During the month of August and leading up to the kickoff of the high school football season, PSN will profile some of the top players in the WPIAL. These player previews and our 2018 High School Football coverage is sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts of Pittsburgh, proud sponsors of high school football in Western Pennsylvania.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Aliquippa football is loaded again.
And for the second straight season, the Quips boast one of the top defensive backs in the country.
Senior cornerback MJ Devonshire Jr., a Rivals four-star recruit, headlines a deep and talented squad that aims for an 11th straight trip to Heinz Field under first-year head coach Mike Warfield.
Devonshire Jr. currently holds offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia among others. The Buckeyes and Mountaineers are widely considered the leaders for his services.
Last year, it was teammate Kwantel Raines’ recruitment that captivated local audiences. Now, Devonshire Jr. steps into the spotlight, and although he has played his recruitment close to the vest, his play on the field speaks volumes.
Back in May, he captured MVP honors at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in Columbus, Ohio, beating out several other notable defensive backs for the award. The performance cemented his status as the WPIAL’s top recruit, and he enters the season ranked second overall in the state of Pennsylvania according to the recruiting service.
He’s lightening-quick, having won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the WPIAL Championships this spring. His length allows him to match-up against bigger receivers, and his instincts earn high grades. In addition to running track and playing basketball, Devonshire Jr. spent several hours in the weight room preparing for his final season. With the Week Zero kickoff rapidly approaching, he’s eager to get back on the field.
“I’m always excited for football, but this year is special because it’s the last time playing with my friends,” Devonshire Jr. said.
A new season means a chance to wash away the bad taste left from end of 2017. The Quips fell 2-0 to Quaker Valley in the Class 3A championship game. Aliquippa outgained the Quakers 180-55 but fumbled twice and committed 20 penalties.
“I get stopped in Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, it doesn’t matter, people always remind me we lost 2-0,” Devonshire Jr. said of the game. “It’s just a reminder every day when you go workout or go to practice that you’ve won nothing. So I’ve had to walk around with that on my back.”
Despite playing for a new head coach, Devonshire Jr. said the expectations have not changed.
“It’s still the same goals as every other year,” Devonshire Jr. said. “Win the conference, win WPIALs, and win state. Those goals stay the same.”
As for his recruitment, fans can expect to wait for his decision. He originally planned to make an announcement before the season started, but that’s no longer the case.
“I don’t want to rush it and make the wrong choice,” Devonshire Jr. said.