PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Penn State’s Pittsburgh Central Catholic Connection

From the first day he took the job, James Franklin placed a premium on reestablishing Penn State’s recruiting presence in the Pittsburgh area.

He and his staff have signed four high-level prospects from in and around the city in their first four classes. Pittsburgh Central Catholic, in particular, is the alma mater to two coaches and two players on the current roster.

Joe Moorhead and Matt Limegrover grew up in the same Steel City suburb. In a stroke of fate, Moorhead’s dad served as Limegrover’s first football coach, quickly finding a spot for him on his offensive line. Of course, one of the first recruits Limegrover got in touch with after being hired was a fellow Viking — four-star guard C.J. Thorpe.

Thorpe’s father, Chris, played linebacker and halfback for the Nittany Lions from 1985-88, overlapping his last two seasons with cornerbacks coach Terry Smith.

Moorhead’s offensive genius was put on full display in his first year calling the plays.

Smith coached Gateway High School to 101 wins in his hometown of Monroeville, Pa., before taking the job in State College in 2014. His stepson, Justin King, needs no introduction among Penn State fans. The former five-star helped the Nittany Lions to the 2006 Orange Bowl as a freshman, playing significant roles in all three phases of the game. Franklin hired him as an assistant recruiting coordinator in May.

Thorpe, an Under Armour All-American, was considered the nation’s sixth-best guard in the 2017 recruiting class, holding additional scholarship tenders from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, and the supremely selective Stanford, which only offered three other interior linemen that cycle.

Redshirt sophomore safety John Petrishen, who also excelled for head coach Terry Totten at Central Catholic, knew Penn State needed to land his former teammate.

“Ever since I got here, coach Franklin and everybody has tried to get me to get other guys from PCC here,” Petrishen said. “It’s fun to have C.J. here now. Coach Moorhead, he actually grew up not too far from me.”

Thorpe (No. 61) showcased his shear strength in the popular Lions Den drill early in training camp, overpowering equally massive true freshman defensive tackle Fred Hansard at the point of attack.

Thorpe was a main contributor on the 2015 PIAA state championship team as a junior before being named a captain the following year. The school  captured two other state titles in 2004 and 2007. Petrishen described the 6-foot-3, 314-pound Thorpe’s aggressive style of play at media day.

“Oh, he’s really physical. And he was like that since the day I started playing with him. I knew he was gonna carry that chip on his shoulder here,” Petrishen said. “Sometimes he takes it to the echo of the whistle, even past that. He gets in defenders heads a lot. Some people get rubbed the wrong way by that, but that’s just the nature of the beast. That’s the way he’ll play forever.”

Thorpe plans to major in either history or political science and wants to pursue law after earning his undergrad degree. There’s no doubt he’s a future multi-year starter for Limegrover at guard, but with the ample depth Penn State’s built up at the position and his summer arrival, chances are good he’ll redshirt this fall.

After taking that route himself in 2015, Petrishen sat out last fall due to an unspecified season-ending injury. Now back at full health, he should contribute on special teams in some capacity before seeing time with the safeties down the road.

Miles Sanders scored his second career touchdown on this 21-yard catch and run at Purdue.

On top of Thorpe and Petrishen, Penn State has nabbed Pittsburgh area commitments from five-star running back Miles Sanders and four-star offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins under Franklin. Sanders played his scholastic ball for Woodland Hills, where Rob Gronkowski got his start, while the towering 6-foot-8 Jenkins attended Baldwin High just down the road.

The Nittany Lions are hoping their renewed recruiting emphasis on the region will pay dividends with additional Central Catholic, or WPIAL products in general, picking black shoes and basic blues over the competition.

“First of all, I wish there were more coming,” Sanders said. “It’s been good having a lot of people from my area come down here to play ball.”

About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]


More by Ethan

Four Veterans Who Could Fill Important Roles For Penn State

Mark Allen, Brandon Polk, Jarvis Miller, and Ayron Monroe have the chance to create more opportunities for themselves this season.

Seven More Penn State Freshmen Arrive On Campus

Evan Barratt Invited To World Junior Summer Showcase


Tony Carr Experienced ‘Greatest Feeling Of His Life’ At NBA Draft

“Just to be able to hear my name called at the NBA Draft, it’s just a dream come true.” Penn State men’s basketball guard has reached the pinnacle of the sport — entering the NBA pro ranks after getting drafted Thursday night in Brooklyn by the New Orleans Pelicans. Carr, who had to wait around […]

Pelicans GM Excited To Bring In ‘Crafty’ Tony Carr

[VIDEO] New Orleans Pelicans Select Tony Carr In 2018 NBA Draft

Tony Carr First Nittany Lion Selected In NBA Draft Since 1999

Bundling Student Tickets And Offering Options: What Penn State Can Learn

Student Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Penn State’s Student Farm will celebrate the longest day of the year with tours and live music Thursday evening.

Penn State Love Stories: A Chance Meeting At Beaver Stadium

Virtual Reality: Changing The Game At Penn State

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Pittsburgh-Based Burger Joint BRGR Opening State College Location

BRGR was able to strike a deal for the building in the past six months or so, as the new goal is to open Happy Valley location — the restaurant’s first outside of Pittsburgh — in early January 2019.

Bream Won’t Be Charged With Perjury

Tim Bream, the former live-in adviser for Beta Theta Pi fraternity, will not face a perjury charge for his testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Don’t Like Penn State Student Ticket Policies? Change Them.

That potential lies as much in the hands of active, informed, and opinionated students as it does in those of the profit-driven athletic departments.

Send this to a friend