Pennsylvania High School Players in the NFL Draft

With the 2023 NFL Draft beginning Thursday, let’s take a look at the history of Pennsylvania high school graduates throughout the history of the draft. The following data is as complete as I could make it at the moment, but small tweaks will likely be made if and when additions and corrections are to be found.

Here is a list of every player from a Pennsylvania high school who has been drafted into the NFL since the first draft in 1936.

Here is a list of every Pennsylvania player drafted into the AFL (1960-1966).

Here are all of the players from Pennsylvania drafted into the short-lived All-America Football Conference (1947-1949).

[UPDATE: Thanks to the suggestion of Bob Greenburg, I’ve added a list of players drafted by the NFL, AFL, and AAFC sorted by their high school. Now you can easily view every draftee from a high school. Here is the link.]

On a school-by-school basis, eight high schools have had at least 15 draftees (counting players twice if they were picked by two leagues) across these three professional leagues. All of these schools are current WPIAL members with the exception of Bethlehem Liberty, Johnstown (which left the WPIAL in 2000), and Altoona, which has been a WPIAL member at times over the years.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic23
Bethlehem Liberty15

Bethlehem Liberty (15), Allentown Allen (14), Hazleton (13) have the most selections by non-WPIAL schools. This total includes players who may have attended multiple schools (such as Micah Parsons, who gives both Central Dauphin and Harrisburg one draft selection each). There are likely a few inconsistencies in this list due to high schools changing their names over the years (like Neumann-Goretti, which used to be St. John Neumann High School), but this data should be nearly entirely complete. See the list of every school with a draftee here.

There likely aren’t many surprises when it comes to the most common colleges attended by Pennsylvania HS grads who were drafted, other than perhaps Miami’s presence in the top 10:

Penn State188
West Virginia57
Notre Dame48
Miami (FL)29
Ohio State27

Player positions are sometimes very fluid in the draft process and players in the two-way era were usually only listed by their offensive position, but here are the ten most common positions played by Pennsylvania grads who were drafted:

Back (TB, HB, FB, etc.)140
Running Back132
Defensive Back104
Wide Receiver67

As for the teams that have drafted the most Pennsylvanians, there aren’t many surprises here, either:

Dallas Texans1

The number of drafted Pennsylvania players has dropped greatly over time. There are many reasons for this, but two stand out to me: fewer players are drafted today and the concentration of football talent has largely shifted south and west over the past 50 years or so. In 1976, there were 487 total selections in the NFL Draft. Today, that number fluctuates between about 253 and 260 depending on compensatory picks, so the total volume of selections is much lower today.

The peak years for Pennsylvanians in the NFL Draft came from the mid-1940s through the late-1960s. From 1942 through 1971, there were only two NFL Drafts where fewer than 20 Pennsylvanians were selected. In twelve of those drafts, more than thirty players from the state were selected, with an all-time high of 39 in 1957. Compare that to more modern times, when only three drafts since 2005 have seen 10 Pennsylvanians chosen. The last time twenty players from the state were drafted in one year was 1984.

When it comes to first round picks, Pennsylvania high schools have produced 94 of them in the NFL Draft, from Boyd Brumbaugh of Steel Valley in 1938 to Jahan Dotson of Nazareth last year. A list of all Pennsylvanian first round picks can be found here.

The 1956 draft was the high-water mark for the state, with four alums going in the top 10 and five in the top 12. Bob Pellegrini (Shannock Valley) went 4th, Joe Marconi (East Bethlehem) went 6th, Jack Losch (Williamsport) went 8th, Lenny Moore (Reading) went 9th, and Ed Vereb (Pittsburgh Central Catholic) went 12th.

The following schools have had multiple first round selections:

Bethlehem Liberty2
Monsignor Bonner2
New Castle2
Penn Charter School2
Penn Hills2
Pittsburgh Central Catholic2
Roman Catholic2

That’s a decent amount of info to digest, so we’ll stop there. Please send any corrections or additions my way and, as always, thanks for reading.

All-Time PIAA Championship Game Statistics: 2022 Update

Thanks to the tremendous work of Shayne Schafer, team and individual statistics have been updated from every PIAA State Final ever played, from the first games in 1988 through last year’s contests. 

In the link below, you’ll find a listing of every touchdown ever scored, every player who ever recorded a carry, pass attempt, reception or kicking point, and team stats for every game in the state championship game era.

Anyone is free to use this database, but please remember to credit Shayne (who did the lion’s share of this) and PFH for the research.


All-State Player Database, 1939-2021

A database of every All-State football selection, one of the biggest projects I’ve ever attempted on this site, has finally been completed. It was begun in 2015, put on the shelf for a long time, and finally completed following about seven months of work throughout 2022. The result: a listing of all 18,836 known All-State football players from the first Associated Press team in 1939 through last season’s selections.

Before getting to the results of this project, there are a few things that I should detail and explain. This was a massive project and it will be beneficial to understand the caveats that may exist in the data:

  • This data is based upon the All-State teams selected by five sources:
    1. The Associated Press (1939-2008). This was the original All-State selection source and was the only selector in the state for various stretches of time.
    2. The Pennsylvania Football Writers (2009-Present). In early incarnations it was called the Pennsylvania Sports Writers team. This organization of writers from across the state picked up the AP’s mantle when it decided to stop naming teams.
    3. The United Press International (1952-1984). The UPI chose teams were chosen by UPI writers until 1979, when they were selected by college football recruiters. The 1983 and 1984 teams were termed “The UPI Pride of Pennsylvania” teams and selected the 25 best players in the state rather than a full roster of players.
    4. Pennsylvania Football News (1998-Present). PFN chose between two and four teams per year based on classification until recently, when it has picked one team per classification with a larger number of slots (i.e., 3-4 quarterbacks make the team).
    5. PennLive (2018-Present). In 2018, PennLive began picking one offensive and one defensive team representing the best players in the state regardless of class. While it is by far the newest team included in this project, PennLive (and the associated Harrisburg Patriot-News) are, in my mind, the paper of record when it comes to statewide high school football. Thus, I included these teams.

All data from 1939 through 2011 were found in the 2012 Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide. Selections from 2012-Present were found via many hours of internet research.

All State team selectors over time
  • The data is as complete as humanly possible. I’ve checked and re-checked the raw data in this project multiple times, but the size of it still allows the chance for errors to exist. I know there are bound be typos and name misspellings, but I am fairly confident that these should be few and far between. There were at times errors and typos in the source material for this project, but I have done my best to correct those. If you see a missing name and can provide evidence for its inclusion, please let me know ( or @pa_fb_history on Twitter).
  • All-State selections vs. All-State players. On the sheets that show total All-Staters for each school, remember that these count each individual selection, not distinct players. For example, if a player was selected to two different All-State teams in the same year, that counts as two selections for the school’s overall tally.
  • Schools are listed as they appeared in that year’s All-State list. I chose to list a player as representing the school he played for the year he was selected rather than use the school’s current name. This means that, for example, all selections for Downingtown are separated from those from Downingtown East and Downingtown West. The Saylor Record Spreadsheets often lump the “original” school’s statistics in with one of the new versions formed by a high school splitting into multiple buildings, but for consistency’s sake I decided to keep all of the school’s separated. If you’d like, you can simply find all of the past versions of your school’s program and lump their selections together to form an overall number – that’s up to you.
  • Selections are heavily skewed to more recent years. The graph below illustrates how dramatic the rise in overall selections has been over time. This is for a few reasons. First of all, there are currently more services that select All-State teams than there were in various periods of history. Second, those selectors tend to choose more teams (i.e., a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and sometimes 4th team) than in early years of All-State teams. Third, selectors in the modern era often choose separate teams for each classification rather than use the original method of choosing one team for all of the programs in the state. Finally, there are more positions selected today than in the early era. For example, the AP (which began selecting teams in 1939) only chose offensive players until 1969. All of these factors combine to heavily favor more recent dynasties and strong programs than ones that existed prior to the mid-1970s. From 1939-1951, only 33 players were selected each year, with the exception of 1942 and 1944, when only 22 players were chosen. Today, an average of around 700 selections are made each year, with an all-time high of 787 in 2016.

In all, 711 different schools have had at least one All-State selection over the past 83 seasons. Check out all of the data below:

All-State Selections (Listed by School)

All-State Selections (Listed by Year)

School Totals

Top Ten Schools by Total Selections (click the link above to view all schools)

Southern Columbia256
Cathedral Prep183
Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg)176
St. Joseph’s Prep170
Mount Carmel157
Pittsburgh Central Catholic157
State College142


The Pennsylvania Football News Resource Guide, 2012 by Rich Vetock & Tom Elling (teams from 1939-2011) (various teams from 2012-Present) (various teams and research to resolve corrections)

Pennsylvania Football News (PFN teams from 2012-Present)

Alternate Universe PIAA Playoffs: The Illinois System

We’ve all seen commercials for upcoming movies that begin with “In a world where [insert apocalyptic event].“. Today, let’s talk about a world where the PIAA adopted another state’s playoff system in order to crown its state football champions. We’re going to take all 550-plus football-playing schools in Pennsylvania and shove them into the process Illinois uses to determine its champions. Hopefully this serves as a fun thought experiment and exercise to consider the various components that make a state’s playoff system “good.”

Why not stick with the current PIAA system?

First, I’m not advocating for the PIAA to scrap its current setup. To begin with, it’ll never change. Period. And while the way we choose state champs and playoff participants is…well, kind of odd when you think about it, it is rooted in several decades of tradition at this point. But if you haven’t tried this yet, I encourage you to explain our state’s playoff procedure to an acquaintance from another state. It’s not as simple as it may initially seem. Our playoff system, which is dominated by 12 small kingdoms that are loosely associated and Frankensteined together each November and December, can lead to some difficult-to-explain scenarios to the uninitiated. In many states, the overarching organization creates one uniform playoff method. In Pennsylvania, all 12 districts choose their state playoff entries on their own and then they enter in various weeks of the bracket. You may think it works just fine, but it’s nevertheless unique.

Why Illinois?
There are a few reasons why I chose to base this project on how the IHSA determines its playoff fields in Illinois:

  • Illinois is a state that is comparable to Pennsylvania in number of football-playing schools, population, and geographic size (although Illinois is a bit bigger in land area).
  • The system Illinois uses (more on that below) is simple and straightforward, making it easy enough to copy for our uses here.
  • Illinois uses a statewide bracket where all teams enter at the same point, which would eliminate many (if not all) of the bizarre scenarios we face in Pennsylvania where a two-win team plays a one-win team for a district title or subregionals must be formed between multiple districts. In short, it produces a clean, easy-to-follow bracketing procedure.

How does the Illinois system work?

Here’s the meat and potatoes of the statewide playoff system used in Illinois. I’ll add how I’ve modified each step for Pennsylvania, too. Illinois has 8 classes for football and has 32-team brackets for each class, meaning 256 teams make the postseason. To be consistent with our classification structure, I’ll be putting together 6 brackets of 32 teams in Pennsylvania (a total of 192 schools entering the playoffs).

  1. All teams statewide are ranked in order of wins at the end of the regular season (in Illinois, all teams play 9 regular season games). School size is not considered at this point. All 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, and 6-3 teams get into the playoff field. Many years, all 5-4 teams make the playoffs and occasionally a few 4-5 teams can enter, too, if wins must go that low to get 256 total entries. Because much of Pennsylvania plays a 10-week regular season, I’ll use that many games to determine playoff participants (meaning games through the weekend of October 28th will still count toward a team’s playoff position). Also, because we will only take 192 entries in this simulation, the cutoff will be higher, meaning some 6-4 teams won’t be selected.
  2. Ties between schools with the same number of wins are broken by Illinois’ version of power points (or win points, or bonus points, or whatever you’d like to call them). Eastern PA Football posts a similar statistic for all teams statewide, so I’ll use that in this exercise as a close facsimile. I’ll prorate each team’s number to balance out the rating for teams that play varying numbers of regular season games.
  3. All conference champions, regardless of record, automatically qualify into the field. I’ll be using the league rankings page from Eastern PA Football to determine conference champions.
  4. Once the final list of 256 Illinois teams is formed (192 in Pennsylvania), they are re-ranked by school enrollment, largest to smallest. The top 32 schools form 8A, the next 32 are 7A, and so on. Due to this process, a traditional 4A program in Pennsylvania may play in the 5A or 3A playoffs in our simulation depending on how many bigger or smaller schools qualify. In essence, your classification doesn’t really come into effect until/unless you enter the postseason.
  5. Remember those ratings from Step 2? Those are used to seed teams within their classification bracket to form the finalized playoff. So the top-rated 6A team will be paired with the 32nd rated 6A team, the No. 2 6A will play the No. 31 6A, and so on. All of this is done without regard to geographic location in Illinois’ two largest brackets (8A and 7A). For the other six classes, Illinois splits the state into a north bracket and a south bracket to cut down on travel costs. In our thought experiment, I’ll make all six brackets statewide because I think it leads to more interesting matchups and we don’t need to pay for virtual gas. You could see rematches of league/district opponents in Round 1, or you may see a Lehigh Valley team paired with a team from Pittsburgh. It’s a truly statewide bracket.
  6. The final step: you play the games! The top seeds host, although in our fictionalized Pennsylvania bracket neutral sites could potentially be used in extreme circumstances. In the post-COVID world, the PIAA has become much more open to having teams host true home games in the state playoffs, meaning this really wouldn’t be a huge shift in our state.

So what’s next?

After this weekend’s (10-28 to 10/29) games are completed, I’ll run through the steps above and create all six brackets. I’ll publish them either Sunday or early next week. After that, I’ll publish updated fictional brackets each week after simulating that week’s round using either the or Massey ratings websites. Be sure to follow along to see if your team qualifies for the (fictional) postseason and to track how far it goes.

REMEMBER: this is just for fun. If you’re a huge Pennsylvania high school football and/or bracketing nerd like me, it should be fun. If not: I don’t hate your school! I swear!

All-Time State Champions List – 2021 Update

Now that the 2021 PIAA Championships have been decided, take a look at the updated list of all-time Pennsylvania high school football champions here. This list tracks each champion in the PIAA statewide playoff era (1988-present) in addition to annual champions as chosen by the Saylor Rating System (1887-1987).

This year’s champions:

  • Mt. Lebanon (6A)
    • Previous state championships (3): 1958, 1970 & 1981
  • Penn-Trafford (5A)
    • Previous state championships: None
  • Aliquippa (4A)
    • Previous state championships (5): 1952, 1955, 1991, 2003 & 2018
  • Central Valley (3A)
    • Previous state championships (1): 2020
  • Southern Columbia (2A)
    • Previous state championships (11): 1994, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020
  • Bishop Guilfoyle (1A)
    • Previous state championships (3): 2014, 2015 & 2016

It was an historic year in Hershey for the WPIAL, as it became the first district to win four state championships in the same year. Prior to the six-class system’s introduction in 2016, the WPIAL took three-out-of-four titles in 2001, 2005 and 2007.

All-Time PIAA Championship Game Statistics: 2021 Update

Last year, Shayne Schafer and I compiled team and individual statistics from every PIAA State Final ever played, dating back to the first games in 1988. This database has now been updated to include the 2020 title games.

In the link below, you’ll find a listing of every touchdown ever scored, every player who ever recorded a carry, pass attempt, reception or kicking point, and team stats for every game* in the state championship game era.

Anyone is free to use this database, but please remember to credit Shayne (who did the lion’s share of this) and PFH for the research.

* Full team statistics from the 1989 AA Final between Hickory and Montoursville have proven elusive. If you know of where a boxscore for this game can be found, please let me know.


Willie Thrower: A Forgotten Pioneer

On October 18, 1953, a crowd of 40,740 fans at Wrigley Field saw Bears coach George Halas – frustrated by the play of his starting quarterback, George Blanda – send an undrafted rookie into the game to lead his offense. With five minutes left to go and his team down 35-21, Willie Thrower took command of the Chicago offense and completed a pass to the 4-yard-line of their opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. Halas promptly re-inserted Blanda, drawing the ire of his team’s fans: “Blanda and [Fred] Morrison came into the game, and the crowd responded with a resounding razzberry. They wanted Willie to put it over.” Instead, Morrison scored the touchdown.

Thrower would return to the field, ending the game by throwing an interception to San Francisco’s Lowell Wagner. He would never attempt an NFL pass again. But despite going just 3-for-8 for 27 yards, Thrower had made history. He had become the first Black man to play quarterback in the NFL. He would never appear in an NFL game again.

Continue reading “Willie Thrower: A Forgotten Pioneer”

Pennsylvania State Championship Game Records – Team and Individual

A few days ago, we added a page where you can view every touchdown in state title game history. Today (just in time for the 2020 state championship games), we bring you more title game records. Use the links below to view the all-time team and individual results for all of the boxscore statistics @shayne_schafer and I could find. Some stat categories weren’t included in all boxscores, so you’ll see a yellow cell where there’s missing information. These lists will be updated as additional information becomes available.



Points Scored

First Downs

Total Plays

Total Yards

Rushing Attempts

Rushing Yards

Rushing Touchdowns


Passing Attempts

Passing Yards

Passing Touchdowns

Interceptions Thrown


Fumbles Lost


Penalty Yards



Rushing Attempts

Rushing Yards

Rushing Touchdowns


Passing Attempts

Passing Yards

Passing Touchdowns

Interceptions Thrown

NCAA Quarterback Rating


Receiving Yards

Receiving Touchdowns

Total Touchdowns

Points Scored

Pennsylvania Playoff Territory Map, Championship Round

Somehow, some way, we’ve made it to the state finals. Friday and Saturday will feature three games apiece and six teams will leave Hershey as state champions. Let’s take a look at the territory maps one final time, provided as always by friend of the program @SportsPSD. Remember to contact him if you need a helmet or uniform redesign for the 2021 season – he does fantastic work!

Continue reading “Pennsylvania Playoff Territory Map, Championship Round”