While it might not produce the same talent as they did a decade ago, year in and year out the WPIAL still produces football players to various football programs across the country.
It comes as no surprise that Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt and his staff are doing their best to keep as much local talent at home as possible. On Tuesday, the Dukes program landed a linebacker from one of the WPIAL’s top programs.
Middle linebacker Luke Harris from Pittsburgh Central Catholic announced on Tuesday that he will be playing his college football at Duquesne. Harris joins fellow WPIAL players wide receiver Tyler Padezan (East Allegheny), linebacker Evan Smith (Seneca Valley) and quarterback Shane Stump (Thomas Jefferson) in Duquesne’s Class of 2020.
Pittsburgh Sports Now was able to talk to Harris on Tuesday night to get his reaction to his commitment and his reasons for staying home to play on The Bluff.
“This day means everything to me, to be able to play college football was always a dream of mine and to turn that dream into reality and to do it in Pittsburgh, where I have a lot of family and friends that will be able to come watch me, means everything to me,” said Harris.
“Playing football since I was six year old, my parents never missed a game. I’ll be able to have family from out of town come in and watch the game, that’s important and means a lot to me.”
— Luke Harris (@ccharris38) December 9, 2019
Harris had other offers including ones from Robert Morris and a PWO opportunity from Pitt, what made Duquesne the right fit for him?
“My recruiting coach at Duquesne was Luke Smith, he’s a Central Catholic grad, and I just felt very comfortable with him. When I went on my official visit to Duquesne, I fell in love with the campus, the scenery around it and the city of Pittsburgh. As I talked with Coach Schmitt about football and Duquesne, I was just right and everything that I wanted.”
Along with staying home to play, the fact that he’d able to play with fellow WPIAL stars was also something that Harris took into consideration. Along with the three other players in this year’s class, Duquesne signed seven WPIAL players last year: OL Michael Dorundo (Pine-Richland), QB Jason Sweeney (Upper St. Clair), RB Michael Daure (Keystone Oaks), LB Todd Hill (Steel Valley), OL A.J. Ackerman (Elizabeth Forward), DE Troy Kuhn (Kiski) and LB Connor Barrett (Chartiers Valley.)
“After I got my offer from Duquesne, Todd Hill reached out to me and talked to me for a bit,” said Harris. “Evan Smith is from Seneca Valley and I’ve known him since I was real young and we’ve talked about it. I think there’s enough talent in the WPIAL to build around and I think that’s what Duquesne is trying to do.”
Now that his recruiting is over with, Harris will make his decision official and sign with Duquesne next Wednesday. The process of recruiting can be stressful but Harris had fun with it and feels fortunate to have had the opportunity.
“It was cool having coaches calling and DM’ing you and telling you how good you are and how much they want you. It can also be stressful at times because this is your first big adult decision and you just have to hope you made the right one and I think I did with Duquesne and just look forward to going there and everything it has to offer.”