PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Aliquippa has a long history of producing elite talent, and junior defensive back Marlin “MJ” Devonshire Jr. aims to be the next great Quip to come out of the small school powerhouse.
A Rivals four-star prospect, Devonshire is being pursued by several Big 10 schools, including Ohio State, Michigan State, and Indiana. West Virginia, who has recently built a pipeline to Aliquippa and was the first school to offer, is also in the mix for his services.
Despite his four-star rating, Devonshire’s recruitment has barely drawn any local fanfare, because he’s yet to receive a scholarship offer from Pitt. Penn State, who has also shown interest, has yet to extend an offer either.
All of that could change following his performance Sunday at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in Columbus, Ohio. Devonshire was named the camp’s defensive back MVP, beating out several other notable recruits for the honor. It further cements his status as one of the WPIAL’s top recruits for the Class of 2019, a lofty goal he has been pursuing since watching former Aliquippa grad and current West Virginia safety Dravon Askew-Henry as a youngster.
“Growing up guys like Dravon, who were always standouts on this side of the state, that was something I always wanted to be,” Devonshire said. “I always wanted to be like that. To have that feeling is like having all your hard work paying off to be in that situation.”
Devonshire closely studied the way Askew-Henry carried himself in an Aliquippa uniform, and the younger defensive back has fully embraced his status as a role model within the program.
“Being from Aliquippa, every kid looks up to somebody,” Devonshire said. “I looked up to Dra [Dravon], he had to look up to somebody, and it’s always that one little kid that’s going to look up to you.”
— Rivals Camp Series (@RivalsCamp) May 6, 2018
“So you’ve always got to mind your P’s and Q’s. You can’t walk around making mistakes, and you’ve got to be a good role model, not only on the field but also off it. You’ve got to have the grades and be a nice person in the community, because there’s always someone looking up to you, that is going to want to be like you. So you’ve got set a good example for them.”
Devonshire has checked in at Syracuse and Indiana this spring, and he made it clear that relationships will determine his college decision.
“Most of the time when I go on these visits I look for the people, who I’m going to be around for the next couple years,” Devonshire said. “Everywhere you go, especially when you come from a place like Aliquippa, every school is going to have great facilities, great uniforms, stuff like that. So you have to look at the people you’re going to be around.”
“You have to know and trust the people you’re going to be around. You have to know that they have your best interest at heart. To help you be successful, they’re going to want to help you be successful after college and after football.”
For any fans wondering if Devonshire’s former Aliquippa teammate Kwaintel Raines is attempting to sway his decision, the answer might surprise you.
“Not really because he knows the importance of going where you feel is best and what’s best for you,” Devonshire said of Raines. “He’s not one of those guys. He wants me to play with him, but at the same time, if West Virginia isn’t the best decision, he wouldn’t want to force it on me.”
“He always tells me what to look for when I go places, he helps me with checking rosters, and small things about people, because most of the schools I’m being recruited by recruited him. He’s definitely a big help.”