Bishop Canevin safety Jason Cross, whose recruiting stock soared, commits to West Virginia

Friday, June 30, 2023 | 11:57 PM

As one of the WPIAL’s hottest football recruits, Jason Cross spent months touring far-flung college campuses, with visits to Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Kentucky, Syracuse and Cincinnati on his calendar.

Yet the rising senior at Bishop Canevin says a trip to Morgantown, W.Va., bested them all.

“West Virginia definitely takes care of you on those official visits,” said Cross, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound safety who announced his commitment Friday to the Mountaineers. “I know a lot of kids who were up there the same weekend as me who ended up committing there.”

He said there was no specific activity that made the WVU trip different, but rather interactions with coaches he called “genuine.” Specifically, Cross said he was drawn to Morgantown by position coach Dontae Wright.

“I feel like that’s what makes a home a home,” he said. “Not where you’re at, but the people.”

Cross privately told WVU coaches his decision a week ago, before revealing his commitment publicly at a celebration with family and friends at Kennard Field in the Hill District, where he grew up playing youth football. He said it was important to include them in his big day.

“Sitting at the table, seeing everybody standing in front of me, all of the cameras were out, it felt crazy,” Cross said. “My heart was racing, but it was all worth it.”

At this time last summer, Cross had no college offers, but as recruiters took notice, he became one of the hotter prospects in the WPIAL. His scholarship list quickly grew to nearly two dozen.

Michigan State and Syracuse were his other finalists. He also listed offers from Penn State, Texas A&M, Maryland, Iowa State and Boston College, among others.

Recruiting website rated Cross as a three-star prospect and ranked him 33rd overall in Pennsylvania among 2024 graduates. He plays safety and quarterback for Bishop Canevin, which won the WPIAL Class A title in 2021 and was the runner-up last fall.

He showed his versatility a season ago by contributing touchdowns passing (18), rushing (eight) and receiving (two). Defensively, he intercepted six passes and recovered a fumble.

He’ll be a third-year starter this fall. Canevin coach Rich Johnson said colleges were maybe delayed in recruiting Cross because he sprouted up over the last two years after standing 5-7 as a freshman.

“When you’re at that level, they want a certain measurement,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to check some boxes. He’s always checked them (skill-wise), but once he grew to that size ….”

Cross’ first college offer arrived in August from Akron and his second came from Kent State in November. Others soon followed, including Penn State and West Virginia in January.

“They started rolling in right after (the Akron offer),” said his father, Jason Sr. “As a family, me and his mom, we teared up instantly. … We all always believed in this. We knew he was going to be special.”

Cross said that within days of offering him a scholarship, West Virginia coach Neal Brown visited his high school. Cross traveled to Morgantown in March and returned again this month.

“I think West Virginia was the only school to bring their head coach to my school and visit me,” he said. “That meant a lot to me. … Since then Coach Wright has been recruiting me hard, showing how much I was a priority with them.”

Cross took a trip to Syracuse earlier this month, and visited Blacksburg, Va., East Lansing, Mich., Lexington, Ky., and Cincinnati in the spring. He ultimately decided to stay closer to home, even if that sounds less glamorous.

“When you think of Morgantown, you think about the country. There isn’t much to do out there,” Cross said. “But really, there’s not supposed to be. You’re going there for football. It keeps you locked in. It keeps you focused. You can have all of the fun on campus with your boys.”

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


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