WPIAL position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the defensive linemen

Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 6:16 PM

Some years it’s at cornerback. Sometimes it’s the linebackers.

This year, the largest collection of WPIAL and City League star power could be at defensive line.

Westinghouse’s Dayon Hayes, Central Catholic’s A.J. Beatty and Elliot Donald and West Mifflin’s Nahki Johnson have major-college offers from across the country.

Among Pennsylvania recruits, Hayes and Beatty are ranked third and fourth overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com. Donald is fourth in the 2021 class, and Johnson is ranked ninth. All are labeled three- or four-star prospects.

But the position depth runs much deeper than those four.

Beatty and Donald alone are part of a Central Catholic defensive line that has four Division I recruits. Twin brothers A’maar and A’meer Allen are the others.

In all, the WPIAL returns nearly two dozen defensive linemen who earned first-team all-conference honors last season.

1. Dayon Hayes


Senior, 6-3, 240

Twenty-six sacks. That’s how many Hayes was credited with last season. Now a senior, he is poised to wreak havoc across the City League again this fall. Hayes, who committed to Pitt, is the most coveted recruit from the city in many years. His long list of scholarship offers includes Penn State and West Virginia, along with Ball State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Howard, Illinois, Indiana, Kent State, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Navy, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Texas A&M, Toledo, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, William & Mary, Youngstown State and Wisconsin.

Watch Dayon Hayes highlights

2. A.J. Beatty

Central Catholic

Senior, 6-5, 260

Beatty became a two-way starter at the beginning of last season and earned second-team all-conference honors at tight end. But it is his talent as a defensive end that led more than 40 Division I schools to recruit him. Beatty committed in June to North Carolina. He chose the Tar Heels over offers from West Virginia, Central Florida, N.C. State, Purdue, South Carolina and Maryland. His list also included Pitt, Stanford, Syracuse and others.

Watch A.J. Beatty highlights

3. George Padezanin


Senior, 6-3, 280

Padezanin earned first-team all-conference honors as an offensive and defensive tackle last season. But he was so disruptive on defense that coaches in the Class 4A Northwest Eight voted him as the conference’s Defensive MVP. He has two dozen offers from FBS and FCS schools, including Akron, Ball State, Duquesne, Rhode Island and others. His list also includes offers from all eight Ivy League schools.

Watch George Padezanin highlights

4. Nahki Johnson

West Mifflin

Junior, 6-3, 220

Johnson was first-team all-conference at Steel Valley last season when the Ironmen won the WPIAL Class 2A title. He committed in June to Pitt over offers from Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Iowa State, Mississippi State and Syracuse, among others. He transferred to West Mifflin in December and almost missed his junior season after the WPIAL ruled him ineligible. The PIAA overturned that decision this summer.

Watch Nahki Johnson highlights

5. Fintan Brose


Senior, 6-3, 285

Brose earned second-team all-conference honors on offense, but his ability to avoid blocks makes him a disruptive defensive end. He committed in July to Delaware, where his brother, Braden, plays tight end. Brose had more than 20 offers, including Air Force, Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Florida International, Navy, Ohio, UMass, Tulane and Vanderbilt.

Watch Fintan Brose highlights


Elliot Donald

Central Catholic

Junior, 6-2, 230

The only item missing from Donald’s resume is experience. The defensive tackle was worked into the lineup as a backup last season but will become a starter for the first time this fall. He already has become one of the state’s top recruits for 2021. He has 17 scholarship offers, including Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia, along with LSU, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others. His uncle is NFL star Aaron Donald.

Watch Elliot Donald highlights


QB | RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | CB | S | K

Top five coaching changes for 2019

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags: , , , ,

More High School Football

Uniontown hires Jeffries as football coach
After battling cancer, Freeport’s Garrett King eager to get back on field
Preston Zandier joins list of Thomas Jefferson Big 33 players
Gateway’s Holl looks forward to coaching in East-West all-star game
Inaugural Willie Thrower Award to honor football pioneer, recognize top WPIAL QB

click me