overall last year, 2-3 in the Patriot League in coach Tom Gilmore’s first season. The team’s 2020 roster has four former WPIAL players.

After visiting the campus, Lavelle was ready to commit.

“I didn’t want to waste any more time,” he said. “I pretty much had my mind set that I was going to Lehigh. I didn’t want to keep the stress on me. I wanted to just get to work on the high school season.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at


More High School Recruiting

Westmoreland County high school notebook: Franklin Regional cornerback pops up on Division I radar
WPIAL basketball standout Meleek Thomas leaving Lincoln Park for Overtime Elite pro league
Westmoreland high school sports notebook: GCC’s Crosby gets Buffalo’s attention
Norwin soccer standout Owen Christopher makes dream come true with Pitt commitment
Westmoreland County high school notebook: Belle Vernon runner picks Robert Morris