CTK 2015 – MSA Sports Preseason ELITE ELEVEN

Sunday, August 16, 2015 | 7:38 PM

The Pittsburgh Central Catholic football team is being touted as one of the top 25 teams in the country in some national polls. The strength of the Vikings can be seen on this year’s MSA Sports Elite 11 team.

Central Catholic has two players on this year’s preseason Elite 11 – Damar Hamlin and David Adams. Central Catholic is the only team with two players on the Elite 11. The team is made up of the top 11 players in the WPIAL, regardless of position, and is picked by the MSA Sports staff.

Hamlin, a senior, and Adams, a junior, are both being recruited heavily by major colleges. But Central Catholic has a handful of other players with scholarship offers from Division I-A colleges.

Junior achievement also is a theme of this Elite 11. Four of the players are juniors. Four of the 11 already have made their college decisions and one of them already has a WPIAL record for most rushing yards in a season.

Here is a look at the 2015 MSA Sports Preseason Elite Eleven:

RB-DB, 5-11, 205, SR.

It’s not an overstatement to say Sanders is one of the top senior running backs in the country. Rivals.com ranks him No. 1 in the country and Scout.com No. 3. Sanders has been a starter since his freshman year and has 3,050 yards rushing on 372 carries in three seasons. As a junior, he rushed for 1,248 yards and averaged 10.9 yards per carry. He scored 17 touchdowns and has 43 career TDs. Sanders will play full-time on defense this year at defensive back.

Sanders made a verbal commitment to Penn State before his junior year. There were reports in the spring that Sanders was wavering on his commitment, but he has said he is still 100 percent committed to the Nittany Lions. Pitt, Alabama, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech were among the many other schools that offered a scholarship.

6-2, 190, WR-DB, SR.

Hamlin is rated by most scouting services as the top defensive back in Pennsylvania. He plays safety and cornerback for the Vikings, but is being recruited my most colleges to play cornerback. Hamlin had four interceptions last season for the WPIAL Class AAAA runner-up Vikings. He will see much more time at receiver this season.

Hamlin has not made a college decision yet and said he probably won’t decide until some point this season. He has scholarship offers from colleges across the country. Many feel Penn State and Ohio State are his top choices, but Pitt also is in the field. UCLA, Michigan State and Notre Dame are among the other colleges that have offered scholarships.

5-11, 205, RB-DB, Sr.

Hudson fuels McKeesport’s flexbone offense. A year ago, he was one of the WPIAL’s leading rushers and finished with 1,644 yards rushing on 179 attempts and scored 26 touchdowns. But Hudson also is an excellent defensive back.

It seems most colleges want Hudson for defense. He announced on Twitter a little more than a week ago that he would announce his college choice Aug. 8. But he decided to delay his decision. Pitt and Penn State are two of his top schools, but he also has offers from numerous other schools, including West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan State and UCLA.

5-10, 160, QB-DB, Sr.

Billy The Kid has been The Man in Penn Hills’ offense since he became the starting QB as a sophomore two years ago. He doesn’t throw much, but is a very effective running quarterback. In two seasons, he has rushed for 2,210 yards on 302 carries. He has thrown 138 times and completed 57 for 925 yards.

Kisner will likely play receiver or possibly defensive back in college. He already has made a verbal commitment to the University of Toledo.

5-10, 180, RB-DB, Jr.

Wade is one of the highest-rated players the WPIAL has had since Terrelle Pryor. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 5 player in the entire junior class, while Scout.com ranks him No. 21.

Wade has made headlines in the past few seasons for his ability as a running back, but most colleges like him as a defensive back. He is ranked one of the top cornerbacks in the country in the junior class. As a running back, he set a WPIAL single-season rushing record last year with 2,765 yards on 233 carries. As a freshman he rushed for 636 yards on 58 attempts.

Wade already has many major-college scholarship offers. Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State and Auburn are a few of the schools that have offered.

6-4, 290, OL-DL, Sr.

Buccigrossi has been on North Hills’ varsity since his freshman year and this will be his third year as a starter. North Hills will probably run behind him plenty this season.

Buccigrossi already has made a verbal commitment to West Virginia. He made his decision in June. He was offered scholarships by 17 colleges overall. Arizona, Northwestern, Virginia and Temple were among the schools that offered. Buccigrossi, who has a 3.4 grade-point average, plans to major in engineering at West Virginia and might graduate early from North Hills, in order to be at West Virginia for the fall semester.

RB-LB, 6-2, 215, Sr.

The latest in a line of standout players at Aliquippa. Pugh’s stepbrother is NFL star Darrelle Revis and Pugh is the cousin of West Virginia University defensive back Dravon Henry. Pugh has been on Aliquippa’s varsity since his freshman year and has become a force at both running back and linebacker. He rushed for 1,621 yards on 156 attempts as a junior and has 2,528 yards on 260 attempts for his career.

Pugh has Division I scholarship offers. Some like him as a linebacker but a few think he could possibly be a running back. He said his favorites are Pitt, West Virginia and Maryland.

LB, 6-2, 220, Jr.

Adams is one of the best junior linebackers in the country. At least that’s what recruiting services say. Rivals.com ranks Adams as the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country in the class of 2017. Adams started for Central Catholic last season and Central Catholic coaches believe he could end up as one of the best linebackers ever at the school.

Adams already has a number of scholarship offers from Division I colleges. He recently was offered by Stanford. Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and Nebraska are among the other schools that have offered.

TE-DE-LB, 6-2, 215, Sr.

Thimons gets high marks – both on the field and off. He has better than a 4.0 grade-point average. A year ago, he was the Valley News Dispatch Defensive Player of the Year. He led Freeport in tackles the past two seasons, making more than 100 last season to go along with 5 ½ sacks. He moves well and can play either defensive end or linebacker.

Thimons has known for a while where he will play college football. He made a verbal commitment to West Virginia last summer, before the start of his junior year. Other Division I colleges were showing interest, but West Virginia was the first to offer.

WR-DB, 6-0, 170 Jr.

Ford is one of the top junior defensive backs in the state. After transferring from Central Catholic after his freshman year, he made a big impact last season as a sophomore, intercepting four passes and catching 34 passes for 529 yards.

Ford is being heavily recruited by Division I colleges. Rivals.com ranks him the No. 4 safety in the country in the class of 2017. He has scholarship offers from Pitt, Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan and UCLA, as well as many others.

RB-DB, 5-10, 180, Jr.

Murray is only a junior, but already has close to 3,000 career yards rushing. He burst on the scene two years ago as a freshman when he rushed for 1,488 yards on 139 carries. He followed that with another 1,000-yard season as a sophomore when he run for 1,255 yards on 102 carries. His yards-per-carry average for his two years is a whopping 11.4 and he has 2,743 yards on 241 attempts.

Some Division I colleges have expressed some interest in Murray.

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