He was wearing a Penn State jersey and helmet—as many perspective recruits do— back when he was a high school freshman.
This is what I looked like freshman year now look at me 6’5 255 god blessed pic.twitter.com/YADzZIy12k
— Jameial Lyons (@Mill12k) April 26, 2022
Without context, the picture depicts little more than a high school player having some fun and wearing the jersey of a prominent school, hoping one day to do the same thing in front of 100,000+ people.
But with context, the picture takes on a lot more meaning for both Lyons and his head coach, Rick Prete.
Prete, who spoke with Nittany Sports Now, said Lyons has gained roughly 60 pounds since his freshman year, and now weighs in at 255.
At 6-foot-5, Lyons now has a solid build for a defensive end.
“I think for him,” Prete said, “a light switch may have went off in starting to understand what he is and what he can be.”
Lyons still has time to improve before entering the world of college football, but he’s growing closer to reaching “what he can be.” He’s a three-star recruit according to 247Sports’ composite rankings and a four-star according to the site’s individual rankings, earning offers from 11 Division 1 schools.
Off the field, Prete describes Lyons as “very outgoing” to others once they get to know him.
“He’s very smart,” Prete said, “he cares about those that are around him. He’s the kind of kid that will go out of his way for you. When you initially meet him, you may not think that. You may not get that sense. But as you get to know him, as you open up, he’s a tremendous person.”
And on the field?
“He’s just a superior athlete,” Prete said.
“His ability to impact both the pass game, with his ability to put pressure on the quarterback and his ability to play physically against the run, make him a total package kind of guy.”
Lyons has made a name for himself in Pennsylvania as a defensive end, but his frame can also allow him to play on the defensive front.
247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Brian Doan, in his report on Lyons, wrote that Lyons “offers position versatility at college level as edge or defensive lineman.”
For Prete, where Lyons plays in college will be determined by if and how his body changes.
“It just depends (on) If he stays in that longer, leaner frame, or if he puts on some weight to add to his size,” Lyons said. “I think, either way, he’s going to really excel.
Penn State is known for its rich tradition of quality, punishing defensive football and will look to continue that tradition under first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Although Prete feels Lyons can be a good college football player anywhere, he thinks Penn State is the perfect match.
“I think he fits in anywhere from a scheme standpoint, but I really think it’s a tremendous fit for him,” he said. “I don’t have a clear picture of what coach Diaz wants to do, but their culture has been something that really fits him and really suits him. I think that’s what will allow him to really excel. I think with his work ethic and the way they support their players; I think it’s really going to fit him well.”
Prete said it’s not clear whether Lyons will be coming to Penn State as an early enrollee this winter or in the summer of 2023.
What Prete is confident in, however, is that Lyons will become a star
“My personal opinion is that he’s one of the best players in America,” Prete said. “I think everybody is going to find out.”
Prete summed up his feelings by saying that Penn State fans are “getting a dawg.”
“You may not have known about this guy last year, but by the time it’s all said and done, I think he has a chance to be one of the better ones that have played there,” he said.