North Penn’s versatile Earle verbally commits to Lafayette

TOWAMENCIN — Keith Earle does a little bit of everything as a defensive end.

“Like I talked to with these recruiters, he understands, he’s got a good feel for the game,” North Penn coach Dick Beck said. “He’s not just big and strong, but he can play pressure with the best of them, he can play contain, he can squeeze the kickout, he can rush the passer, he can drop in coverage, he can be very versatile for us.”

So when it came time for the senior Knight to decide what college he would continue his career at, Earle picked the place that had a little bit of everything as he verbally committed to Lafayette earlier this month.

“I just wanted to fit all aspects — academics, athletics and everything else,” he said. “My parents thought it was a great fit for me of the three colleges in mind. Just all around, it was a good fit.”

Earle opted for the Leopards, who play in the Football Championship Subdivision, over Patriot League rival Lehigh and Monmouth, a member of the Big South Conference.

“They’re all great programs, but academically I think, (Lafayette has) the major I want,” said Earle, who is looking to earn a degree in civil engineering.

Lafayette went 5-6 in 2014 under coach Frank Travani, who is entering his 16th season at the Easton school. North Penn grad Kyle Mayfield, who ran for over 1,000 yards with the Knights in 2011 and 2012, is a junior tailback for this year’s Leopards squad.

Along with being a standout on the defensive line, Earle is a team captain and plays on offense at tight end for a North Penn squad coming off a 7-4 season that ended with a loss to West Chester Henderson in the District 1-AAAA first round.

“Good leader, great kid on and off field the field,” said Beck of Earle. “Good student, hard worker, doesn’t say much, just goes about his business and works hard. He’s one of our A-plus kids.”

Earle was an All-Suburban One League National Conference first team pick at defensive end, helping North Penn rebound for a tough non-conference start to go 6-1 in National play and share the title with Pennsbury.

“I want people to know I’m a pass rusher. If it’s third down and long you got to prepare for me,” he said.
The Knights’ defense struggled early last season, giving up an average of 388 total yards and 29 points per contest during a 1-2 start. But the group improved over the final eight games, allowing 274 total yards and 18 points per game as the Knights went 6-2. North Penn also shut out Abington 28-0 in the regular-season finale to secure its share of the SOL National crown.

As it did in 2014, North Penn begins this season with matchups against Philadelphia Catholic League sides La Salle and West Catholic. Week Three has the Knights visiting Ches-Mont side Downingtown East in the first meeting between the teams since NP beat the Cougars 49-33 in the district second round in 2009. The Knights have not had a winning record entering conference play since 2010.

“If we can get a good start first three games, the past two seasons I was here, we really had to fight (to make it into the) in the playoffs,” Earle said. “If we can these first three games and be good against these guys who’s obviously playoff teams as well.”

Earle is one of three all-conference selections back on the NP defense. Junior Ricky Johns made the first team at linebacker while senior Nyfease West was a second-team pick at defensive back.

“We definitely have some talent back there,” Earle said. “Just to play last year with those same guys, we already know how these other teams work and what their game plan (is), so we can get our talents back there and improve from last season, we can make a push.”

As a tight end, Earle should also be a factor as the Knights try to boost a passing attack that went for only 65.8 yards a game last year. Early was third on the team in receiving yards with 126 on six catches and one touchdown — a 57-yarder in the 47-22 win over Pennridge.

“He’s a big target. He’s 6-1, 230 pounds, got good hands, runs well,” Beck said. “If we can get him the ball down field, if we can get him the ball in the flat, we’re going to try to get him the ball however we can.”

Top Photo: North Penn receiver Keith Earle (84) pulls in a touchdown pass past Pennridge defender Riley Hager (17) during first-half action of their contest at North Penn High School on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

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