Westmoreland County high school notebook: Franklin Regional cornerback pops up on Division I radar

Saturday, June 15, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Jaymier Austin transferred to Franklin Regional when he was a freshman, leaving Penn Hills to play at another WPIAL Class 5A program.

“It’s felt like home ever since,” Austin said.

While the scenery changed, the expectations did not. Colleges probably would have found the budding football prospect wherever he played.

A rising junior, Austin suddenly is a Division I candidate and a potential key playmaker for the Panthers.

In the past week, he has obtained scholarship offers from Purdue, Youngstown State and Marshall, with all three schools recruiting him as a defensive back.

He also plays wide receiver.

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this coming at all, but I’m sure God did, though,” Austin said. “I’m surprised not about getting recruited, but how much these college coaches believe in me.”

Schools like Austin’s size — he is 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds — which is a nice sidecar to his speed.

“Jay has the potential to be as good at corner as anyone I have ever coached,” Franklin Regional coach Lance Getsy said. “He has great length and speed. The more reps that he gets, the better he will become. Jay does an excellent job taking away a receiver and is really starting to understand his route reads.

“I’m excited to see what him and Elijah Bennett can do this year at the corner position for us.”

Last season as a sophomore, Austin had 27 pass breakups, 23 solo tackles and an interception.

He said college coaches like his game film.

“The schools that are recruiting me all love my height, physical (play) and my versatile skills and how fast I am for my size,” he said.

Positive energy

Positive Athlete Western Pennsylvania announced its 2024 award winners from the WPIAL, and a number of Westmoreland County athletes were among them.

In all, 29 athletes were recognized. They were nominated by their schools for their positive attitude, work ethic and determination.

“Every one of them is unique, and every one of them gives us so much joy to be able to read and see what the kids are doing in their schools and communities,” Positive Athlete president and CEO Scott Pederson said. “Every school, all over Western Pennsylvania, these kids are so amazing.”

The local winners included Antolena Damico of Penn-Trafford (golf), Griffin Bartos of Norwin (lacrosse), Morgan Reese of Mt. Pleasant (cheer/gymnastics), Sasha Hoffman of Greensburg Central Catholic (tennis), Carson Heinle of Kiski Area (multi-sport) and Tristan Brothers of Burrell (football).

Softball all-stars

Eleven players from Westmoreland County will represent the area in the inaugural Western PA Senior Softball All-Star Game set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Plum.

The local all-stars are Brookelyn Kotch, Bailey Snowberger and Josey Michalski of Norwin; Trinity Seibel of Kiski Area; Latrobe’s Kayla Williams; Gracie Sokol of Belle Vernon; Maddie Brown and Amarah McCutcheon of Southmoreland; Emma Scanlon of Mt. Pleasant; Greensburg Central Catholic’s Grace Kindel; and Makayla Spoonhoward of Yough.

Brown, McCutcheon, Kindel and Spoonhoward will play for Team Black, the rest for Team Gold.

Franklin Regional’s Jim Armstrong, who helped organize the game, will coach the Gold side, with Norwin assistant Ally Demonte in his dugout.

Lacrosse stars

Penn-Trafford had two players on the Class 2A All-WPIAL team. Sophia Green and Annabelle Aquino were among the 14 girls selected.

Chartiers Valley and Mars had three players on the list, while Penn-Trafford and South Fayette had two.


Penn-Trafford football player Tasso Whipple, a junior running back and outside linebacker, picked up an offer to play at Slippery Rock. Whipple (6-1, 190) ran for 1,388 yards and scored 17 touchdowns last season. He also made 67 tackles for the Warriors.

Latrobe rising senior basketball player Carley Berk picked up an offer to play at Division III Arcadia.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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