R.J. Mukes III had never been on a visit to Penn State before this weekend.
The Class of 2023 ATH from Wayne High School in Dayton, Ohio, came to Happy Valley this past Friday for Penn State’s Whiteout camp held Saturday.
Mukes, a three-star according to Rivals.com, enjoyed the camp, learning new drills and techniques from Penn State wide receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield and talking with offensive line coach Phil Trautwein, who had visited Wayne before.
But something non-football-related that stuck out to him was State College’s scenery. Mukes isn’t used to seeing mountains in Dayton, and he was impressed by the beauty of Central Pennsylvania.
“Where I’m from, it’s more city,” Mukes said. “You see the little trees here and there and a couple of hills, but it’s nothing like (State College). Those mountains were pretty beautiful to see.”
But Mukes didn’t come to Penn State to gawk at Mount Nittany. He came to further his dream of playing Division I college football.
Mukes has 14 offers overall, 13 of which are from Division I schools. Mukes’ most prominent offer at the moment is from Maryland, and he also has offers from schools in Ohio, such as Toledo and Bowling Green. He doesn’t have an offer from Penn State and hopes his experience will help him get one.
“I think I showed how versatile I am as far as route running, my skills and ability,” Mukes said. “So I hope that’s enough for Coach (Stubblefield) and the staff to see.”
RJ Mukes III
— R. J. Mukes III✞ (@MukesRj) November 3, 2021
Mukes, who made first-team all-conference in 2021, describes himself as a versatile player, capable of doing damage on offense and in special teams.
“I can take the top off the defense,” he said. “I can go anywhere as a receiver, inside, outside. Man coverage, my speed and quickness combined with my ability to separate on my route running and stuff like that also. Then I can add in the special teams aspect, too. Punt return, kick return. Just an overall playmaker.”
Receivers with similar builds and skillsets to Mukes (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) have had success at Penn State.
“I know they use receivers my size a lot,” Mukes said. “With receivers like K.J. Hamler, Jahan Dotson, people who can make plays. That’s really what grabbed my interest (in Penn State).”
Mukes also appreciates head coach James Franklin’s emphasis on having a tight-knight culture to sell recruits on Penn State.
“I know they’re a family-oriented program,” he said, “coach Franklin does a great job implementing that in recruiting.”
Over the summer, Mukes plans to visit Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Louisville, Ohio State and Toledo but said those plans could change. Aside from football, Mukes enjoys drawing and writing poetry, the latter a talent he discovered after writing a poem for his grandfather’s funeral. He’s looking to continue to hone his skills in the arts when he gets to college, and after football, whenever that time comes, he hopes to illustrate books and explore the world. Mukes has a cumulative 3.9 GPA and offers from four Ivy League schools as well as Army.
For now, however, Mukes is looking to get more offers over the summer, have a great senior season and go to the best school suited for his talents.
Mukes doesn’t know if Penn State plays into his plans, but he was happy with his first visit.
“I really like the school,” Mukes said. “I really enjoyed my time there. I really would like to come back if they would have me.