Penn Hills’ Jaden Dugger finds Division I fit at Georgetown

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Sunday, February 6, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Developing into a leader as a senior wide receiver at Penn Hills didn’t mean Jaden Dugger had to be a rah-rah guy.

All Dugger ever wanted to be was himself. Encouraged by Indians coach Jon LeDonne, Dugger became a leader on his terms.

“It was about being more confident,” Dugger said. “Coach LeDonne told me I didn’t have to be vocal. I could lead by example. I did that by being on the practice field on time. I went to film study on time. It was the little things.”

Dugger, who is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, used that newfound confidence, coupled with his gridiron experience, to find a spot at the next level. On national signing day Feb. 2, Dugger was one of three Penn Hills’ football players to make their college decisions.

Dugger will be heading to Georgetown, which competes at the Football Championship Subdivision level in the Patriot League. Offensive lineman Luke Pugliese signed with Slippery Rock and defensive back Chase Barney chose Fairmont State in West Virginia.

LeDonne, who played collegiately at Robert Morris, was happy to see where all his kids landed. When it came to Dugger, LeDonne said Georgetown first got in touch with him last month.

The Hoyas had a tough year in 2021, finishing 2-8 overall, including a 1-5 mark in conference play.

“They’re excited to get him,” LeDonne said. “They were shocked he was available. He has a Division I body, and he’s going to play at the FCS level. He’s going to have a lot of success.”

Dugger scored 13 touchdowns last season for Penn Hills and caught 36 passes for 546 yards. The Indians won a share of the Northeast Conference title and advanced to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals before losing to Moon.

Dugger said Georgetown was the only official visit he made. He was impressed with the atmosphere.

“You can tell it’s a great community and great city,” Dugger said. “The school is in the city. The alumni all spoke well about the school.”

LeDonne said a few more Penn Hills players may end up signing in the next month. How college football has changed in the past few years has altered the recruiting experience.

Players getting an extra year of experience because of covid eliminated some opportunities for kids coming out of high school. Also, some coaches are more inclined to hit the transfer portal to find players who could play right away instead of grabbing players out of high school.

“As a coaching staff, we’re always promoting and pushing our kids out to coaches and universities,” LeDonne said. “Academics is a huge part of it. We’re always talking to our players to make sure their goals and dreams are realistic. Everyone is shooting for the stars, but college recruiting is so competitive now, we have to be realistic.”

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