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.
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.