Like famous uncle, Central Catholic’s Elliot Donald seems poised for ‘great things’

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Saturday, July 6, 2019 | 5:53 PM


The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized July 23 during Trib HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

Central Catholic’s Elliot Donald noticed a video on Twitter this week that showed his famous uncle’s Penn Hills football days.

The younger Donald, who patterns parts of his game after his NFL All-Pro uncle, Aaron, could see similarities at the snap.

“I focus on having a fast get-off,” said Donald, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound defensive tackle who will be a junior in the fall.

Like his uncle did in high school, Donald already is studying the pass-rushing techniques that make good defensive tackles great. His highlight video from last fall begins with a well-timed swim move to slip past a blocker and into the backfield.

That is not his only move, but it is his favorite.

“I’ve learned them from just watching film and then talking to my uncle,” Donald said. “My uncle is a real strong dude, but he always told me that you’ll get tired (using strength alone). … He told me to start using my hands more. Start using technique.”

Donald wants to make his own way but also appreciates his family history, Central Catholic defensive coordinator Dave Fleming said, even if that comes with added expectations.

“He understands the bloodline,” Fleming said. “Believe me, there’s a lot more expectation inside of his own family than anybody else could put on him. They expect great things from him, which in turn makes it easy for us to push him in that direction.”

Donald didn’t start as a sophomore. Starting in the fourth week, he rotated in at defensive tackle and finished with 812 sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.

Now a year older, Donald enters his junior season as a major-college recruit who is expected to be a powerful force in the middle of Central Catholic’s defense. All four starting defensive linemen have Division I offers.

Donald received his first Division I offer in May 2018 from Toledo, but his recruitment has intensified since January. He now has 17 FBS offers including Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia regionally but also LSU, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others.

“At this time last year, this was a dream,” Donald said. “During the season, I was just focused on going out and winning. I didn’t really think about getting offers. It’s kind of unreal.”

Fleming said he is not surprised.

“Elliot is really, really an extraordinary kid,” Fleming said. “His personality, his commitment to the game, it’s unquestioned. He has great, great things in front of him.”

Donald file

School: Central Catholic

Class: Junior

Height/weight: 6-2/230

Position: DT

Stars: four

Division I offers: 17 including Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia, along with LSU, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others

2018 stats: 8.5 sacks, 14 TFL, 2 forced fumbles

Trib HSSN Preseason All-Stars

A.J. Beatty, Central Catholic

Fintan Brose, Hempfield

Tui Brown, Gateway

Michael Carmody, Mars

Josh Casilli, Peters Township

Johnny Crise, Highlands

Derrick Davis, Gateway

Daniel Deabner, Thomas Jefferson

Deamontae Diggs, McKeesport

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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