North Allegheny’s Khalil Dinkins commits to Penn State

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 | 1:01 PM

Video conference calls replaced many of the in-school recruiting visits and campus tours canceled during the pandemic.

North Allegheny senior Khalil Dinkins, one of the WPIAL’s top football players, navigated that new normal this year and committed Wednesday to Penn State.

Dinkins announced his decision on Twitter.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver and linebacker had nearly 20 FBS offers including Pitt and West Virginia. Michigan, Virginia Tech and Kentucky were among his other options.

In part, North Allegheny coach Art Walker credited the adaptability of Penn State coaches.

“They tried to do as many of those (online) opportunities as they could without over doing it,” Walker said. “They had conversations with me, and I know they were in contact with him. They talked all the time about what he’s doing right now, how things are going, how they’re handing school and covid.

“Through that process, there was a familiarity with each other and a strong comfort level.”

Penn State was among Dinkins’ favorites all summer. He was the second North Allegheny player in three years to pick the Nittany Lions. Joey Porter Jr. signed with Penn State in 2019.

Dinkins can make his commitment official during the NCAA’s early signing period Dec. 16-18. The traditional signing day is Feb. 3, but that date is used less frequently nowadays.

Walker said Penn State coaches envision Dinkins playing a tight end or H-back role similar to current Nittany Lions junior Pat Freiermuth, who had 43 catches last season.

“They’re going to look at him as that flex tight end that moves around,” he said. “They’ve had some guys in the last few years play that spot really well.”

Right now, Dinkins does a little bit of everything for North Allegheny. He scored five touchdowns in five regular-season games for the Tigers, who were the top-ranked team in WPIAL Class 6A.

Dinkins led North Allegheny with 16 receptions for 234 yards, but also had 130 rushing yards on 19 carries. In the team’s biggest win, a 35-21 victory over Central Catholic in Week 3, he scored twice, reaching the end zone on a 4-yard run and a 40-yard interception return.

“He has size and strength and speed,” Walker said. “Being athletic and having the ball-skills that he does, it’s a rare combination.”

His father Darnell is a Schenley graduate who played football at Pitt and in the NFL as a tight end for the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints.

Dinkins also listed offers from Akron, Boston College, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Georgia Tech, Kent State, Maryland, Michigan State, Syracuse, Toledo, Tulane and Virginia.

Walker said the pandemic made this a challenging recruiting process for athletes in Dinkins’ 2021 graduating class.

“You didn’t have any (in-school) visits in the spring because we weren’t in session, and a lot of people come visit in April and May,” Walker said. “Recruiting was done through Zoom meetings, so that definitely was different.”

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


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