Noel Roach commits to Akron after talks with former Penn Hills teammate

Friday, June 19, 2020 | 6:18 PM

Noel Roach couldn’t visit Akron’s campus, so the Penn Hills senior found other ways to learn about the school and its football program.

It helps to have a trusted source on the inside.

Roach committed Friday to Akron, where former Penn Hills teammate Corey Thomas is a redshirt freshman on the Zips roster. A 6-foot-1, 180-pound safety and wide receiver, Roach picked Akron over Bowling Green, Navy and Western Michigan.

“He didn’t sugarcoat anything,” Roach said. “He was very helpful in this process, getting me all the information I needed. I asked him a lot of questions and he answered them truthful.”

Roach already liked the coaches and the campus, so that first-hand knowledge from a former teammate gave him confidence to commit. Coach Tom Arth’s staff offered him a scholarship in January and kept in touch throughout the coronavirus pandemic. He took virtual tours of the campus online.

“The coaches all showed me love from the beginning,” Roach said. “They’re really committed to turning the program around and committed to me.”

Akron went 0-12 last season and 0-8 in the Mid-American Conference under Arth, who’s entering his second season. Thomas redshirted last season as a freshman but appeared in three games and started one. Roach likes the idea that someday, maybe he and Thomas could share the field, both as safeties.

The coronavirus has impacted the recruiting process for many prospects in the 2021 class. The NCAA has prevented recruits from taking official visits.

“It definitely changed it,” Roach said. “It went from visits to Zoom calls and phone calls and Twitter (messages). I couldn’t really see the campuses for myself or visit with the coaches.”

Roach also listed offers from Albany, Army, Buffalo, Bryant, Delaware, Duquesne, Fordham, Furman, Holy Cross, Kent State, Penn, Richmond, St. Francis, Toledo and William & Mary.

The NCAA extended the current recruiting dead period through July, so Roach can’t have face-to-face contact with Akron coaches until at least August. He’s hoping to visit the campus unofficially with his family, just to see the school.

He initially intended to commit later in the summer but decided not to wait.

“Spots are starting to fill up,” Roach said. “They pushed the dead period back to July 31, so you really have little time to get on campus. I wanted to make that decision before the (school) year started, so I could focus on my senior year.”

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


More High School Football

PIAA board makes initial vote to strike health and safety terminology from Competition Formula
2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Imani Christian’s Dayshaun Burnett
PIAA asks appellate court to lift injunction that keeps Aliquippa in 4A football
2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: Central Valley’s Jance Henry Jr.
Former Steelers assistant Dick LeBeau shares wisdom with group of legendary high school football coaches