Harlan on recruiting: Toledo coaches impressed by WPIAL athletes

Friday, January 19, 2018 | 5:01 PM

Within a six-minute span early this week, Woodland Hills junior Mike Coleman and Gateway teammates Courtney Jackson and Jeremiah Josephs announced scholarship offers from Toledo football.

West Mifflin junior Parrish Parker soon joined them with an excited post on his Twitter account as well.

None of the four recruits listed any FBS offers before Monday, but that fits with Toledo's willingness to take chances on WPIAL players.

“They know how to recruit,” said Joe Butler, Metro Index Scouting Director. “They get on guys early, they know what they're looking at, they hang in there with them and the kids are having success.

“So success breeds success.”

Butler points to former Penn Hills defensive tackle Treyvon Hester, who starred at Toledo and just finished a strong rookie season with the Oakland Raiders. Butler also highlights former Aliquippa running back Terry Swanson, who led the Rockets in rushing this past season with 1,363 yards and 14 touchdowns.

In years past, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church, a Penn Hills native, played for Toledo. So too did former Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, a Seton LaSalle graduate.

“They're doing a really thorough job on evaluations,” Butler said. “They have the ability to come in and properly evaluate guys, and they have a recruiting niche here. (Toledo head coach) Jason Candle was an assistant; he's recruited here. He knows the kids here are good.”

Toledo promoted Candle from offensive coordinator after the 2105 season when coach Matt Campbell left for Iowa State. The Rockets finished 11-3 last season and won the Mid-American Conference.

Running backs coach Marquel Blackwell recruits Western Pennsylvania.

All four recruits targeted this week could play defensive back in college, though Jackson might play wideout, a position that earned him all-state honors this season.

Coleman (6-1, 160) listed Toledo as his first college offer while Parker (5-10, 180) listed just Howard previously.

“They're both talented DBs,” Butler said. “Mike Coleman is a corner. Quick. Athletic. Good hips. Parrish Parker is a guy who could play corner or safety. Tough kid. Supports the run. Athletic.”

Gateway's Jackson (6-0, 165) and Josephs (6-0, 160) were two-way standouts for the WPIAL Class 5A champion. Jackson had 96 receptions for 1,916 yards and 24 touchdowns. Josephs had 53 receptions but also seven interceptions.

“I like them both,” Butler said. “Courtney Jackson is a multi-faceted athlete who could be a wide receiver or an athletic-type corner with ball skills. He has real good hands. … Josephs could play safety or corner. He's a jack-knife type tackler.”

Josephs lists FCS offers from Robert Morris and Howard. Before this week, Jackson had offers from only Robert Morris, Howard and St. Francis, Pa., but also added MAC schools Akron and Bowling Green on Monday.

“They're two really good players who can fit into Division I programs and have good collegiate careers in the secondary,” Butler said.

Two-sport star

Move over Robby, the Carmody family has another D1 athlete. Younger brother Michael, a sophomore at Mars, announced a Pitt football offer Thursday.

Michael Carmody is a 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end and defensive end who joined the football team last fall. He's a starter alongside his brother on Mars' basketball team that is ranked No. 1 in WPIAL Class 5A.

Robby Carmody, a senior, already signed with Notre Dame basketball.

Just like his dad

North Allegheny junior Joey Porter Jr. added scholarship offers this month from West Virginia, Temple and Maryland, but the Colorado State offer he announced Wednesday hit close to home. That's the alma mater of his father, a former Steelers linebacker and current assistant coach.

Porter Jr. (6-1, 175) plays defensive back and wide receiver for North Allegheny. He's part of a 2019 class in the WPIAL that's deep at cornerback and safety.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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