After Alex Gochis visited Duquesne’s campus over the weekend, he left with far more answers than questions. One of the only questions he had was how soon he could come back.
Duquesne checked off the important boxes on Gochis’s wish list. As a soon-to-be Pine-Richland graduate and former Rams football star, it’s close to home. Like many WPIAL student-athletes, the dream of Division I football is alive and well. And perhaps most of all, the connection with the Dukes’ coaching staff is unmatched.
“I went up for a visit, an official, this weekend, and I met all the coaches,” Gochis told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I just really loved all the coaches — they’re so nice. Very serious program, very talented and good success in their past.”
Despite interest from schools like Marist, Valparaiso, Walsh and a plethora of other Division II and III colleges, Gochis announced his commitment to Duquesne Sunday night via Twitter following his official visit.
— Alex Gochis (@alexg0chis) January 24, 2022
The proximity with Duquesne, roughly a half-hour drive from Gochis’s family home in the North Hills, was a key fit for the family, and it doesn’t hurt that the hometown Dukes play Division I football in the FCS Northeast conference.
“It’s always been my dream to play Division I football,” Gochis said. “You know, there were other schools in the area — Division II, Division III, just not as nice or as talented as Duquesne is.”
A wide receiver and defensive back at Pine-Richland, making an impact as a sophomore before breaking out over his junior and senior seasons with the Rams, Gochis appears to be headed for a permanent move to the offensive side of the ball.
With a 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame, Gochis is already well-built for the FCS level, and while he’s not the fastest guy on the football field, he does boast deceptive 4.5 40-yard dash speed that allows him to outrace defensive backs with the ball in his hands. He led the Rams in receptions (48), receiving yards (740) and touchdowns (8) as a senior, and he chipped in two more catches on defense and four passes defended.
While Pine-Richland’s high-powered offense suffered through a down 2021 season, Gochis still ranked among the top wide receivers statistically in the WPIAL, and he earned All-Conference honors in the Class-5A classification.
Pine-Richland has experienced massive success in the WPIAL over the past decade, winning a handful of WPIAL titles and a couple of state titles in the process, and Gochis’s continued development has been both a by-product and a catalyst in that success. He attributes his own intensity and competition in the WPIAL to allowing him to make the jump to a program like Duquesne.
“Just the WPIAL, in general, is very competitive,” Gochis said. “Coming from Pine-Richland, very good success in the past, very good program, very good coaches. I think that was the main thing.”
And the opportunity to showcase that ability may not be too far off either.
With Duquesne’s leading receivers in Cyrus Holder, Wykeen Gill and Garrett Owens exhausting their respective collegiate eligibility following the end of last season, the opportunity to compete for a spot is ripe for the taking. But Gochis is ready to make an impact wherever and whenever his number is called.
“As from what I’ve heard, they’ve got some wide receivers that have left, graduated last year,” Gochis said. “So, I’m hoping to battle for that fourth or fifth wide receiver spot this year. That would be the goal, but anywhere they need me really.”
Gochis said he will be commuting back and forth for spring and summer workouts before finally making his way to campus for the season in the fall.
Losing isn’t something that Gochis has had to experience all that much throughout his high school career, and he’s not eager to start now, so the work is already underway. And he feels like his never-say-die, winning attitude is a perfect fit for Duquesne football.
“I think one of my best attributes, to me, is I’m a very competitive person,” Gochis said. “I really hate losing, so I think that’ll help me with them because I know they hate losing as well.