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WPIAL in the NFL


In covering high school football for the majority of my 15-year sportswriting career, I’ve often wondered how many players I cover will play college football and make it to the National Football League.

By my count, 25 WPIAL alums made the cut for NFL rosters this holiday weekend, including 10 first-year players. Let me know if I’m missing anyone who made a 53-man roster, not the practice squad.

The veterans: Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor (Woodland Hills), Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch (Steel Valley), San Francisco 49ers cornerback Shawntae Spencer (Woodland Hills), Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (Seton-La Salle), Cleveland Browns safety Raymond Ventrone (Chartiers Valley), Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston (Woodland Hills) and quarterback Tyler Palko (West Allegheny), Steelers safety Ryan Mundy (Woodland Hills), Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny (Hopewell), St. Louis Rams cornerback Justin King (Gateway), New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (Aliquippa), Indianapolis Colts kicker/punter Pat McAfee (Plum), Carolina Panthers offensive lineman C.J. Davis (West Allegheny), New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (Woodland Hills) and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (Upper St. Clair).

The newcomers: Chiefs wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin (Aliquippa), Tennessee Titans cornerback Tommie Campbell (Aliquippa), Cowboys safety Barry Church (Penn Hills), Chicago Bears linebacker Dom DeCicco (Thomas Jefferson), Minnesota Vikings center Brandon Fusco (Seneca Valley), Indianapolis Colts cornerback Terrence Johnson (Woodland Hills), Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Jason Pinkston (Baldwin), Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette) and center Stefen Wisniewski (Central Catholic) and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Darrin Walls (Woodland Hills).

That’s 16 WPIAL schools represented in the NFL, with three schools having multiple players: Woodland Hills has seven, Aliquippa three and West Allegheny two. A breakdown by positions: cornerbacks (seven), quarterbacks (four), linebackers (four), safeties (three), offensive linemen (three), wide receivers (two), tight ends (one) and kickers/punters (one).

By my count, I saw 20 of them play in high school football.

How many of you saw all of them play as preps, other than maybe Deuce?

And you wonder why networks want to televise WPIAL football?

— Kevin Gorman

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