Norwin’s Thrift to play at West Virginia as preferred walk-on
By: Paul Schofield
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 | 11:56 AM
Norwin senior safety Jayvon Thrift’s first football scholarship offer came from West Virginia during his sophomore year.
Pitt offered shortly afterward, as did many others.
In early October, he pledged his commitment to Youngstown State.
But things changed Sunday when he de-committed.
During the first day of the NCAA’s three-day early signing period Wednesday, Thrift committed to West Virginia and signed as a preferred walk-on.
He plans to graduate the first week of January and enroll early at WVU on Jan. 7 to get a jump on his college career. Thrift will attempt to earn a scholarship from the Mountaineers.
“At the end of the day, it’s where I always wanted to go,” Thrift said. “I told the (WVU) coaches my favorite Mountaineer was Karl (Joseph). I liked the way he played.
“Coach (Tony) Gibson, the defensive coordinator, asked me how I learned to hit so well. I told him ‘from watching Karl Joseph. He’s my idol.’ “
Joseph was a 2016 first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders and was known for his hitting.
That’s an area where Thrift excels, according to Norwin coach Dave Brozeski.
“Even though Jayvon didn’t have his best season (senior year), he was still our leading tackler,” Brozeski said. “He’s a physical player. That’s why we brought him up as a freshman.”
West Virginia received national letters of intent from 18 players Wednesday, and five were defensive backs, including two safeties.
Thrift said the reason he switched his commitment is because he didn’t feel a connection with the Youngstown State coaches.
“It’s good that Jayvon is enrolling early,” Brozeski said. “He’ll get to see that speed of the game and be able to work on things.”
Thrift led the Knights with 87 tackles, including 49 solo. He averaged 9.7 tackles per game.
He will join his cousin, Brandon Thrift, a Gateway graduate, who is a senior defensive lineman at WVU.
“I’m excited,” Jayvon Thrift said. “I know they work hard, train hard and know how to win big games.
“It’s a great atmosphere, and I can’t wait. And yes I know the words to ‘Country Roads.’ ”
He wasn’t the only Westmoreland County football player to sign on the first day of the early signing period.
Thrift’s teammate at Norwin, defensive back Gianni Rizzo, signed with Youngstown State; Latrobe lineman Trent Holler signed with East Carolina; Ligonier Valley wide receiver Aaron Tutino inked his signature to St. Francis (Pa.); and Jeannette receiver/safety Marcus Barnes signed with William & Mary.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.