Coach Speak: Dorian Johnson

Belle Vernon head coach Aaron Krepps gives us his perspective on what led his star lineman to committing to the Panthers.

Aaron Krepps, as Belle Vernon head coach, has a unique role in that he gets the initial contact from college coaches. He's obviously also there to advise, and help his players through their recruiting process.

Though it was a long one with his offensive line prospect Dorian Johnson, he can already see the comfort level Johnson has in selecting Pitt.

"It has been a long process, but I think he made an outstanding decision in choosing Pitt," Krepps said. "I'm real happy for him."

As for it being one thing, it came down to the one thing Johnson was looking for all along since he re-opened his recruitment--comfort level.

"I think the biggest thing with him was the comfort level," Krepps added. "On his visit this weekend, he got to be around some of the other players. It was a good feel for him. It really sold him with Pitt."

Leading into the comfort level was the job the coaching staff did with him; specifically the way they gave Johnson some space. Because of the way they let him make his own decision, while not overcrowding him--that sounds like where the comfort level started.

"They never pressured him," Krepps said. "They allowed him to take his time; to see everything, and to get a feel for himself. He really took his time. They sat back and let him think on his own. There really was never any pressure. It worked out."

As for the football part of it, Johnson comes to the team at a position of need--the offensive line. Does Pitt need a big offensive lineman, a physical one, or maybe just someone with quick feet? Quite frankly, they need a little bit of everything. That's something that Johnson brings to the team--some versatility.

"His strength is right there," Krepps said. "He's a very strong player. He's got a great frame. He's explosive and he's got a great punch. He runs well, blocks well. There's a ton of things he does very well for being such a large kid.

"He's going to need to gain some weight, but that will come with time. He has some very big upside. That's what everyone loved about him."

Pitt is already thin on the offensive line, but will lose senior starters Chris Jacobson and Ryan Turnley after this season. Was early playing time much of a factor?

"He had mentioned he would like to play early," Krepps said. "But, he understands this is a process. It's an uphill battle like anything else. He understands what to expect, and that there's a lot to learn."

One other thing that Krepps likes about Chryst and about his player's decision, is the fact that the staff is making a concentrated effort to keep the top local prospects at home. Look no further than Johnson taking an official visit with Robert Foster and Tyler Boyd. Krepps adds there's a certain comfort level as a high school head coach, knowing that Pitt has a good in with the top prospects in the area.

"I think it's great, and I think (Chryst) is doing a great job," Krepps said. "He's really putting a focus on the WPIAL; putting the fence up. They got a couple guys in the last year, that if it continues to build upon itself--especially with local guys, the younger classes, the guys down the road can only want to belong.

"I think they're well on their way with a few more guys they need to get, just getting a few more pieces to fall."

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