Blessed & Honored: Penn State Junior Day Recap

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Fortunately, the snow storm lasted through Sunday, allowing visitors to get to Happy Valley without too much trouble on Saturday. This led to James Franklin and his staff welcoming an impressive number of visitors. Two of the most important were state recruits Ta’Mere Robinson and Quinton Martin.

Robinson is a four-star linebacker and a household name among Nittany Lion fans who follow recruiting closely. The Brashear product is one of the best defensive players in the region for the 2023 cycle, in addition to being one of Penn State’s top targets regardless of position.

Although Robinson has been a regular on campus for the past few months, this was his first time meeting new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. All signs point to Robinson getting along with Diaz and being impressed with the visit. Penn State continues to be Robinson’s likely leader at this point.

Martin is also from the Pittsburgh area and originally from Belle Vernon. At the start of the 2024 rankings, Martin finds himself ranked 40th in the country by 247Sports. While his position at the next level is still unclear, it’s clear that he will be one of the most sought-after recruits not only in Pennsylvania but in the entire country. The more Penn State can bring him to campus and cultivate that relationship, the better.

Staying with visitors to the Pittsburgh area, the Nittany Lions hosted a large number of visitors from Aliquippa. That group included 2024 prospects Brandon Banks and Cameron Lindsey, as well as 2023 product Donovan Walker.

The most significant visitor representing the Quips was 2025 running back Tiqwai Hayes, who is shaping up to be a top rookie.

Hayes was on campus during the season for the Michigan game. He also already holds an offer from the Nittany Lions. Hayes is a player we should see appearing regularly on campus in the years to come.

Although it is a small school. Aliquippa is a powerhouse in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s also a school that Penn State had a hard time recruiting before landing Zuriah Fisher in the 2020 cycle.

While Banks, Lindsey, and Walker may not be scholarship candidates for Penn State, it certainly doesn’t hurt to bring them to campus and continue to build that relationship with Aliquippa. Especially since the Nittany Lions will recruit Hayes heavily.

There were also prospects on campus who made the trip to State College from Florida. That included four-star defensive tackle John Walker.

Walker was offered by the Nittany Lions in October. Penn State then landed in Walker’s Top 5 Schools list it released on Christmas Eve. It was Walker’s first visit to campus, however.

While Walker will have a choice of any major program in the country when he’s ready to make a college decision, the Nittany Lions have put themselves in a better position than might be asked for at this stage of his recruiting. Walker making the trip to State College from Florida at his own expense, especially on a weekend with temperatures well below zero, indicates a lot of interest on his part.

Another four-star prospect from Florida who made it to campus was Walker’s high school teammate and fellow defensive lineman, Derrick LeBlanc. LeBlanc is a top 100 prospect in 247Sports’ composite rankings, while also being ranked 13th nationally by 247Sports. He is one of the top EDGE prospects of the 2023 cycle and has a long-standing relationship with Diaz due to his time in Miami.

Coming back to the area, the Nittany Lions welcomed some of their top 2023 targets from New Jersey State. This included safety Jayden Bonsu.

Bonsu’s recruitment is one that has really started to take off in recent months. In addition to Penn State, he has picked up Power 5 offers from Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Miami, Clemson, Ohio State and USC since November. This was Bonsu’s first visit to campus since being offered in November. The only potential problem with Bonsu is that he attends St. Peter’s preparation. For those who follow Penn State recruiting closely, there is nothing to write home about the relationship between the SPP and Penn State.

Another New Jersey target in 2023 who made it to campus was three-star athlete Moussa Kane.

Kane attends Blair Academy, which produced former Nittany Lion and current Baltimore Raven pass thrower Odafe Oweh. Kane is another recruit who has been a regular on campus for the past few months. It was his fourth visit since June and the Nittany Lions appear to be in charge of recruiting Kane at the moment.

One of the most surprising visitors this past weekend was 2023 quarterback Jake Strong who made the trip to Happy Valley from Texas.

While Strong’s recruiting is just starting to take off, he appears to be a quarterback Mike Yurcich is interested in and high on. Considering Yurcich was the first Power 5 coach to identify/target Drew Allar as a legit quarterback, Yurcich’s eye for the talented QB is to be trusted.

Staying at Texas State, offensive lineman Robert Sweeney also made the trip to campus.

Sweeney’s visit signals a year of interest in the Nittany Lions. If he returns to campus for another visit, Sweeney and the Nittany Lions could be on the hook.

2024 tight end Brady Priekson was on campus for the first time last weekend and walked away with an offer from the Nittany Lions.

Penn State has joined Central Michigan as the second FBS program to offer a scholarship offer to the native of Rochester, Michigan. As Priekson begins to visit more campuses this spring, expect his recruitment to start to explode. The Nittany Lions entering early as his Power 5 offer could help make him a great player for the duration of his recruitment.

An intriguing 2023 offensive lineman who attended Junior Day was Delaware product Anwar O’Neal.

O’Neal does not yet hold an offer from the Nittany Lions, but he does hold FBS offers from Maryland, Temple and Pitt. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, O’Neal appears to have good height and frame to add quality weight as an offensive lineman. This visit was likely going to go a long way in determining whether the Nittany Lions would be willing to offer him or not.

Sam Pendleton was also among the top visitors to the campus offensive line.

The North Carolina product already holds eight Power 5 deals, Pendleton could quite possibly become an elite offensive line target. The Nittany Lions should be the pillars of this recruitment until the end.

Another notable visitor to the offensive line was Virginia 2024 rookie Fletcher Westphal.

Westphal already has an offer from Penn State and could become one of the region’s top offensive linemen for the 2024 cycle. Westphal was also on campus for White Out’s win over Auburn in September.

The elite offensive line visitors continue with Samson Okunlola.

Okunlola is one of the top 40 prospects in Brockton, Massachusetts. Okunlola’s recruiting is still progressing slowly despite being an elite offensive line recruit. Penn State will seek to continue bringing Okunlola onto campus as soon as it can.

State linebacker Semaj Bridgeman also visited campus.

Four-star product Archbishop Wood has been a regular visitor to campus in recent months. Bridgeman is another player who should continue to appear on campus in the coming months and throughout the cycle.

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