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Penn State Football

Coverage of Penn State’s 2023 Early National Letter of Intent Signing Day

Early signing day is here. Follow along as Nittany Sports Now keeps you posted on the 23 players expected to officially become Penn State Nittany Lions today.

Update (11:35 a.m.)— Ta’Mere Robinson has signed with Penn State. Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 210 edge rusher from Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Robinson is the number three player in Pennsylvania, the No. 29 edge rusher, and the No. 253 player nationally, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

Robinson was injured in October of 2021 and spent last year recovering from his knee injury.

Robinson has played middle linebacker, outside pass rusher, slot corner and safety for Brashear.

He has the agility and athleticism to make an impact similar to Micah Parsons and Abdul Carter before him.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz wanted Robinson at Penn State for a long time.
“For Penn State to be what it needs to be,” Diaz remembered saying in the spring. “We have to get Ta’Mere Robinson.”

Update (11:27 a.m.)— Lyons is officially a Nittany Lion. Lyons (6-foot-4, 255 pounds) is an in-state product who committed to Penn State in late-April, the day before the school’s annual Blue-White Game. Lyons is a four-star from Philly’s Roman Catholic High School who is Penn State’s highest-rated defensive end, according to the composite ratings.


Update (11:12 a.m.)— Hail to the King. King Mack is officially a Penn State Nittany Lion. Mack (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) is a four-star safety and the fourth-highest-rated Penn State signee according to 247Sports’ Composite Ratings. Mack was a star for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he helped his team to a state championship days before signing.
King was introduced by former Penn State and current Carolina Panthers defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos.
“To me, King, you have it all, man…,” Franklin said. “I see you as a future captain at Penn State.”


Update (11:04 a.m.)— As introduced by former Penn State and current Denver Broncos receiver KJ Hamler, Carmelo Taylor, a 6-foot-0, 160-pound four-star wide receiver out of Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, has signed with Penn State.

Taylor is the number seven player in Virginia, the No. 49 wide receiver, and the No. 350 player nationally, according to 247Sports. Taylor committed to Penn State in August.

What Taylor Brings to Penn State is speed at the receiver position, and his 10.59 100-meter dash time will back up.

Taylor is an electric runner after the catch that can turn a five-yard gain into a 50-yard gain. Taylor needs to get stronger putting on 10-15 pounds, but once he does, he will be a force at the power five level.

Franklin said Taylor is “probably faster” than Hamler, a receiver known for his speed, was at the same age.


Update (10:40 a.m.)—

Update (10:32 a.m.)— London Montgomery, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound three-star running back out of Scranton Prep High School in Scranton, Pennsylvania, has signed with Penn State.
Montgomery is the number eight player in Pennsylvania, the No. 25 running back and the No. 371 player nationally, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Montgomery signed with Penn State in July.
Montgomery suffered an ACL tear in a preseason scrimmage before this past season, and he is currently rehabbing.
Montgomery figures to use 2023 to recover and become fully healthy and will likely redshirt.
Franklin told Montgomery via Zoom that he sees Montgomery as the next great Penn State running back and that he’s the “best-kept secret” in this year’s class nationally.

Update (10:27 a.m.)— Zion Tracy, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound cornerback out of St. Thomas More Prep School in Oakdale, Connecticut, has signed with Penn State.

Tracy is the number one player in Connecticut, the No. 23 cornerback, and the No. 200 player nationally, according to On3 recruiting.

Tracy committed to Penn State on Sept. 10 during its home opener against Ohio.

Tracy is a converted wide receiver that shone in camps throughout the summer, especially on the weekend of the Lasch Bash.

Tracy is an older freshman that is still new to the position. But cornerbacks coach Terry Smith can work with him, and he is a candidate to get playing time early in his career at Penn State.
Introducing Tracy was
“Welcome to Lockdown U,” cornerbacks coach Terry Smith told Tracy via Zoom.



Update (10:05 a.m.)— Kaveion Keys, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker from Varina High School in Richmond, Virginia, has signed with Penn State.

Keys is the number four player in Virginia, the No. 21 linebacker and the No. 279 player nationally, according to 247Sports Composite Rankings.

He committed to North Carolina in August. He signed with Penn State Dec. 16.

Keys can play the off-ball linebacker position in the 4-3 and has the skills to play on the edge in sub-package situations.

He has the frame to put on 20-25 pounds without sacrificing his speed and agility.

Update (9:55 a.m.)—

As introduced by former Penn State and Kanas City Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali, four-star edge rusher Joseph Mupoyi (6-foot-5, 235-pounds) has signed his national letter of intent to play at Penn State. Mupoyi is a four-star recruit on both On3 and ESPN. All four major outlets have him ranked among the top five players in Connecticut and among the top 60 edge rushers in the country. He signed recently Dec. 12 and attended St. Thomas More in Oakdale, Connecticut.
“Enjoy today…” Franklin said. “Let everybody know how special this is and how much you appreciate them.”

Update (9:40 a.m.)— Penn State’s lone commit from the state of Alabama has signed. DaKaari Nelson (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) committed to Penn State in June. Nelson, who had a brilliant career at Selma High School in Alabama, is listed as a safety but could become a linebacker at the college level.

“I could see you being a future captain for us,” Franklin told Nelson via Zoom.
Former Penn State and current Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker announced Nelson’s signing.

Update (9:30 a.m.)— Consensus three-star edge rusher Mason Robinson (6-foot-3, 230-pounds) has signed his national letter of intent with Penn State. Robinson is ranked as the No. 9 recruit in the state of Maryland by Rivals and the No. 34 edge rusher in the country by the same outlet. While all four outlets have him among the top 20 in the state, no other outlet has him among the top 50 edge rushers in the country. He comes from McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland.
Robinson signed at his old middle school.

Update (9:12 a.m.)— Three-star running back Cam Wallace has signed with Penn State. Wallace is a three-star from Montgomery County, Georgia who committed Monday. Wallace was introduced by former Penn State CB Grant Haley.

“I can’t wait to get you here,” running backs coach JaJuan Seider said.

Update (8:58 a.m.)— The highest-rated tight end in Penn State’s Class has signed. Andrew Rappleyea (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) committed to Penn State back in April, flipping from Michigan. Rappleyea is a four-star tight end from Massachusetts’ Milton Academy. His home is in Millbrook, New York.

Rappleyea is one of two four-star tight ends to commit to Penn State, with Joey Schlaffer (Exeter Township) being the other.  Another commit, four-star Mathias “Mega” Barnwell (Fredericksburg, Virginia) is a three-star that will also be a tight end.

Former Penn State and current Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth announced the signing.

Update (8:48 a.m.)— J’Ven Williams has signed with Penn State. Williams (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) is Penn State’s lone five-star signee, and an in-state product. He’ll be coming to Penn State after a fantastic career at Wyomissing High School near Reading. Along with becoming one of the nation’s top high school offensive linemen, Williams starred in track at Wyomissing, setting winning a state championship and setting a Pennsylvania record in shot-put this past spring.

Williams committed to Penn State back in February, becoming the sixth player to join the class.

“You have 16 days left, you have an unbelievable support system,” Franklin told Williams. “Take advantage of these 16 days.”

“This is a blessing for us. I hope it’s a blessing for you. We’ll be with you every step of the day.”

Update (8:38 a.m.)— Consensus three-star quarterback commit Jaxon Smolik (6-foot-1, 205-pounds) has signed his national letter of intent for Penn State. All four outlets rank him as a top 10 player from the state of Iowa and his lowest quarterback ranking nationally is No. 36 (On3) whereas his highest is No. 24 (Rivals). He originally committed to Penn State on August 12, 2022 and is from Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Franklin told Smolik he feels he represents the “blue-collar” program that Penn State is. Current Penn State quarterbacks Sean Clifford, Drew Allar and Beau Pribula announced Smolik’s signing.

“I think you’re the steal of the QB class,” Franklin said.

Update (8:24 a.m.)— The lone interior defensive lineman in Penn State’s 2023 class has signed. Tyriq Blanding  (6-foot-3, 265 pounds) is a three-star DL from Christ the King High School in Middle Village, New York. He committed to Penn State in June.

Former Penn State star Jimmy Kennedy, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2003, made the announcement.

“Make sure you send me a picture later of on of you and grandma hugging, ok?” coach James Franklin told Blanding via Zoom.

Update (8:13 a.m.)— As announced by former Penn State and current Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Marcus Allen, four-star Pennsylvania defensive back Lamont Payne (6-foot, 190-pounds) has signed his national letter of intent for Penn State. Payne is a four-star only on Rivals, who also rank him as the No. 4 player in the state of Pennsylvania and the No. 35 defensive back in the country. No other outlet has him in their top 10 in the state or top 50 in the country. He comes from WPIAL school Chartiers Valley in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.

Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said Payne was “probably the driving force” of this class. He’s been committed since September of 2021.

Update (7:54 a.m.)— As announced by Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Michael Menet, Penn State has signed Joey Schlaffer, a four-star tight end from Exeter High School in Reading, Pennsylvania. Schlaffer, Barnwell and Andrew Rappleyea are the three tight ends in Penn State’s 2023 Class. Schlaffer and Menet are brothers.

Franklin told Schlaffer to make the most of his time at home before coming to Penn State in a little more than two weeks.

“I think these 16 days are important, that you handle that the right way. You have so many people that have poured their heart and souls into you over the last 18 years… you haven’t gotten here by yourself.”

Penn State’s tight end trio of Brenton Strange, Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren played solid football this season, and Schlaffer is excited to have a chance to make his mark.

“They call them the aces, because that’s the ace in the hole of our offense,” Schlaffer said. “That speaks volumes about the success that they’ve had.

Update (7:44 a.m.)— Four-star interior offensive lineman Anthony Donkoh (6-foot-5, 315-pounds) has signed his national letter of intent for Penn State on Early Signing Day. Donkoh is a four-star on On3 and 247Sports, also ranking among the top 10 in his state and top 20 for his position national on both outlets. He was an early commit, committing back on January 28, 2022, and comes from Lightridge High School in Aldie, Virginia.

Update (7:37 a.m.)— Elliot Washington (6-feet, 195 pounds), has signed with Penn State on Early Signing Day. Washington is a four-star defensive back who committed to Penn State in July, flipping from Alabama July 8. Washington is a four-star and the fifth-highest rated signee in this year’s class according to 247Sports Composite. He’ll be coming to Penn State after a stellar career at Venice High School.

Update (7:31 a.m.)— The first of three linebackers that committed to Penn State in this recruiting cycle has signed. Tony Rojas (6-foot-1.5, 200 pounds) committed to Penn State this past July.  Rojas, a four-star signee, is the third-highest-rated member of Penn State’s Class behind Williams and Birchemier, according to 247’s Composite Ratings.

Like Birchmeier and four other Penn State commits, Rojas is from Virginia, where he became a star at Fairfax High School.

Update (7:21 a.m.)— Mathias “Mega” Barnwell and Alex Birchmeier have signed with Penn State. Barnwell is a three-star tight end from Riverbend High School in Fredericksberg, Virginia.

Alex Birchmeier (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) committed to Penn State in July 2021 and has kept his commitment for more than 17 months. Birchmeier is a four-star and the No. 1 high school interior offensive lineman in the country from his class according to 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Birchmeier is enrolling early at Penn State. A drawback to that is that he can’t pursue a third Virginia state wrestling championship.

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