Westmoreland high school notebook: Power-5 offer could be 1st of many for Jeannette’s Birch
Sunday, February 21, 2021 | 5:09 PM
Oregon assistant football coach Joe Moorhead called Team 412 Elite coach Will Reynolds on Wednesday, and Reynolds turned it into a conference call.
He called Jeannette freshman quarterback Brad Birch on another cellphone and let him hear the good news from Moorhead, a Central Catholic grad and former Penn State offensive coordinator.
With Moorhead as its conduit, Oregon offered Birch a scholarship. Just like that, the wheels were set in motion.
A long and competitive recruiting sweepstakes could be ahead as schools look to land the budding quarterback. The first offer usually leads to many more.
“My phone was going crazy,” Birch said. “I got like 20 calls and 500 texts. It was a good day to remember.”
Penn State, Kentucky and Arizona State also have inquired about Birch.
WPIAL football fans will follow Birch’s progress with great interest after he landed a Power-5 offer as a ninth-grader, from a Pac-12 school no less.
The last Westmoreland County player to get an offer from that conference was Terrelle Pryor. The Jayhawks great also had an offer from Oregon, among the dozens that came pouring in as his career began to take shape around 2005.
But Pryor did not get his first Division I offer until his junior season. Pitt offered him for basketball during his sophomore year, and he accepted. But football soon took the mic, and the rest is history for Pryor, who went on to star at Ohio State and play in the NFL.
Birch, the first freshman to start for Jeannette at quarterback, threw for more than 1,600 yards and 30 touchdowns in his rookie season.
“I am not surprised,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said of Birch’s initial offer. “Just remember, we’ve never had a freshman start here at quarterback, and we’ve had some great athletes. So that should just tell everyone you don’t have to be at a big school to get big-time offers.”
Hail to … Belle Vernon?
Could a football pipeline be opening between Belle Vernon and Pitt? It appears to be happening.
Two recent Belle Vernon alums already play at Pitt in lineman Blake Zubovic and kicker/punter Cameron Guess.
Leopards fans will remember hulking star lineman Dorian Johnson, perhaps the most notable Belle Vernon alum who went on to start four years for the Panthers. To the current crop of talent in Rostraver: Pitt already has offered a scholarship to freshman Quinton Martin, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound running back, receiver and defensive back. And the Panthers recently extended a preferred walk-on offer to senior running back Dane Anden.
Pitt also is showing interest in standout junior Devin Whitlock, a do-it-all athlete who played quarterback last season and shined on both sides of the ball.
Old Dominion, Youngstown State, The Citadel and Robert Morris also have inquired about Whitlock, who accounted for 1,629 all-purpose yards last season, scored 20 touchdowns three ways and have five interceptions, three of which he returned for scores.
“We think Devin is the caliber of player who can play at that level,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert saif of Pitt. “It’s nice to see Pitt recruiting the backyard as hard as they have — not just at Belle Vernon.”
As for Martin, Humbert thinks the Pitt offer is just the beginning.
“He has a bright future,” he said. “If he continues to progress, more Pitts are going to come out of the woodwork.”
Lehigh comes calling
Lehigh is making its rounds in the WPIAL as it looks for football talent.
The Patriot League program located in Bethlehem is particularly eyeing Westmoreland County.
Lehigh this weekend extended scholarship offers to a pair of local juniors in Greensburg Salem lineman Billy McChesney and Penn-Trafford running back/defensive back Cade Yacamelli.
The Mountain Hawks recently secured a commitment from Latrobe senior tight end/ linebacker Tucker Knupp.
Christian Jablonski, a freshman defensive lineman from Ligonier Valley, plays at Lehigh.
Hempfield senior Mario Perkins announced he will continue his football career at Walsh University, a Division II program in North Canton, Ohio. Perkins played running back and linebacker for the Spartans.
• Franklin Regional senior running back and linebacker Colton Johns will play his college football at John Carroll, a D-III program in University Heights, Ohio. He also had an offer from Juniata and a potential preferred walk-on opportunity with Robert Morris.
• Jordan Stein, a two-time all-section volleyball player from Norwin, will play at Waynesburg.
• Mt. Pleasant seniors Lucas Toohey and Tyler Salvatore will play soccer at the same college program. They are headed to Westminster.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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