WPIAL connections lead Gateway defensive back Shane Thrift to Delaware

Monday, June 22, 2020 | 9:48 PM

Shane Thrift hasn’t visited Delaware’s campus yet, but he’s confident he’ll feel comfortable there.

The Blue Hens already have seven former WPIAL athletes on the football roster, so Thrift decided to join them. The 6-foot, 170-pound defensive back and wide receiver announced his commitment Monday.

“There are a lot of 412 players already up there,” said Thrift, who’ll be a Gateway senior in the fall. “They reached out to me and said it’s a good school. Said I’ll like it. Said it’s a good family environment. With the ties between Delaware and here, it’s going to feel like home.”

The coronavirus pandemic has kept recruits from taking campus visits, so that comfort level put Thrift’s mind at ease.

Along with offers from Wagner and William & Mary, he was drawing interest from FBS programs, but saw no reason to delay. Even if another team comes calling later, he said he’s solidly committed to Delaware.

“Delaware has been recruiting me for a while now,” Thrift said. “They’ve been showing me the best interest. They made me feel wanted. I had a lot of schools recruiting me. I had (Power 5) schools, MAC schools, but they weren’t showing me the same interest as Delaware.”

An FCS program in the CAA, Delaware is coached by Danny Rocco, a Central Pennsylvania native. The team went 5-7 last year after consecutive winning seasons.

Thrift’s primary position is cornerback, but his versatility could let him play safety when needed. He’s optimistic that flexibility gets him into the lineup sooner.

“That’s one of the big factors,” Thrift said. “They said I could come play right away. They run six DBs on the field. That’s going to give me a chance.”

There are three WPIAL defensive backs already on Delaware’s spring roster: South Fayette’s Noah Plack, Steel Valley’s Amonte Strothers and Washington’s Daniel Walker. Also on the team are Hempfield’s Braden Brose, South Fayette’s Ryan Coe, Washington’s Isaiah Schoonmaker and West Allegheny’s Mateo Vandamia.

All seven will be sophomores or redshirt sophomores in the fall. Plack was the team’s second-leading tackler in 2019.

“I know some of the guys personally,” said Thrift, who’s the younger brother of former Gateway standout Brenon Thrift.

As a junior, Shane Thrift made 30 tackles and two interceptions last season when Gateway won the WPIAL Class 5A title. He played his first two high school seasons at Seton LaSalle and had five interceptions as a sophomore, one he returned 36 yards for a touchdown.

Gateway’s football team resumed offseason workouts last week once the school board approved a covid-19 plan for athletics. Thrift wanted to make his college decision before his senior season.

The NCAA recruiting calendar has a dead period through July because of the coronavirus. Once that ends, Thrift plans to visit the campus.

“I’m going to try to get up there in August,” he said. “If not, then I’ll get up there for a game.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.


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