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The Unofficial Lehigh Commit List for the Class of 2017

(Photo Credit: Matt Smith/The Express-Times)

Yes, it's that time of year once again!

What has become an annual rite for Lehigh Football Nation readers is the yearly posting where I assemble all the known recruiting information for the incoming freshman football class.

For the last five years I've been competing with the legendary poster RichH to determine the incoming class.

Below the flip, get a sneak peek of Lehigh's class of 2017 - and come back to this page often, as I'm going to be updating it frequently over the next few weeks until Lehigh officially announces their incoming class.

WR Michael Anderson (Toledo Central Catholic, Toledo, OH)
14-1 Fighting Irish Ohio Division II State Champions
Member of Three Rivers Athletic Conference All-Academic Team
Toledo Blade: High-powered offense big reason why Irish are No. 1

At the heart of the Central scoring glut is a group at the offensive skill positions that may eventually rival any past contingent at Toledo high schools.

It starts with heavily recruited 6-foot-5, 210-pound junior QB DeShone Kizer, and is highlighted by power and quickness of 5-11, 190-pound senior RB Amir Edwards, who has carried 52 times for 443 yards and seven touchdowns in three games for the 3-0 Irish, who were ranked No. 1 in Division II in the first Associated Press poll.

It is the first time Central has been voted to a No. 1 state ranking since week 9 of the 2006 season, when the Irish followed their 14-1 state championship run of 2005 with a 9-0 start.

Joining Central's multiple spread offensive scheme are 6-4, 250-pound senior TE Keith Towbridge, who has committed to Louisville, and 5-11, 198-pound junior FB Paul Moses.  Dempsey also utilizes senior RB Cedric Gray, and 6-2, 190-pound senior WR Michael Anderson.
Link to Twitter Commitment



DB Joe Barrett (St. Xavier Prep, Cincinnati, OH)
Cincinnati.com: St. Xavier senior DB Joe Barrett commits to Lehigh


St. Xavier senior defensive back Joe Barrett committed to Lehigh on Sunday, according to St. X coach Steve Specht.

Barrett had 104 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two broken-up passes, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the regular season. He was first-team all-GCL South.

Punt Block for TD (Barrett made the block, not the return)

LB Colton Caslow (Lake Brantley HS, Laureldale, PA)
Orlando Sentinel: Lake Brantly LB/S Caslow Commits to Play at Lehigh


Lake Brantley ATH Colton Caslow, who was a big key this past season in the Patriots swarming defensive scheme, has committed to play at Lehigh Unjiversity in Bethlehem, Pa.

Caslow, ranked No. 59 in the Sentinel's 2013 Central Florida Super60, is the fifth Orlando player to commit to Lehigh in the past three years, joining WR Derek Knott of Colonial, WR Hayden Jones of Lake Highland Prep and Timber Creek LB Mat Verdon last year, and former Lake Brantley teammate Tim Newton from 2011. Newton’s brother Colin, a 2012 senior, also played at Lehigh.

“It’s a great place and I am really excited about it,” Caslow said. “The athletics are great and the academics are great ... it’s just well rounded school.”

Caslow will play a similar position to what he did at Lake Brantley in a hybrid outside linebacker/safety type of role, which is called the “Willie” linebacker at Lehigh. He is the second 2013 commit from the Brantley defense, joining linebacker Dominic Zanca-McDonald, who is headed to Duke.

“I couldn’t be more happy,” said Caslow, who showed his ability to come up and fight off blockers to stop the run this season. “I felt like my run coverage on the outside was very key to our defense being so successful.”
 

LB/FB Mackenzie Crawford (Pennridge Upper HS, Perkasie, PA)
The Reporter Online: Pennridge Holds Off CB West

In a tie game in the fourth quarter Friday night, Pennridge coach Randy Cuthbert was not taking any chances.

With 72 yards to reach the end zone, Mike Class and Mackenzie Crawford were going to carry the Rams there.

“The game was on the line, so I wanted the ball in my best guys’ hands,” Cuthbert said. “Mike and Kenny are going to be touching it, we were trying to mix it up, so keep them a little bit off balance and to who’s going to get it.”

Class ran for 168 yards and three touchdowns, while Crawford had 128 yards and a score as the Rams (4-1, 1-0 conference) earned their third straight victory.
Listed on Philly.Com's Area Commit List



OL Zach Duffy (Muhlenburg HS, Laureldale, PA)
Rivals Commit **

Reading Eagle: Perfect fit: Muhls' Duffy commits to Lehigh


College coaches started noticing the 6-5, 310-pound tackle midway through his junior season, motivating him further.

It was a chance meeting with Lehigh offensive line coach Brett Sawyer just a few weeks ago, however, that really made an impact.

Sawyer was working a camp at Rutgers in late June when he noticed Duffy's size and ability.

The two connected and just six weeks later Duffy made the trip to Bethlehem Friday to watch the Mountain Hawks practice, and to eventually give head coach Andy Coen his commitment.
Highlight Reel: Hudl Profile



WR/DB Brian Githens (St. Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ)
3-way player at St. Peter's Prep as WR, S, and Punter
Marauder Radio Network Sums Up St. Peter's Prep's Season

  
The 2012 Season is one for Saint Peter's Prep that was filled with a lot of unexpected issues. In week three Kearny canceled four hours before kickoff.

The team's training facility was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and the school days and football practice mixing has been tough for the players. They could not play Dover high school before the playoffs.

Rich Hansen normally schedules an athletic team before the playoffs. Saint Peter's Prep has had to deal with lots of time off and I believe this 2012 group of Seniors handled it like men.

Brian Githens was a Senior this season that contributed on defense and special teams. He led the team with 3 interceptions and two of those went for touchdowns. He also was huge as the punter.

Twitter Commitment
More Video via Hudl Profile



LB Evan Harvey (American Heritage-Delray HS, Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Orlando Sentinel Top 100
Palm Beach Post: Harvey Commits to Lehigh
Harvey committed to Lehigh on Tuesday. The school is an hour away from many family members, and several close friends still live near Harvey’s former home.

“A lot of family members are going to see me play,” Harvey said. I thought it was a no-brainer. My grandpa will be able to see me play for the next couple years.”

As a 6-foot-1, 225-pound strong-side linebacker in Heritage’s 3-4 scheme, Harvey had 80 tackles (18 for loss), 9 sacks and an interception return last season. He said he’ll play inside in Lehigh’s 3-4.

The Mountainhawks’ defense isn’t the only thing he’s familiar with. He’s never been to a Lehigh game, but navigating the area is second nature. As a four-year-old, he saw his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, practice at Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium.
Highlight Reel: Hudl Profile

LB Evan Kaufmann (Freedom HS, Bethlehem, PA)
Morning Call: Freedom LB Kaufmann Commits to Lehigh

The Lehigh football program landed two of the Lehigh Valley Conference's top linebackers after the 2011 season.

A third area standout at the position will join the Mountain Hawks during the fall.

Freedom senior Evan Kauffman has given an oral commitment to Lehigh, according to Patriots coach Jason Roeder. Kauffman chose the Mountain Hawks over New Hampshire.

"He's obviously a strong student to be able to go to Lehigh," Roeder said this morning. "The football program and results have been speaking for themselves. I know he felt comfortable with the coaching staff. We're obviously excited to have him this close to home."

Kauffman started at middle linebacker for three years for Freedom, leading the team in tackles the past two seasons.
Video Available on Hudl Profile

WR/CB/RS Brandon Leaks (Hillcrest HS, Simpsonville, SC)
All-Region II 4A (CB, Defense)
Greenville Online: All-County Football Team Has 12 Area Players

Hillcrest’s Brandon Leaks, who had 45 total tackles, three interceptions and two blocked punts, was a first-team choice at cornerback.




P/K Ryan Pandy (Countryside HS, Clearwater, FL) 
PCAC North All-Conference Team

Countryside HS source of many Division I Kickers such as PK Chase Hobby (Navy) and PK Zach Hobby (Delaware)
Tampa Bay Times Commitment List
Sun Coast News: Countryside Tops Tarpon Springs 38-3 in Spring Jamboree

He showed off his powerful leg all night by booting kickoffs out of the end zone, but his highlight came early. Pandy capped the game’s opening drive with a 56-yard field goal.
“I knew he was going to at least put it in the end zone,” Cougars head coach Jared Davis said of sending Pandy out for the lengthy attempt. "He’s definitely a weapon.”

Highlight Reel: Hudl Profile 

RB Pierce Ripanti (Caravel Academy, Wilmington, DE)
Newark Post: Caravel Wins State Championship
Pierce Ripanti has never forgotten the sick feeling he had in his stomach on the bus ride home from Dover last year after Caravel Academy narrowly lost to Indian River in the state-championship football game.

But it was nothing compared to the sick feeling the senior running back had in his stomach as he boarded the bus Friday night for another shot at a state title.

Last year’s sick feeling was a result of disappointment. But this year, it was thanks to the flu.

“I felt really bad on Wednesday, but then a little better on Thursday and Friday,” explained Ripanti, who missed two practices leading up to the game. “When I wasn’t around my team, I wasn’t feeling too good.”

Ripanti knew he had one last chance to reach his goal of winning a state championship, and he was determined to be on the field Friday night at Alumni Stadium on the Delaware State University campus.

And he did more than just show up: Ripanti rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bucs to a 39-29 victory over Hodgson Vo-Tech (11-2).

“Once I got around my teammates, I felt their energy and felt better,” Ripanti said. “That gave me an adrenaline boost that carried me through the game.”

“He wasn’t going to be denied,” said head coach John Reed. “This kid lives and dies Caravel football. He assured us he was going to carry this team on his back to the championship. His dreams all came true for him.”
Twitter Commitment



QB Nick Shafinsky (Whitehall HS, Whitehall, PA)
Commit Announcement from Express-Times
Co-Lehigh Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year
Morning Call 2012 All-Area
Maxwell Football Club Finalist

A two-year starting quarterback and Lehigh recruit, senior led Whitehall to a share of the LVC title while being named the league's co-offensive MVP with Central Catholic RB Colin McDermott. … Went 118 for 204 for 1,628 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. … Also ran 159 times for 1,091 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 7.0 yards per carry. … Had 361 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns in the Zephyrs' subregional playoff loss to Delaware Valley.
According to a release from the school, Shafnisky had other offers from Football Championship Subdivision schools. He chose the two-time Patriot League champions over New Hampshire and Colgate. He will be part of the first merit-based scholarship class at Lehigh.


OC Brandon Short (Mentor HS, Mentor, OH)
12-2 Cardinals Northeast Ohio League Champions, #7 in State
Varsity Chalk Talk All-Ohio Center
Varsity Chalk Talk: OL Doesn't Need Recognition, Just Results

No statewide recognition, no press clippings, no major awards - no problem.

That’s the attitude the Mentor offensive line has taken this season as the ultimate “no-name” unit of the 12-1 Cardinals. With All-Ohio candidates like North Carolina recruit Mitch Trubisky and star wideouts Brandon Fritts and Conner Krizancic eating up much of the headlines on a record-setting offense that has scored 616 points through 13 weeks, the big guys doing the dirty work in the trenches aren’t usually in the spotlight.

Senior center Brandon Short says that’s just fine with him and the four juniors that line up with him on the offensive line.

“Offensive linemen don’t get recognition much, and that’s OK with us. We just want to do our job, because if we do get recognized it’s usually for something we didn’t do right,” Short said. “Communicating and being on the same page is what it’s all about. We are 5 as 1. That’s what we have to do. When we are 5 as 1, we feel like we can be unstoppable as an offense.”

Unstoppable is a good word for an offense that hasn’t scored less than 33 points in a game this season.
Twitter Commitment
Video available on Hudl Profile

DE Brad Smith (Jesuit HS, Tampa, FL)
Tampa Bay Times: Smith Decommits from South Florida, Chooses Lehigh

Jesuit DE Brad Smith, ranked No. 87 on the Tampa Bay Times’ HomeTeam 100, has decommitted from USF and pledged to attend Lehigh, his father said Tuesday.

Smith was one of three Tigers seniors, including Cameron Ruff and Robby Garcia, who were planning to play at USF for since-fired head coach Skip Holtz. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday night why he decided to change his commitment.

A three-year starter at Jesuit, Smith finished his high school career with 142 tackles and 26.5 sacks. He was chosen as the Tigers’ defensive MVP for 2011 and followed that up with 57 tackles and 10 sacks this fall.

Smith also had offers from major-college programs like Boston College, Duke and Air Force as well as offers from the likes of Furman and Lafayette.


WR Trevor Socarras (Immaculata HS, Somerset, NJ)
My Central Jersey: Socarras Will Play at Lehigh

Immaculata senior wide receiver Trevor Socarras recently made a non-binding committment to Lehigh. Socarras, the Spartans’ leading receiver this season, also entertained offers from Georgetown, Colgate, Holy Cross, Bryant, Albany and Cornell.

“I just loved the fact that Lehigh was close to home, the stadium was huge, the academics were a big part of it and the coaches made me feel like I was home, like family,” said Socarras, who lives in Somerset.



DE/TE T.J. Stubbs (Ardrey Kell HS, Charlotte, NC)
Southwestern 4A All-Conference
North Carolina AP All-State Ballot
Had 87 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 12 1/2 sacks and 12 pressures. Also played tight end. Being recruited by Gardner-Webb, Western Carolina and VMI.
Videos available on Hudl profile

OL Micah Tennant (Ligonier Valley HS, Ligonier, PA)
Scouting PA Commit

Pittsburgh Tribune: Ligonier Valley standout shines in classroom, on gridiron


From just outside the fringes of the revered WPIAL, Micah Tennant stands tall.

Ligonier Valley‘s talented, two-way senior lineman (6-foot-6, 296 pounds) has rebounded from a broken tibia that ended his junior year and is doing his best to extend Ligonier Valley‘s season. The Rams (10-1) will play host to Forest Hills (8-3) in the District 6-AA semifinals Saturday night.

“He‘s quite a young man. He‘s getting attention from college coaches, and he‘s ranked No. 2 in his class,” Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. “Academically, he‘s great.”

He‘s not too shabby on the gridiron, either, as early as summer preseason camp drawing attention from various Division I coaches.




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