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.
Joey Porter Jr. emerged as one of the WPIAL’s top talents last year despite missing three games to a wrist injury and making a significant jump in competition.
The son of former Steelers linebacker, Joey Porter, the youngest Porter is highly sought after by big-time Division I programs. 247 Sports ranks the North Allegheny senior as the top player in Pennsylvania, just ahead of Pine-Richland offensive lineman Andrew Kristofic. Porter Jr. recently narrowed his recruiting list to Pitt, Penn State, Miami, Nebraska and LSU.
PSN caught up with North Allegheny head coach Art Walker to get his opinion on the Tigers’ top player.
“He is such a long defensive back,” Walker said of Porter Jr. “When you play corner and you’re 6-foot-2, long arms, you can do a lot of different things, especially cover receivers that are a lot taller and a lot bigger. That’s why he’s getting looked at by so many places at the next level.”
“He has really, really good technique. He has recovery speed, he’s got very good ball skills, so when you combine all those things defensively, it definitely makes him attractive to a lot of schools.”
Porter Jr. intercepted seven passes last year, returned a fumble for a touchdown, and housed a punt for another score. Combine his playing making ability with his measurables, and it’s easy to see why schools from all over the country are pining for his services.
“He’s real important from the standpoint of he can take a guy away from you,” Walker said of Porter Jr.’s importance to a defensive scheme. “You have a lot of faith and confidence he can match up with someone’s best guy and do his best to eliminate something from the game plan. That means a lot.”
As wide receivers seemingly grow bigger, stronger, and faster, Porter Jr. is more than physically capable of holding his own. He excels in insolation and enables North Allegheny’s defense to take risks.
“You can do things coverage wise based on his ability, playing the backside of 3×1 sets, stuff like that, and trust he is going to get the job done,” Walker said. “Defensively, he does a lot of good things for us and enables things to be a little bit more aggressive.”
Porter Jr. transferred to North Allegheny from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic after his sophomore season, jumping from the state’s smallest classification to the largest. Walker praised his top player for working through early season struggles, and he believes a full offseason in the Tigers’ program will pay big dividends.
“He had to go through his growing pains last year,” Walker said of the transition. “But he came along and I thought he was playing his best football our last month. In the offseason, besides putting on some size and strength, just familiarity with the coaching staff and his teammates and what we’re doing on the field helped him a great deal.”
Expect Porter Jr. to see an expanded role on offense where he plays wide receiver. As Walker put its, “he’s a Division I talent so we’ve got use him.”
North Allegheny’s coach said the staff would monitor the usage of Porter Jr. to ensure it maximizes his ability. Should the senior emerge as an offensive threat, too, his head coach believes he can make the claim as the WPIAL’s top talent.
“I think that’s going to depend on how he does things offensively,” Walker said. “I think he’s known and understood for his skills and things he’s done on defense. If he ends up being one of those guys who is on both sides of the ball that is a threat, I think he definitely puts himself in that category.”