Quip's Interest in PSU No Joke

Aliquppia (Pa.) standout cornerback Dravon Henry has the Nittany Lions among his final four. The program has long been a pipeline to Pitt.

Penn State, Pitt, Ohio State and West Virginia -- in no particular order -- are the top four schools Aliquippa (Pa.) High defensive back Dravon Henry released Tuesday night.

The junior from the western reaches of Pennsylvania had no idea coming into Wednesday that by nightfall he would be separating his 12 offers into a top four. But a discussion with his parents about college led to dialogue about programs that had offered him -- their pros and cons, and which might suit him best. And all four have one particular thing in common.

“The list might change, but those four are it for right now,” Henry said. “Some can jump back in, and only time can tell. But right now, all four of them want me to play defensive back, and that's what I want to play. I always wanted to play cornerback, and defense, at the next level.”

The 5-foot-11, 180 pound FOX Sports NEXT four-star prospect also played running back for the Quips in 2012, but he shined in the defensive backfield.

And that's the reason the influence of Nittany Lion defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach John Butler came into play, almost singlehandedly assuring the Lions a spot in the talented Henry's list.

“Well, I'm starting to build a relationship with Coach Butler, and that kind of attracted me to Penn State, too,” Henry said. “He told me about being a pioneer, and to go a different way. And what he meant by that is that everybody from Aliquippa goes to Pittsburgh, but someone eventually has to go somewhere else and be different, and lead as an example. That led me on.”

The last Quip to attend PSU on a football scholarship? Marques Henderson, a starting safety on the 1986 national championship squad who joined the team in 1984.

But being a pioneer isn't easy, and Henry knows that. It also hasn't been easy for the Lions when recruiting players out of the small western town. Then four-star linebacker Paul Posluszny chose to commit to the program in the Class of 2003.

But his connection was merely geographic, as Posluszny graduated from Hopewell High, leaving a lengthy gap between players to trade the Quips' orange and black for Lions' blue and white.

“It seems like a very nice play to play. They are very physical,” Henry said. He visited for Penn State's Junior Day on Feb. 23 with teammate and defensive tackle Jaleel Fields. “They are always on television it seems like, and who wouldn't want to be on TV? That's what attracted me, too.”

Of course, there are plenty of things that attract recruits to any one program, and like Penn State, the other three schools on his list offer different elements and enticements. Pitt is one of those schools, a favorite of past Quips under a new regime.

“They have a good coaching staff, and I can get along with them,” Henry said. “I like the facilities. I mean, it's close to home, and you can't go wrong with that. … I liked the locker room, too, and all-around it was nice. The field was nice, too, because it's the [Pittsburgh] Steelers field.”

Rounding out his top four are two out-of-state programs in the Buckeyes and Mountaineers, and each provide their own draws, including a family connection to West Virginia.

“They've always been a favorite school of mine,” Henry said of the Mountaineers. “My cousin, Charles Fisher, went there from 1995-1999, and he always talked to me about them. And [safeties] Coach [Tony] Gibson started a relationship with me, so I put them on my list.”

And the Buckeyes?

“First or all, I like [head] Coach [Urban] Meyer,” Henry said. “That's a reason why any athlete would go there. He's a great coach, and always have a winning record and is very competitive. Their facility is big, and I actually like their locker room and stadium a lot, and their fans.

“They rush the field after a big game, and it can't get any better than that.”

Henry says he is in no rush to make another cut, and that he may decide soon or wait until his football season is underway. That's because just like his top four decision, it will have no timetable.

“I probably won't make a next move until football season, and as of now, I really don't know,” Henry said. “There's always room to get to learn more about a school, and now I have to build a closer relationship with the coaching staffs at those four schools, and get to know some of the players there, too.”

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