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#TribHS S: Hudson is a hitter

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Moving Khaleke Hudson from middle linebacker to strong safety was one of the first moves George Smith made after returning as McKeesport coach last season after a three-year hiatus.

Not because Hudson couldn’t play middle linebacker, but rather because he’s just as effective in the secondary.

“There were teams running a lot of overload formations and wildcat formations,” Smith said. “You have to bring your safeties down.”

My Thursday column is on Hudson, a 6-foot, 205-pound junior who is one of the best safeties in the WPIAL. He’s a ferocious hitter with good closing speed who is learning to read and react to make plays. His sense of urgency can be both a strength and a weakness.

“I want to be a playmaker,” Hudson said, “to make everybody else around me better.”

Hudson has a chance to be a playmaker on offense, where he will play both wing back and fullback. Smith recalls only a select few players who had the strength and speed to play both positions, like Travis McBride and Russell Stuvaints, who would play for the Steelers.

“Not like him,” Smith said. “He’s a little different, has a different skill set. He never comes out of the game.”

Hudson averaged 8.3 yards per carry last season, rushing for 191 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries. He’s expected to play a much bigger role for the Tigers this season, even if it’s serving as lead blocker.

“He can block. He’s a great blocker,” Smith said. “He’ll knock the heck out of you.”

On offense and defense.

#TribHS PAGE

TribHS -- Safeties

HITTING THE LINKS

The eighth part of the #TribHS countdown to kickoff series focuses on safeties, and the last line of defense has two of the most heavily recruited players in the WPIAL in Central Catholic’s Johnny Petrishen and McKeesport’s Khaleke Hudson , by Chris Harlan.

North Allegheny’s coach is named new PIHL commissioner, by Bill Hartlep.

Highlands WR Jeremy Jackson serves as speedy complement to his RB brother, by Bill Beckner Jr.

South Allegheny hopes to reverse course and start winning, by Dave Mackall.

Oft-injured Karns City running back hopes to stay healthy, by Matt Grubba.

Geibel girls volleyball team sets lofty goals, by Jason Black.

Taylor, Suchy primed for golf success at Baldwin, by Ray Fisher.

Quaker Valley boys soccer team has work cut out, by Gary Horvath.

Fox Chapel boys soccer looks to replace 10 graduates with talent-laden group, by Marty Stewart.

Franklin Regional boys golf expects strong follow-up to playoff campaign, by Doug Gulasy.

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Author: Kevin Gorman

Kevin Gorman is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media who covers Western Pennsylvania prep sports in an interactive, multimedia platform. He hosts a show from 2-3 p.m. every Friday on TribLIVE Radio, does the Skylights Spotlight segment for WPXI-TV during football season and is a contributor to WPXI's The Final Word. Gorman joined the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in August 1999 and has been a sports columnist since September 2009. He won Pennsylvania Newspaper Association first-place awards for sports columns in 2011 and '12, and has covered the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup Final twice each, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the Rose, Citrus and Sun bowls and the Big East and NCAA basketball tournaments. Gorman spent three years as the Pitt football beat writer, two as Pitt basketball beat writer and seven years covering high school sports and recruiting. He also has served as color analyst for FSN Pittsburgh/Root Sports on the WPIAL football and basketball championships and as guest analyst for its Trib Total Media High School Edition. Gorman has worked at newspapers in Memphis, Phoenix, Dallas and Kansas City, which makes him something of an expert on barbecue and sunscreen. A graduate of Baldwin High School and Penn State University, Gorman has a son, Kieran, and comes from a large Irish-Catholic family whose roots are in Greenfield and Mt. Washington. Don’t be surprised if you run into one of his cousins; considering there are more than 100, be surprised if you don’t. Email kgorman@tribweb.com or follow on Twitter @KGorman_Trib.