WASHINGTON — Pitt commits John Morgan and Judson Tallandier finished their high school career on Friday, as their Dematha Catholic team lost, 17-14 to the St. John’s College High School in the semifinals of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs.
It was a hard-fought game, with Morgan and Tallandier playing big roles as the Stags held the top-ranked Cadets to their lowest point total of the season, but fell just short of a berth in the championship game.
Here’s my observations from watching Morgan and Tallandier play live for the first time:
Morgan (6-foot-2, 236-pounds) is weak-side defensive end. He gets around the edge with some nice quickness and seemed to be able to finish well with at least two sacks against a tall, strong quarterback (former Pitt target Kevin Doyle, ironically.) He’ll probably need to put on some weight to hold up at the point of attack as defensive lineman in the ACC. He has the speed to play linebacker, but he wasn’t used much in coverage. He’s also listed as a tight end, but I didn’t see him on offense.
“I’m a pass-rush specialist,” Morgan said. “It’s hard-nosed, downhill, something that I play here at Dematha and something that I look forward to playing at Pitt.”
Tallandier (6-foot-2, 180-pounds) is a shut-down corner. If you think Pitt’s corner have been left on an island a lot the past three years, you’d probably be appalled at the amount of Cover 0 Dematha plays, meaning Tallandier is often playing legit man-to-man on the outside. He’s extremely physical at the point of attack (he took a personal foul late hit on an iffy call) and also did a good job of battling for the ball in the air. He had a critical first-half pass breakup in the end zone.
“To go up a good receiver and just put me on an island, it’s just pushed me to another level because [the coaches] trust me,” Tallandier said.
NEXT STOP: PITT
With the Stags’ exit from the playoffs, the next time Morgan and Tallandier suit up together will be for the Panthers, and though both were clearly wistful about the end of their high schools careers, they’re equally excited about their future.
“Finding out this was my last game as a Stag, it’s something that I’ll just have to look back at all my memories and just thank God that I was able to play here,” Morgan said.
The Hyattsville, Maryland native said he’ll be able to take “hard work, dedication, being a gentleman and a scholar” to Pitt from his time at Dematha.
“Unfortunately, this is my last game with a Dematha uniform on, but I am ready for the next level,” Tallandier said. “When I get there, I’m trying to do great things. I’m ready. … I feel like as the season went on, I’ve progressed in everything that I’ve been taught,” Tallandier said. “I had ups and downs, but I feel like this was one of my best games yet and I feel like I can just go up from here.”
Morgan and Tallandier, friends since middle school, had talked about playing together at the next level. But it wasn’t until fairly late in the process that it became a potential reality.
“We didn’t really say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to go together in the beginning,’ but everything worked out,” Tallandier said. “That’s pretty much my guy. He’s one of my best friends. I know him like the back of my hand. Going up there, I’ll have someone I can be comfortable with, just grinding together and doing great things.”
They both had similar things to say about what they liked about Pittsburgh.
“The city of Pittsburgh is just a great place to be,” Tallandier said. “I feel like I can maximize my opportunities by being there.”
“Pittsburgh is a different type of city” Morgan said. “It’s just a football atmosphere.”
The Sports Now network is growing! Check out our new site PittsburghHockeyNow.com for the best Pittsburgh Penguins news and opinion.