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Penn State Football Recruiting

PSU recruiting notebook: A look at TE situation after Bowen’s departure

Photo from Jerry Cross Twitter

Penn State has lost a pair of tight end commits over the past month. Class of 2023 prospect Mathias “Mega” Barnwell decommitted from PSU on Jan. 20, while Class of 2022 standout Holden Staes reneged on his pledge on Feb. 5. Staes’ decision came just days after Penn State tight ends coach Tyler Bowen left the program to join the coaching staff for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Since that time, former Penn State offensive lineman Ty Howle has been promoted to replace Bowen, and if the Nittany Lions follow the same path as they have at quarterback since hiring Mike Yurcich, a slew of new offers could be on the way soon.

At this time, though, let’s look at other potential options to fill the void at tight end in recruiting for 2022.

To this point, Penn State has extended offers to 14 tight ends in 2022, including Staes and current commit Jerry Cross. The latter remains very positive about the program, tweeting this yesterday in response to workout tweet from Pat Freiermuth

Of the dozen other prospects at the position who have garnered an offer from the Nittany Lions, half of them are currently committed elsewhere. While Penn State may still pursue Donovan Green (Texas A&M), Benji Gosnell (Ohio State), Andre Dollar (Oregon), Jack Nickel (Notre Dame), Bennett Christian (Ohio State), and Dax Courtney (Arkansas), the focus here will be on the players who are still weighing their options.

Jake Johnson – Johnson is the top ranked tight end in the Class of 2022, per the 247 Sports Composite. He’s a four-star prospect, and the 85th-rated player overall. Hailing from Watkinsville, Georgia (a popular state for Penn State tight end targets), Johnson is the son of former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson. His football bloodlines extend further, however, as his brother Max was a Class of 2020 signee at quarterback with LSU. Penn State offered Johnson in March 2019, and his other notable offers include LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan.

Jaleel Skinner – Rated as the No. 2 tight end in the class, Skinner is a four-star prospect who is ranked 99th overall. Hailing from Greer, South Carolina, Skinner received his offer from Penn State last March. Over the past month, he’s added offers from Oklahoma and Texas, which joined Clemson, Florida, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, and Oregon as prominent programs that have targeted Skinner.

Elijah Brown – From Dayton, Ohio, Brown is regarded as the 13th best at his position, and the 277th overall player in the Class of 2022. Penn State joined the fray with an offer last April, the 8th offer he received in his recruitment. Since that time, he’s garnered offers from Southern Cal, Wisconsin, Arizona State, Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, and earlier this month, Auburn.

Micah Riley – A three-star talent who is right on the cusp of a four-star distinction, Riley is the 15th best tight end, and 338th ranked player in the class. From Bellevue, Nebraska, Riley has received a lot of interest from the Big Ten, with offers coming from Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Purdue, as well as notable schools like Arizona State, Auburn, and Oregon. Penn State was among the first teams to offer Riley, last April.

Marcus Peterson – Listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Peterson is the smallest member of this group, and he may be considered a big wide receiver. A three-star talent from Lake City, Florida, his offer sheet includes Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, and Tennessee. The Nittany Lions joined that group with an offer in November.

Darren Agu – Unranked in the 247 Composite, Agu boasts a massive frame, at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds. From Rabun Gap, Georgia, Agu received his offer from the Nittany Lions on Tuesday, and tweeted that he can’t wait to visit. At this point, it’s unclear if Penn State prefers him at tight end, or on the defensive side of the ball. He also has collected offers from Arizona State, Auburn, Miami, Michigan State, UNC, and WVU, among others.

Penn State’s current commit, Cross, a four-star talent from Milwaukee, is regarded as the eighth-best tight end in the Class of 2022. With him still in the fold, and with Brenton Strange, Theo Johnson, Zack Kuntz, Tyler Warren, and newcomer Khalil Dinkins all in the tight end room at Penn State, the Nittany Lions likely won’t need to reach for another player at the position if they don’t secure one of their priority targets. Still, the aforementioned players provide plenty of intriguing options for the Nittany Lions as the recruiting class continues to progress.

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