TribHSSN Preseason WPIAL Football All-Star team: Nick Bryan, Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | 7:35 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 July 22 during HSSN Media Day at Kennywood Park.

A long-standing tradition of the renowned Thomas Jefferson football program is the dominating play of its offensive line.

It rightfully could be labeled as the cornerstone of the Jaguars’ winning tradition over the years.

TJ coach Bill Cherpak, a former standout lineman at Steel Valley and Pitt, pays particular attention to the players on the offensive line.

He anticipates guiding another dominant group this season, led by 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior Nick Bryan, a dynamic offensive/defensive tackle.

“We expect Nick to be one of the team leaders and a role model for our younger players,” Cherpak said. “We expect our offensive and defensive lines to be one of the strengths of our team this year.”

One thing is certain: Bryan’s work ethic is second to none.

“I pride myself on being tough and regimented,” he said.

During the school year, Bryan trained and lifted weights three days a week from 4:30 to 6 a.m., then added two days of workouts on the weekends, focusing on his strength, speed and agility.

His schedule actually has ramped up for the summer months.

“I keep the same pretty strict routine,” Bryan said. “I lift Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 4:30 in the morning. Then, Monday and Wednesday are football practice days from 6 to 8:30. Tuesdays and Thursdays, we condition and lift as a team from 9 a.m. to noon.

“On Saturday, I do speed and agility work from 2 to 3. And finally on Sunday, I do a strength workout from 10 a.m. to noon.

“My strength comes from speed and agility and my ability to get leverage over other players with my arm length and hand size. I pride myself on having an old school, gritty lineman mentality.”

A two-time state champion, Bryan started at tackle on both sides of the line in 2021, helping spur the Jaguars to WPIAL and PIAA championships in Class 4A.

He was touted as a first-team all-conference selection on offense, named to the PA Football News Coaches 4A all-state team and chosen to the Mon Valley Independent Finest 30 all-star team.

“The expectation this year is to be the first three-time state champ in TJ (football) history,” Bryan said. “Being a leader on my team is one of my biggest goals, and I want to finish the season healthy.”

Bryan made a verbal commitment June 26 to continue his football career at Kent State. He made two football related visits to the Kent State campus, plus one for academics.

The diligent TJ gridder plans to major in elementary education with a minor in history and projects to play on the interior for the Golden Flashes.

“I felt at home with the coaches there, and I feel like they have a very strong plan for me,” Bryan said. “And I was able to meet a few of the players throughout my time being recruited.”

On the recruiting front, Bryan had a busy and sometimes hectic offseason. Along with Kent State and his other finalist, UMass, he landed offers from Old Dominion, Marshall, Holy Cross, The Citadel, Army, Fordham, Lehigh, Austin Peay, Duquesne and Ball State.

“I’m fortunate to be recruited by such prestigious programs,” Bryan said.

Nick Bryan

Thomas Jefferson




Committed to: Kent State

Division I offers: Army, Austin Peay, Ball State, Duquesne, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lehigh, Marshall, Old Dominion, The Citadel, UMass


More Football

8 WPIAL all-stars selected for 67th annual Big 33 Football Classic
Burrell football coach Shawn Liotta named general manager for USA Football U20 team
WPIAL reveals Aliquippa’s 5A conference, but football coach says ‘it’s not settled’
WPIAL says Butler football must take conference schedule, reviving years-long dispute
Drive to improve, helpful mentors lead Franklin Regional grad to Division I football