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Penn State Football Recruiting

Farrell Files: Momentum Building for Penn State Football’s Class of ’24; Breaking Down ’23 OL Class

J'Ven Williams holding his trophy, standing next between coach Ty Smith and his stepson, assistant track coach Evan Niedrowski, who threw javelin and played football at Wyomissing. (Photo courtesy of Wyomissing Track Head Coach James Delp)

Penn State football is coming off a good 2023 class and are making some noise in 2024. Here’s the latest Farrell Files: PSU edition as I take a look at the offensive line class and more.

Penn State’s 2024 class is in solid shape so far in my opinion. It has two four star commitments in OL Cooper Cousins and LB Anthony Speca and is on the narrowed down lists of many elite players as we head to the spring. Whether they close on some of these players is another issue, but coach James Franklin can recruit with the best of them and the foundation of a top 15 class is being built.

A few key guys in my opinion are TE Max LeBlanc, DB Noah Jenkins and WR Keylen Adams. Penn State’s TE recruiting has been as elite as any program short of Georgia in the last few years and that momentum is showing. LeBlanc has PSU in his top eight, so this is far from over and Penn State has stiff competition from Ohio State, Michigan, his home state Tennessee and Stanford. Penn State needs to get a visit this spring or summer from the 6-5, 245-pounder who some are undervaluing.

Penn Stare football may be in the last half of this top eight, and landing multiple TEs in 2023 could hurt. But LeBlanc wants fit and he wants academics and PSU has both. Franklin still has some ties down in Tennessee, and this kid hails from Canada where PSU does well. So it could move up on the list. But that next visit is huge.

Jenkins has Penn State in his top five with Virginia Tech, Pitt, South Carolina and Ole Miss joining Penn State. I’m intrigued by him because he’s from Highland Springs in Virginia, and PSU has WR coach Marques Hagans on staff now. Hagans has Virginia connections and PSU already does well in the state. Hagans is an offensive coach and all, but Virginia is an interesting state to recruit as everyone knows everyone. As a former high school player and long time coach in the state, Hagans will be an asset. Adams loved his recent visit to Penn State and they are in good shape here.

Finally, Adams is from Hagans’s old stomping grounds in Virginia Beach. Overall, Penn State has a good shot here for the 6-1, 175-pounder. But there’s an issue: Alabama just offered. So, his top four of Penn State, Virginia Tech, Pitt and West Virginia is now a top five. With that said, I like Penn State’s chances here.

Now, let’s break down the 2023 OL class. It’s a good one. Chimdy Onoh was a nice, late recruiting win over Ole Miss and Michigan State. The 6-6, 270-pounder was a highly-coveted late bloomer. The level of competition he plays is poor, and he’ll need time to adjust to the speed of edge rushers in the Big Ten. From a technique standpoint, he’s raw as heck. But he’s athletic and physical and he’s an accomplished run blocker which will help him early.

Anthony Donkoh, another Virginia guy, is also a bit rough around the edges. He’s a road grader and mauler inside and will play physically, but from a technical standpoint, he needs to keep his pad level lower and get a little lighter on his feet.

The last two are where things are good. I have OG Alex Birchmeier and OT J’Ven Williams as five stars; they are just elite. Birchmeier has the rare combination of footwork, power, leverage and athleticism and he just mirrors so well. Williams has a higher ceiling as a tackle but is further away. Nonetheless, you can’t teach his size, athletic ability and length. I think Birchmeier and Williams are going to be part of one of the best OLs in the Big Ten in a couple of years.

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