Latrobe QB/DB John Wetzel verbally commits to Marshall for football

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | 4:10 PM

Rising senior John Wetzel has seen first hand the resurgence of the Latrobe football program.

He has noticed the change in attitude. The shift in perception. The wins.

“We have a lot more we want to do: A state title is the main goal,” said Wetzel, a quarterback and defensive back. “We have a winning group. It’s been like that all the way up. It’s crazy to think how fast all of this has happened.”

Another bonus for the Wildcats has been the increased college attention from Division I schools. A number of players have designs on a college career.

The recruiting of Wetzel seemed to parallel the uptick in the program, interest in him gaining steam as the Wildcats did. On Tuesday, it all culminated for Wetzel with his verbal commitment to Marshall.

A three-star prospect, the 6-foot, 195-pound Wetzel was recruited as a safety.

“It’s a good fit for him,” Latrobe coach Ron Prady said. “There are similarities to what they do and what we do. John fits their run (defense) well. It’s like having another linebacker with him.”

Prady said Wetzel made a strong connection with head coach Charles Huff and safeties coach Bob Shoop, an Oakmont native.

While Power Five offers come with clout, Wetzel was more concerned with finding the right situation.

Marshall is classified as Group of Five, an FBS-level program that plays in the Sun Belt Conference.

“Power Five is cool on paper,” Wetzel said. “But I want to go to the NFL, and you can do that from any school. I want to go somewhere and play.”

Wetzel, a hard-hitting force in the secondary, is the second high-level commit from this Latrobe team. He joins senior linebacker Alex Tatsch, a four-star prospect who selected Penn State over a pile of Division I offers.

Wetzel last season helped Latrobe to an 8-4 record and a near-upset of Aliquippa in the WPIAL 4A quarterfinals. The Wildcats rallied before falling short, 37-29.

Wetzel caught a touchdown in that game.

As a junior, Wetzel passed for 1,289 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,117 yards and 16 TDs.

He had 73 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery for a score.

“John has that competitive nature,” Prady said. “He hates to lose as much as anybody. He is driven to be great.”

Perhaps not wanting to slight anyone, Wetzel said he didn’t narrow his list of suitors to a top five or even a top three.

But spending time with coaches put Marshall over the top on a list of 14 offers.

He said he watched film with Huff, breaking down defensive clips of the Thundering Herd.

“I went to a practice and had a great time down there,” Wetzel said. “We watched film, and he showed me how what Marshall does compared to what NFL teams do. I could see myself fitting into what they do.”

Other schools to offer Wetzel included West Virginia, Boston College, Temple, Louisville, Monmouth, Akron, Old Dominion, Delaware, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Lehigh and Robert Morris.

Prady said college coaches liked that Wetzel also plays quarterback, a sign of his leadership ability and heady acumen.

“He’s like a QB on defense, too,” Prady said.

Wetzel, the son of longtime Latrobe boys basketball coach Brad Wetzel, said the recuiting process, while gratifying, has weighed heavily on his shoulders.

“My mom and dad and coach Prady have really helped me through it all,” he said. “They helped me make my decision.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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