Noah Palmer brings local flair to Pitt defense


Noah Palmer played defensive end and tight end while attending Thomas Jefferson High School in Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of Noah Palmer)

By Alex Lehmbeck, Staff Writer

Noah Palmer finished his high school football career with a win at Heinz Field. The 2018 Pitt football signee is hoping for many more victories in the stadium during the next four years — but this time in a blue and gold uniform.

Palmer is listed as a 6-foot-4, 215-pound strong-side defensive end by, and ranked No. 29 in the state of Pennsylvania. The three-star recruit chose Pitt over mostly mid-major programs, such as Army, Buffalo, Miami (Ohio) and Robert Morris.

The Pitt coaching staff and proximity to home were the biggest factors in his decision, as Palmer attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania.

During his high school career, he played both defensive end and tight end for the Jaguars. He earned first-team all-conference defensive end honors in 2016, and he returned an interception for a touchdown during the 2016 Jaguars’ state championship 42-0 blowout at Heinz Field.

Palmer is not the only Jaguar joining Pitt’s roster in 2018. His high school teammate, Devin Danielson, committed to Pitt in June 2017.

“Me and Devin both know each other very well,” Palmer said. “We know our playing styles. We know what we need to do to be successful. It’s great when one of us needs that extra boost at practice, to get ready for a game and play to our full potential.”

Palmer and Danielson anchored a dominant line on one of the best defenses in the state. During the Jaguars’ 27-0 victory in the 2017 WPIAL championship, the defensive front held Montour to just 18 yards rushing on 27 carries. The Jaguars also became the first team in 29 years to win a WPIAL championship without giving up a single point in the playoffs.

“We got together as a team and we stressed that we can’t make mistakes,” Palmer said. “We gotta play smart, play hard and limit the mental errors. We came together and shut out every team in the playoffs and made a run.”

(Photo courtesy of Noah Palmer)

During his time at Thomas Jefferson, Palmer played for head coach Bill Cherpak, a former Pitt offensive lineman. Cherpak started for the Panthers for three years before suffering a career-ending injury in 1989. At Thomas Jefferson, Cherpak has built a powerhouse program, becoming the all-time winningest coach in the school’s history.

Since Cherpak became head coach 22 years ago, the Jaguars have won 10 conference championships and seven WPIAL championships, with a win percentage of .849 during this period. Cherpak was also inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame last year.

“He definitely made me the person I am today,” Palmer said. “He stresses mental toughness. You always have to do everything full speed, 100 percent and never take a play off. In life, you’ve got to do everything to the fullest potential that you can and work hard.”

Palmer is excited about his new coach, Pat Narduzzi, who just signed a new seven-year contract, saying that Narduzzi’s energy was one of the most appealing aspects of the program.

“Being close to my family was very important,” Palmer said. “The coaching staff was very enthusiastic about me being there. They wanted me there, so that’s where I wanted to be.”