Trib HSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team: Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon
Sunday, July 18, 2021 | 4:13 PM
The Tribune-Review and the TribLive High School Sports Network are profiling each member of the 25-player Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star team. The players will be recognized Thursday during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.
Devin Whitlock plays football in cursive.
Whether he is taking a handoff and speed-bursting up the middle for a game-breaking run, sprinting to the perimeter on a jet sweep or throwing a touchdown pass on the run, he leaves loops and flowing lines all over the field.
The incoming Belle Vernon senior is one of the 25 players selected to the TribLive HSSN preseason team and for good reason.
Fearless and gifted, Whitlock simply is fun to watch.
“The No. 1 thing you see with Dev is his athleticism,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “But man, the toughness this kid possesses. He’ll go against anyone, and it doesn’t matter if they’re bigger than he is. He loves the challenge.”
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Whitlock recently pulled in a scholarship offer from Youngstown State and hopes more Division I attention follows. But he is putting recruiting slightly on the back burner as he pursues WPIAL greatness.
“It will all work itself out,” he said of college. “We want to kick down the door. It comes down to, how much do you want it? (A WPIAL semifinal loss to Aliquippa last season) was one of the toughest losses I have been a part of. We put so much into that run.”
The shifty Whitlock is expected to play quarterback again, but with Humbert working out some younger players to play under center, such as sophomore Brandon Laux, Whitlock could join stud sophomore Quinton Martin on the edge as a pass-catching threat or he could line up in the backfield.
In short, Humbert has options.
“It’s a conscious objective to get the ball into the hands of the kid who can make plays,” Humbert said. “But you also want to spread it out and not focus it all on one kid. We won’t just be a two-pronged team. We have other guys that will be solid for us, too.”
Whitlock can help the Leopards score points, but don’t expect them to swing for the fences on every possession.
Patience could be what leads to the big plays. Even snakes wait sometimes before they strike.
“We want to be multiple,” Humbert said. “It’s not all up-tempo. What we do is going to be based on situations.”
Whitlock averaged 203.6 all-purpose yards last season. He rushed for 1,082 yards and 15 touchdowns and threw for 528 yards.
Defensively, he also made splash plays. He had five interceptions, three he returned for touchdowns. Throw in two punt-return scores for good measure, and his full range of talent is clear.
Humbert knows what he has offensively with guys like Whitlock and Martin but is anxious to see if his defense can reach its potential.
“We return our linebackers, and we want to do some different things with our defensive ends,” the coach said. “And our secondary should be pretty strong, too. We’re excited to see what they can do.”
Whitlock likes the fabric of his team.
“We’re a family,” he said. “We’re close and we all want to win.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
Tags: Belle Vernon
More High School Football• Springdale’s Logan Dexter puts latest injury behind him, eyes big senior year
• Greensburg Central Catholic’s Blahovec commits to Youngstown State
• After committing to Penn State, Perry’s Tyreese Fearbry decides to re-open his recruitment
• Anthony Speca, Quinton Martin named to MaxPreps sophomore preseason All-America team
• Penn Hills youth football organization marks 75th anniversary with new technology