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Penn State Football Recruiting

Breaking: ‘Family Atmosphere’ Draws ’24 WR Peter Gonzalez to Penn State

One of Penn State commit Peter Gonzalez’s first significant football memories occurred during the coin toss of a Pitt-Miami game in his hometown of Pittsburgh. 

Gonzalez’s father, Pete Gonzalez, was Pitt’s starting quarterback in the late 1990s and, in 2015, was an honorary captain before his alma mater took on “The U.”

Pete Gonzalez took his son on the field with him, and years later, the younger Gonzalez still remembers what he thought as he locked arms with Pitt’s captains and looked out at the crowd inside what was then Heinz Field.

“This is incredible.”

As young Peter got older, he became a promising football prospect himself, and Division I schools– including Pitt– wanted him.

But at the end of the day, the school that Gonzalez feels fits him best is Pitt’s in-state rival: Penn State. 

The three-star from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School in Oakland announced his commitment to Penn State Friday night, choosing coach James Franklin’s program over finalists Miami and Virginia Tech.

Despite growing up in Pitt’s backyard and being “Pitt through and through,” Peter Gonzalez felt Penn State was the best fit, and his father and other family members helped him along the way.

“I think, growing up, and with my dad being a legacy there, that it’s always kind of been a kid’s dream to play for his dad’s alma mater,” Gonzalez told Nittany Sports Now before making his commitment official. “But through this process, we’ve kind of just narrowed things down to what was best for me, and Penn State felt like the best choice.”

So why did Penn State feel like the best choice?

Well, for one, the school has been targeting Gonzalez for a while, offering him in February 2022. Gonzalez has developed bonds with associate head coach Terry Smith– who is from and has a presence in the Pittsburgh area–, head coach James Franklin and, more recently, wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, who Penn State hired away from the University of Virginia in January.

Gonzalez took his official visit to Penn State the weekend before his commitment, and that visit is what sealed the deal.

“It really just showed me a different side that this place is a family atmosphere,” Gonzalez said, “a family environment, and a place that (I can) not only grow as a football player but as a person.

“I had a great weekend with the guys and the staff. After that visit, I knew for sure that that’s where I wanted to be. It felt like family there, and it felt like a place where I can achieve everything I want to achieve.” 

Along with Penn State’s coaching staff, another of Gonzalez’s key recruiters has been his Central Catholic teammate, four-star linebacker Anthony Speca. 

Speca committed to Penn State in January and is one of Gonzalez’s closest friends, and learning about Speca’s recruiting experience was something Gonzalez feels was “the most impactful” during his process.

“To be able to get that unbiased player perspective, because that’s my teammate, that’s my friend. I know that he wouldn’t lie to me about what’s going on. So that’s been very important. Being able to see his experience and what he’s going to end up doing one day and me wanting to be a part of that.”

So, what type of player is Penn State getting in Peter Gonzalez?

“Dominant is probably the word I would use, just because of my size,” Gonzalez said. “I’m 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. I have speed to go with that. I run a 4.49. So I feel like that combination is dangerous on the football field, especially at the receiver position.”

Gonzalez has been up solid numbers at Central Catholic. Despite missing three games due to a knee injury last season, he ended the year with eight touchdowns and 737 yards on 42 catches. 

When Gonzalez went to Beaver Stadium for Penn State’s White Out game against Minnesota last October, coach James Franklin told him and all the fellow recruits, of which there were many, to close their eyes and picture themselves playing in that environment. 

Now, that’s close to being a reality.

Through it all, Gonzalez hasn’t forgotten how being out on the field for that coin toss at Pitt made him feel.

“It’s something I never forgot,” he said, “and that fact that I’m going to be doing that again soon, being on the field in front of thousands of people, is kind of surreal.”

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