WPIAL standouts get all-star football treatment in Dallas

Thursday, January 13, 2022 | 6:18 PM

Brock White Jr. knows what it is like to suit up for a football game at Dallas’ AT&T Stadium, nicknamed “Jerry World” after Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

The Highlands senior played in the Bret Cooper Junior Academic All-American Bowl as an eighth grader in late 2017.

Now, four years later, White returns to Dallas in hopes of making an impact in front of dozens of college coaches as part of the Dream All-American Bowl and National Showcase.

“This is such a great opportunity to show what I can do,” said White, who overcame a knee injury over the summer to post strong numbers for the Golden Rams this fall in their run to a WPIAL Class 4A playoff spot out of the Greater Allegheny Conference. “Not a lot of people get the chance to go play football at ‘Jerry World.’

“I am really excited for this. It was a lot of fun to play in that Bret Cooper game, and I made a lot of good friends. I am looking forward to doing that again.”

White won’t be the only WPIAL product to attend the weekend of events, which include a showcase similar to the NFL Combine and a 7-on-7 shootout, both Saturday, and Monday’s all-star game.

White will team up with Armstrong senior defensive lineman Jewlius Barnes on a team coached by former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Joe Horn.

They will oppose North Catholic senior linebacker Kyle Tipinski on a team coached by former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Ratcliff Thomas.

Eighty seniors from all over the country were picked for the all-star weekend and split up between two teams.

Highlands assistant coach Marcus Williams, a scouting director for the Dream Scouting Network, will serve as an assistant on Thomas’ staff.

“This is a pretty cool opportunity to play one more high school game with and against some great players from all over the country,” said Barnes, who earned Greater Allegheny Conference first-team honors on defense as the River Hawks finished the 2021 season 8-4 overall, went 5-2 in conference play and made it to the Class 4A quarterfinals.

“I want to perform well and get my name out there more.”

Barnes, who takes classes in culinary arts at Lenape Technical School in Ford City, already has earned academic acceptance to both Washington & Jefferson and Duquesne with the hopes of studying business.

He began his high school football career at Freeport before transferring to Armstrong prior to his junior year.

The showcase features combine testing and positional work on both offense and defense. The participants then will form teams for the 7-on-7 shootout.

“I just have to leave it all out there on the field and give it my best,” said White, who already has garnered interest in and attention from schools such as Yale, Baylor, Youngstown State, Slippery Rock and Cal (Pa.).

In addition to the showcase and all-star game, the players will come together and attend Sunday afternoon’s NFC Divisional playoff game between Dallas and San Francisco.

“The goal is to give these student-athletes the best chance to find the right college fit for them,” said Williams, as Highlands graduate who went on to play semi-pro football with the Pittsburgh Pride.

“I love coaching and being around the game. I played from the time I was 5 until I was 23, and I know what it is like to want to make a name for yourself.”

Scouting directors from all over the country identify high school talent and recommend them to a national committee that selects the all-star participants.

Highlands graduates Kaleb White, Jeremiah Saunders and Jeremiah Nelson took part in the inaugural Dream All-American Bowl last year in Gulf Shore, Ala.

Freeport junior Ben Lane was selected to take part in the Rising Stars game right before the Dream All-American Bowl. However, according to a PIAA rule, Lane would lose his senior year of eligibility at Freeport if he played in Monday’s game.

“It was a huge opportunity for me, and it’s frustrating that I can’t play in the game and be in front of a lot of scouts and college coaches,” Lane said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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