WPIAL position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the linebackers

By:
Sunday, August 18, 2019 | 5:19 PM


The top linebackers in the WPIAL and City League always include some of the area’s best all-around athletes.

They often are two-way players who are standout stars on defense and also make an impact on offense. For instance, Aliquippa’s Zuriah Fisher caught a touchdown and a pair of 2-point conversions last season as the Quips’ tight end, and his hard-hitting presence at middle linebacker helped them celebrate WPIAL and state titles.

Peters Township’s Corban Hondru caught 12 passes and a touchdown last season. Gateway’s Tui Brown had nine catches and also scored once, and his teammate, linebacker Derrick Davis, who counts Alabama among his college offers, was ranked as our No. 1 running back this year.

Finding them time to rest often becomes the challenge for coaches.

This year’s linebacker group again is deep with nearly two dozen all-conference players returning from last season.

Fisher, who tops this list, is ranked by Rivals as the 10th-best prospect in Pennsylvania from the 2020 class.

1. Zuriah Fisher

Aliquippa

Senior, 6-3, 220

Fisher was one of the leading tacklers on a dominant Aliquippa defense that won WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A titles last season. He had 72 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and four sacks. The inside linebacker also intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble. He has offers from Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia, along with Ball State, Boston College, Bowling Green, Indiana, Kent State, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, N.C. State, Ohio, Purdue, Temple, Texas A&M, Toledo, Syracuse, UMass and Virginia Tech.

2. Tui Brown

Gateway

Senior, 6-3, 215

Brown is a versatile defender who can rush the quarterback or drop into coverage. He earned all-conference honors at tight end last season, but he’s also a disruptive force as an outside linebacker in Gateway’s defense. He lists offers from Akron, Air Force, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Delaware State, Duquesne, Kent State, Navy, Ohio, Robert Morris, Toledo, UMass and William & Mary.

3. Justin Johns

Franklin Regional

Senior, 6-1, 230

The middle linebacker could break Franklin Regional’s career tackles record if his senior season matches his junior year. The fourth-year starter made 122 tackles last season, giving him 252 for his career. The record is 368 by Bryce Lauer. Johns lists an offer from Air Force.

4. Michael Snowden

University Prep

Senior, 6-2, 195

The City League hasn’t produced quite as many Division I recruits in recent seasons, but this year’s senior class has several outstanding athletes. Snowden, who committed to Akron in June, is one of them. He also plays running back.

5. Corban Hondru

Peters Township

Junior, 6-1, 225

The inside linebacker made 67 tackles as a sophomore, including seven sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He earned all-conference honors in the Class 5A Allegheny Eight. He has offers from Akron and Dartmouth.

ONE TO WATCH

Nico Flati

West Allegheny

Junior, 5-10, 180

The outside linebacker made 62 tackles as a sophomore last season for the WPIAL Class 5A runner-up. The two-way standout also played running back late in the season. In the semifinal victory over Gateway, Flati had 137 yards rushing and scored four touchdowns. He also made five tackles in the victory.

POSITION BREAKDOWNS

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 [email protected] or via Twitter .

click me