WPIAL position-by-position breakdown: Scouting the tight ends
By: Chris Harlan
Thursday, August 15, 2019 | 7:58 PM
The traditional hand-on-the-ground tight end has disappeared from some offenses around Western Pennsylvania.
As high school offenses have evolved, so too has the position. But it’s clear the tight end position isn’t going extinct.
In fact, the WPIAL has sent quite a few tight ends to Division I colleges in the past few years. West Virginia has East Allegheny’s T.J. Banks. Pitt, Duquesne and Robert Morris all have tight ends with WPIAL roots. Delaware actually has two: Hempfield’s Braden Brose and West Allegheny’s Mateo Vandamia.
This year’s group is led by Woodland Hills senior Josh Rawlings, who’s one of the most recruited at the position in years.
Rawlings received more than 20 FBS scholarship offers and had options in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC and Big 12, before committing to Virginia.
Two other highly recruited seniors also play tight end: Central Catholic’s A.J. Beatty and Gateway’s Tui Brown. But both make an even bigger impact on defense.
1. Josh Rawlings
Senior, 6-5, 245
The Virginia recruit is Woodland Hills’ most talented tight end since Rob Gronkowski played for Wolverines in 2006. Rawlings had 15 catches for 220 yards and four touchdowns last season, numbers he seems poised to top this fall. He committed to Virginia in June over offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, East Carolina, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, Marshall, Maryland, Minnesota, UMass, Ohio, Syracuse, Temple, Toledo, Vanderbilt and Western Michigan.
2. Sean Banas
Senior, 6-2, 240
Banas was Chartiers Valley’s leading receiver last season with 25 catches for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He earned first-team all-conference honors in the Class 5A Allegheny Eight. The two-way standout also plays inside linebacker. He had 79 tackles and two forced fumbles last season. He lists an offer from Valparaiso.
3. Ryan Heckathorn
Senior, 6-3, 210
Heckathorn earned first-team all-conference honors at linebacker and honorable mention at tight end in the Class 4A Northwest Eight. He caught four touchdowns last season. His longest was an 80-yarder against Ambridge that saw him grab a jump ball at midfield and sprint to the end zone.
4. Tanner Krevokuch
Junior, 6-4, 205
Krevokuch provides a big target for quarterback Jack Salopek in the Knights’ passing attack. As a sophomore, Krevokuch caught 26 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. His best week was a seven-catch game against Mt. Lebanon.
5. Mitchell Wright
Senior, 6-0, 180
Wright’s strong blocking helped the Planets rush for 2,800 yards last season and earned him second-team all-conference honors in Class 5A. He caught five passes for 62 yards on a team that didn’t throw all that often (team leader had 12 catches).
ONE TO WATCH
Junior, 6-5, 235
Kiski Area likes to use a tight end in its passing game, and Dilts will provide the team a tall target. Troy Kuhn, who’s now at Duquesne, made 32 catches last season as Kiski’s tight end. The Cavaliers’ stadium is named after Dilts’ grandfather Dick, who won more than 200 games at Kiski Area before retiring in 1993.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .