UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State coach Bill OBriens first WPIAL commitment is a big one. Literally and figuratively.
Belle Vernon offensive lineman Dorian Johnson orally committed to Penn State on Sunday night after visiting the schools campus this past Saturday.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Johnson is rated the states No. 2 offensive lineman, according to Rivals.com. Johnson selected Penn State over Pitt, West Virginia and Ohio State.
Johnson, who plays offensive and defensive line for Belle Vernon, made his final visit to Penn State on Saturday after he previously attended the Blue-White game in April. He also attended a regular-season game at Beaver Stadium last fall.
The rising senior sat down with his family and current coach Aaron Krepps shortly after Saturdays visit. In the end, Johnson was content with State College and Penn States University Park campus.
He said he felt very comfortable on campus, Krepps said. I think it was obviously a family decision and his family was on board with him. That was the impression that I got, that he was comfortable being there. He liked the facilities, he liked the coaching staff a lot and he said he thought it was a very good fit for him.
And Johnson, rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, will be a good fit for Penn State. Once he signs a letter of intent, Penn State can bank on having a physical lineman who plays a hard-nosed style of football, Krepps said.
Dorians a very aggressive, physical lineman, a very tough kid, Krepps said. Thats what theyre going to be getting. Hes a stud at our level and I would expect them to be getting the same type of athlete when he gets to Penn State.
Until then, Johnson still has room to grow.
In addition to adding size to his already-big frame, Johnson will be taking a more active role in other capacities with the Leopards for his senior season.
Hes still got a lot of things (to work on), Krepps said. His senior year, Im expecting him to take a much larger leadership role on the team, be more (vocal).
He does everything thats asked. He works his tail off but hes got to take that vocal leadership role over this year. To go along with that, the status, now being a Division I commitment, guys look up to him because of his work ethic and his character.
While Johnson will likely line up as an offensive tackle once he arrives at Penn State, Krepps is expecting a bigger role out of his star player on the defensive side of the ball this season. Belle Vernon could use the defensive help after finishing last season 4-6.
Technique, his play, finishing everything, chasing the ball offensively and just trying to be a bigger force defensively for us, Krepps said.
Johnson is the third offensive linemen in Penn States 2013 recruiting class. Randolph (N.J.) High Schools Brendan Mahon and Hersheys Andrew Nelson committed to Penn State earlier this year. The Nittany Lions now has 12 commitments from rising seniors.
The commitment ends a western Pennsylvania recruiting drought for Penn State. Tight end Jesse James is the only former WPIAL standout in Penn States 2012 recruiting class. James committed to Penn State before OBrien was hired to replace Joe Paterno.
The Nittany Lions 2011 recruiting class included no WPIAL prospects.
Running backs Charles London, who covers part of western Pennsylvania for OBrien, was heavily involved in Johnsons recruitment, Krepps said. Johnson represents OBrien and his staffs first head-to-head recruiting victory with Pitt in western Pennsylvania.
I was comfortable with both schools and their coaching staffs, Johnson told the Tribune-Review on Sunday. I like Penn States campus and felt like I would get a good education. Youre playing big-time football.
Travis Johnson can be reached at 231-4629. Follow him on Twitter @traviswjohnson_
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy