When considering the top football prospects in the WPIAL for the class of 2017, there are a select group of players that are garnering attention as national caliber recruits.
Players like Central Catholic’s David Adams, Kurt Hinish and C.J. Thorpe, Clairton’s Lamont Wade, along with Steel Valley standout and Pitt commit Paris Ford are among the local talent that have become household names in recruiting.
Beyond that group of highly regarded prospects there are a number of WPIAL players who are catching the attention of college coaches who understand that rankings are important, but so is finding that diamond in the rough that can make an impact for their program.
One of those players is New Castle’s Geno Stone. A multi-sport standout who carries a 3.7 GPA in the classroom, Stone is considered one of the top football players in the WPIAL. With a number of Power Five football programs showing increasing interest in Stone as a defensive back, it might just be a matter of time until the offers begin to roll in.
We had a chance to sit down and talk to Stone about a number of topics including his recent Junior Day visit to Pitt, what programs are getting in touch, and how his role as a key player on the Hurricanes top-ranked basketball program recently brought him closer to another local two-sport star.
Pittsburgh Sports Now-You had a big year as a junior this past season which has put you in the spotlight as another potential D1 recruit from the WPIAL. How’s that process coming together and what schools are showing interest so far?
Geno Stone-I’d say the heaviest interest right now is from Penn State-they’ve been talking to me quite a bit. Pitt has been showing some interest, Duke has started coming around and I have been getting letters from Iowa State. I’ve also been contacted by Temple, UMass, Bowling Green, Delaware and Holy Cross has been showing a lot of interest since my sophomore year.
PSN-Watching your Hudl highlight tape was impressive-It shows a player who is dominant on both sides of the ball along with displaying the ability to be a difference maker as a return man. Have schools given you an idea what side of the ball they are recruiting you to play?
GS-Most of the schools that have talked to me seem to like me on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive back.
PSN-Do you prefer playing defense?
GS-Absolutely, I love playing defense because I can hit people.
PSN-You recently were among a group of players invited to Junior Day at the University of Pittsburgh. What can you tell our readers about the experience?
GS-It was a great experience. I never really had a chance to explore Pittsburgh like that. I really liked the new facilities and love what Coach Narduzzi is doing down there. I felt like I was at home there and like my whole family is from there so it was where I wanted to be.
PSN-Many of the invitees were WPIAL recruits like yourself. How was the experience of getting to spend some time with those guys and did you get to know some of them a little better?
GS-I actually sat next to Mitch DeZort for the game and we mainly talked about basketball the entire time. We both are big into hoops and both of our teams are in the WPIAL playoffs. Our teams might end up meeting up depending on how things shake out.
I talk to Paris (Ford) quite a bit. We got to know each other at Pitt’s 7 on 7 and we keep in touch all the time.
PSN-I know I keep hitting you with football questions, but your basketball team is having an incredible year and is one of the favorites to win the WPIAL AAA championship this year. It must be a fun ride for you?
GS-Yes, we are 22-1 right now and top-ranked in the WPIAL and fourth in the state. We play in the quarterfinals tomorrow and if we win we might see Mitch (DeZort) and Highlands in the semis which would be a fun game.
PSN-Getting back to football, Coach Narduzzi and his staff have made it clear that the WPIAL is going to be the top priority in recruiting. Did you get that vibe on your recent visit?
GS-Definitely. When I went there I wasn’t sure that the all the coaches even knew my name but they all did. Coach (Rob) Harley has been coming in to see me since last year and Coach (Renaldo) Hill recently came to one of my basketball games. It’s definitely cool to see the coaches keeping in touch.
PSN-How about Coach Narduzzi? What was your impression of him after spending some time with him?
GS-Oh he’s a great coach and he’s one of those coaches that keep it real with you. He was really cool to be around-sometimes you can get bad vibes about a coach but I did not feel that way with him at all.
PSN-It’s still relative early in the process and there is more schools showing interest in you every day. Specific to Pitt, have they given you any idea of what it might take to get that coveted offer from the Panthers and what would an offer mean to you?
GS-I think Pitt wants to see me at more camps and see how things progress. For me to get an offer from Pitt? It would be great-it’s one of the schools I’m interested in for the academics. It’s also close to home and I’d prefer to stay closer to home.
PSN-I know that you are still in season for basketball obviously, but once it’s time to get ready for your senior year, how are you going to prepare so schools start giving you offers?
GS-One of the biggest things will be to go to camps where I know there will be coaches from the programs I’m most interested in will be attending. I am also going to work hard with my personal trainer and run track in the Spring.
PSN-As someone who loves the defensive side of the ball and loves to hit people, do you have a favorite player or someone you emulate your game after?
GS-I always loved Brian Dawkins but now the guy I try to be like is definitely Kam Chancellor. I try to hit like Kam Chancellor and be a ball hawk like Josh Norman.
PSN-You excel in the classroom and many of the schools expressing interest in you are known for being strong in academics. Beyond football, when you ultimately choose a school, what might you choose for a major?
GS-I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things. Maybe the Chemistry field, Physical Therapy or even Accounting or Sports Management. Really right now I’m still trying to figure all that out.