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Paris in Pittsburgh

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Paris Ford is a recognizable name not only among his Steel Valley High School teammates, but among major college football recruiters as well.

The 6-2, 185-lb. safety is one of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2017 and Pennsylvania’s No. 1 ranked safety.

According to Steel Valley head coach Rod Steele, Ford’s coverage skills, tenacity and aggressiveness are exceptional.

“He does things that average high school athletes cannot do,” Steele said. “He is at a different level and plays with fire. You just can’t replace a player like that.”

In October of his junior year at Seton-LaSalle, Ford committed to Pitt and head coach Pat Narduzzi. He then transferred to Steel Valley after the school year ended but still plans attend Pitt during the fall semester next year.

“Pitt was the leader on my list for about two months,” Ford said before committing. “I just never came out and said anything. I just figured I know the school I’m most comfortable with, so why wait?”

Pitt's seconday has been one of the team's few weaknesses this season, so his skill set will be welcomed in Oakland next fall.

“I expect him to be a multi-year starter at Pitt,” Rivals.com recruiting expert Chris Peak said. “He could contribute as soon as next season, even if it's not in a starting role. If he can master the safety position, he is talented enough to even earn some snaps on offense.”

Ford has high-hopes for the Pitt Panthers, believing they can win the Atlantic Coast Conference during his first season. But despite such optimism, one challenge Ford will face as he makes his way to his first collegiate game is learning the playbook. Not to mention also showing Pitt coaches he is capable of handling the responsibilities.

Peak explained how it’s tough to project because you never know how well freshmen will learn offense and defense, how they will take to the faster game and how they will adapt to college life.

But as far as physical ability, Ford has his athleticism. He is big, fast, rangy and isn’t afraid of being physical on either side of the ball, allowing him to easily translate well to several positions.

“Ford is among the most physically-gifted prospects in the state,” Peak said. “There are few recruits right now who can match his combination of size and athleticism.”

In the minds of recruiters, coaches, teammates and fans, Ford possesses the physical performance of a star player. Universities such as Florida, Alabama, Ohio State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Penn State all offered Ford scholarships -- before and after he verbally committed to Pitt.

“If he does what is expected of him, he should be a significant contributor in his Pitt career with a chance to play in the NFL,” Peak said.

With his brother, Darrin Walls, playing for the New York Jets, Ford has his biggest inspiration of all.

“It’s crazy to see that my brother’s even in the NFL,” Ford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “knowing that’s been my dream since I was about 3 or 4 years old.”

As recognizable as Ford’s name is in the halls of Steel Valley, he is determined to have people know it outside of the WPIAL. He appears to be well on his way.

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