Norwin’s Thrift seeks golden finish to high school career

Friday, July 20, 2018 | 6:54 PM


The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized at 2 p.m. July 24 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

Norwin is one of just nine teams playing in WPIAL Class 6A this season. The Knights may not carry the championship clout of some of their counterparts, like Pine-Richland and Central Catholic, but they have something those schools don’t: a gifted safety in Jayvon Thrift.

Thrift is one of the most sought-after defensive players in the WPIAL this season, with offers on the table from Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse and others. But the 5-foot-11, 190-pound incoming senior wants to leave one final imprint on Norwin’s program.

Norwin Knights Stadium will host the Class 5A championship this year, but Thrift and his teammates are hoping to carve out a path to Heinz Field for the 6A title game.

“I feel like I need to end this chapter with a bang this year,” Thrift said. “Making it to the 6A championship is always the goal … and winning.”

College coaches seem to appreciate Thrift’s ability to cover a lot of ground and close-in on ball carriers, a big set of jaws in the Knights’ secondary.

Norwin coaches like his game-changing ablility. A big hit here or a batted-down ball there can give the offense a fresh set of downs.

“Jayvon’s physicality helps set the tone for our defense,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “Jayvon is a very good tackler and is able to make plays in space. Jayvon has a skill set that enables us to utilize him around the box in the running game, on blitzes, as well as help in our pass defense both in coverage and as a deep safety.”

Thift won’t be alone as far as college-level talent goes. Fellow senior Gianni Rizzo has a bevy of offers, including ones from Army, New Hampshire, Elon, Akron, Bucknell, Albany and others.

Junior quarterback Jack Salopek, meantime, has an offer from Pitt.

Thrift and Rizzo are a defensive combo unlike many others with their combination of speed, hands and size. And think how much easier Salopek’s job can be with that duo helping to move the sticks.

“We play every game like it’s our last game,” Thrift said. “All of us have something to prove every game because if not, you will be called overrated or some type of insult.”

Thrift can make opponents feel the same way.

Jayvon Thrift

School: Norwin

Class: Senior

Ht/Wt: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds

Positions: Safety/running back

Committed to: Undecided

Division I offers: Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse, Buffalo, Indiana, Temple, Toledo, Army, Youngstown State, Ohio.

2017 statistics: 79 tackles, 1 interception; 383 rushing yards, 9 receptions, 7 touchdowns.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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