WPIAL football position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the wide receivers
By: Chris Harlan
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | 7:28 PM
Western Pennsylvania was known historically for producing hall of fame quarterbacks, a trend that shifted in recent decades to superstar defensive backs.
But nowadays, the WPIAL seems to be producing quite a few Division I wide receivers. Last season, the WPIAL sent wideouts to Pitt, Ball State, Kent State, Maryland, Syracuse and Western Michigan.
That trend continues this fall.
The WPIAL already has at least a half-dozen senior wide receivers with Division I scholarship offers. Two, Peters Township’s Josh Casilli (Penn) and North Allegheny’s Luke Colella (Princeton), already have committed to colleges.
Quarterbacks have seen their passing numbers boosted by the popularity of spread offenses and passing camps and so, too, have their receivers. There were eight players with more than 1,000 receiving yards last season and two dozen who made at least 40 catches.
1. Josh Casilli
Senior, 6-0, 180
The Penn commit is a speedy playmaker for the Indians, who reached the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals last season. Casilli had 880 yards on 50 receptions and scored 14 times. Twice he made seven catches in a game, including a 135-yard, two-touchdown outing against West Allegheny. He committed in July to the Ivy League school over offers from Duquesne, Robert Morris, Air Force, Cornell, Holy Cross, Rhode Island, Lafayette, Sacred Heart, Columbia, Maine, Albany, William & Mary, Youngstown State, UMass, Lehigh, Fordham and Dartmouth.
2. Deamontae Diggs
Senior, 6-6, 220
The tall, two-sport star can handle jumpballs in the end zone as well as he does on the basketball court. He had only 14 receptions last season for the run-heavy Tigers, but he averaged more than 30 yards per catch and seems poised for a bigger role this fall. He finished last year with 424 yards and two touchdowns. He has offers from Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Iowa State, Kent State and Youngstown State.
3. Johnny Crise
Senior, 6-6, 195
Crise also is a two-sport star, known as much for his dunks as his touchdown catches. But Crise showed his football skills last season with 41 receptions for 796 yards and 10 touchdowns. College coaches have taken notice, and he lists offers from Albany, Bryant, Duquesne, Fordham, Maine, Robert Morris and William & Mary.
4. Dan Deabner
Senior, 6-0, 175
Deabner was a favorite target of quarterback Shane Stump last season when the Jaguars reached the WPIAL Class 4A finals. He caught 59 passes for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He and Sto-Rox’s Ahmad Pack tied for sixth in receptions among WPIAL players last season and first among returning players. Deabner lists an offer from Valparaiso.
5. Tyler Padezan
Senior, 6-3, 185
A half-dozen college coaches already have offered Padezan, who provides big-play potential for East Allegheny’s offense. He had 39 catches for 867 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He showed his speed by returning a kickoff 85 yards to the end zone. Albany, Duquesne, Morgan State, Rhode Island, St. Francis (Pa.) and William & Mary have offered him scholarships.
ONE TO WATCH
Junior, 6-4, 215
Dinkins’ father Darnell was a City League star at Schenley and later played football for Pitt and in the NFL. The younger Dinkins, who has his father’s height, will play wide receiver and outside linebacker for North Allegheny. He scored twice as a sophomore, including an 80-yard catch-and-run touchdown. He lists offers from Akron and Toledo.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charla[email protected] or via Twitter .