Over the past 40 years, McKeesport has started only two freshmen.
One of them, Khaleke Hudson, is now in his fourth season in the NFL.
He’s a 14-year-old ninth grader who is already drawing comparisons to Hudson, the player he idolized growing up.
Kemon Spell could be destined to be the next great player at McKeesport, and the running back-free safety already has a Power Five scholarship offer to his name. Last week, Spell’s favorite team, Pitt, extended him his very first offer.
“It means a lot. I was super happy to get it,” said Spell, who joined Central Catholic’s Larry Moon, Seton LaSalle’s Khalil Taylor and Shady Side Academy’s Carter Bonner as local freshmen who recently picked up offers from Pitt.
Spell then collected his second offer Monday, this one coming from UNLV.
McKeesport coach Matt Miller said that while he expected Spell (5 feet 9, 170 pounds) to get a lot of college attention at some point, he didn’t expect it to come this early. The level of impact Spell has made already is also a surprise, Miller said. But Spell wasted little time in making his presence known. Miller said Spell had three interceptions in his very first practice. And in his first varsity game, he rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns … on just four carries. One of those touchdowns came on an electrifying 70-yard run.
“This kid is pretty damn special,” Miller said. “He can really run. He’s fast. Khaleke was probably a little bit bigger playing inside linebacker, but Kemon is playing free safety and really running a lot with the football as a freshman.
“Every once in a while you see him do something that reminds you of Khaleke or Travis McBride, but those kids were juniors and seniors. This kid is 14. He was playing middle school football last year.”
Spell needed no introduction when he reached high school. After all, he was a big star with the McKeesport Little Tigers, so much so that Miller said Spell is “very well known throughout the community.”
It has been a family affair for Spell this season, as he is playing on a team with his brother for the first time. Keith Spell (6-2, 245) is a senior who plays tight end and defensive end for McKeesport, which is 3-1 and ranked No. 3 in WPIAL Class 4A.
“It’s been good,” Kemon said of playing with his big brother, “but he’s kind of been bossing me around a little bit.”
When Hudson was in high school, he was a big recruit who ultimately picked Michigan over the likes of Pitt, Penn State and UCLA. Hudson’s first offer came from West Virginia his sophomore year. And while Kemon Spell is in the early stages of his recruitment, it’s not hard to imagine he will ultimately have many big offers, too.
“I think he’s going to be a huge [recruit],” Miller said. “When your first offer is a Power Five, that’s going to trickle down to the other ACC schools and then come to the Big Ten. I just know from how this happened before.”
Stars trim lists
A pair of the area’s brightest stars — both juniors — recently narrowed their lists of college suitors. Lincoln Park basketball standout Meleek Thomas announced a top 12 that consists of Pitt, Auburn, Connecticut, Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, Miami, Michigan, Tennessee and Villanova. Rivals ranks Thomas as a five-star recruit and the No. 5 player in the country. Aliquippa football star Tikey Hayes tweeted a final eight of Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Hayes is a four-star prospect ranked by Rivals as the No. 5 player in the state and No. 217 player in the country.
Steele to BG
One of the WPIAL’s top linemen has made his college choice. West Mifflin’s Rico Steele, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior, committed to Bowling Green. Steele, an all-conference pick a season ago, was recruited to play on the interior line. His other offers included James Madison and Toledo. Steele’s father, Rod, is West Mifflin’s coach.
A pair of football players picked up their first FBS offers in recent days, and they both came from Temple. Getting those offers were University Prep junior Xair Stevenson and North Hills sophomore Jamar Allen. Temple was busy dishing out offers to local players over the weekend. The Owls also handed them out to Gateway junior Kenny Lewis and Woodland Hills sophomore Scoop Smith.
Burgettstown’s Brodie Kuzior (Seton Hill); Montour’s Jake Robinson (Kent State); North Allegheny’s Nico Varlotta (West Virginia); Serra Catholic’s Zach Black (Mercyhurst); Shaler’s Brady McGuire (Seton Hill).
Greensburg Central Catholic’s Avery Davis (Wheeling); Ellwood City’s Claire Noble (Clarion); North Allegheny’s Grace Heliger (Baldwin Wallace); Norwin’s Ava Kobus (Allegheny); Saint Joseph’s Julie Spinelli (Frostburg State).
Mt. Lebanon’s Maddox Metzger (Bowdoin); Penn Hills’ Kelsey Hundley (Richmond); Uniontown’s K’Adrian McLee (Cornell).
Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Prezioso (Robert Morris).
Avonworth’s Fiona Mahan (Alabama); Bethel Park’s Sam Shields (Penn State Behrend); Charleroi’s Bella Carroto (Pitt Greensburg); Moon’s Serayah Leech (IUP); Norwin’s Julia Bursick (Duquesne); West Allegheny’s Addison Kosenina (Edinboro).
Belle Vernon’s Ava Zubovic (Mercyhurst); Bethel Park’s Freya Blatz (Akron); Hampton’s Mackenzie Reese (Pitt); Seneca Valley’s Anna Kalkowski (Seton Hill).
Canon-McMillan’s Julia Murdy (Radford).
Belle Vernon’s Kyle Szewczyk (Ohio).