One after another, the tweets were fired out late Saturday night, a flurry of announcements from some of Western Pennsylvania’s best senior football players saying they will play college ball at California University of Pennsylvania.
“I talked to other friends who had offers there, and we said we can really make an impact there. If we do this, we can break the internet,” McKeesport running back Bobbie Boyd said. “If we can’t play Division I, then let’s play together and be great.”
Cal U became “WPIAL and City League U” in the past week, with four all-state players committing to play for the Vulcans. Three of those standouts announced their commitments within two hours of one another Saturday night. Boyd began the buzz, one that continued with California receiving commitments from Westinghouse teammates Keyshawn Morsillo and Sincere Smith. Morsillo is a quarterback and Smith a wide receiver. A fourth all-state pick, Aliquippa lineman Naquan Crowder, announced his decision to play for California last Thursday.
“It was crazy,” said Morsillo, who led Westinghouse to the PIAA Class 2A championship game. “Especially seeing Bobbie do it, I was like, ‘whoa.’ That’s D1 material right there. When I saw him commit, that was big.”
“I wouldn’t say it was planned,” Boyd said of the commitments coming so close to one another. “We all went up and talked to the coaches, and we got that vibe. I want to go somewhere where I’m needed, not where I’m just wanted. Other schools were on me, but they recruited me heavily.”
Also committing Saturday was Bethel Park standout Aidan Currie, a tight end/H-back who helped the Black Hawks win a conference title and advance to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals last season. A day earlier it was Sto-Rox wide receiver Jaymont Green-Miller. Also announcing their commitments to California recently were Canon-McMillan lineman Noah Livesay and Gateway linebacker Racari El.
“I think that as a whole we will go in and compete for starting spots,” said Currie, whose dad is a California alum. “I think we’ll have a major impact not only this year, but by the time we’re seniors we will be really good.”
Boyd nearly had an epic college announcement. He attended a school dance Saturday at a banquet hall in North Huntingdon, and his plan was to take the microphone and break the news there. But when that fell through, he decided to simply post his big announcement on Twitter.
A lot of the local players who committed to California share one thing in common, that being many people believe they were under-recruited. Instead of being courted by FBS or FCS programs, they were being wooed by Division II and III schools. Some of this has to do with the impact the transfer portal has had on recruiting. Boyd, for example, was a star at the Class 5A level, putting up eye-popping numbers as a running back and defensive back while playing against outstanding competition. But Boyd had no Division I offers.
“I know these are great athletes who can ball at any level,” said Boyd, who said he was also considering accepting a preferred walk-on offer from West Virginia.
California competes in the PSAC conference and went 6-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play last fall. Head coach Gary Dunn has gone 49-18 in seven seasons.
Morsillo and Smith were teammates at Westinghouse, and there could be some more Bulldogs headed to California. Morsillo said Donte Taylor, Khalil Taylor and Davon Jones are all considering playing for the Vulcans.
Recruits have different priorities when it comes to finding a college home. Some put emphasis on playing for a Power Five or Division I school, or going to a place where they can capitalize most on NIL opportunities. But for many of the guys who chose California, their decision came down to finding the “right fit” and going to a place they felt like they were truly wanted.
“I’m looking forward to it 100%,” Morsillo said. “I feel like this is going to be big. Cal U is already a big program, and now it’s going to get even bigger.”
Baldwin’s Brady Hartman (Saint Vincent); Brashear’s Kevin Lowry (Westminster); Brashear’s Shawn Solomon (Duquesne); Butler’s Brock Popovich (Mercyhurst); Central Catholic’s Jackson Farrell (Duquesne); Central Valley’s Rylan Jeter (IUP); Hempfield’s Eli Binakonsky (Mercyhurst); Our Lady of the Sacred Heart’s Ryan Farrell (Gannon); Seneca Valley’s Graham Hancox (IUP); Serra’s Daiquan Chatfield (Alderson Broaddus); Sto-Rox’s Deigo Ellis (Slippery Rock); Sto-Rox’s Zay Davis (Slippery Rock); Upper St. Clair’s Marcus Fennell (Saint Francis); West Allegheny’s Brayden Lambert (Edinboro).
Apollo-Ridge’s Gage Johnston (Pitt-Greensburg).