Penn State football’s had great success with receivers in the James Franklin era.
But recently, the school hasn’t exactly landed a haul of WR recruits.
Coming into late June, Penn State had 48 players committed (at one point) or signed between its 2023 and ’24 classes. Of those 40, only one– ’23 four-star Carmelo Taylor– was a receiver. For a while, it looked like in-state WR Tyseer Denmark would be another player Penn State missed out on.
Denmark, a four-star from Philadelphia’s Roman Catholic, had Penn State in his top three, along with Ohio State and Oregon. He ended up committing to Oregon Thanksgiving Day and stayed committed for nearly seven months.
Then, things changed.
In a move that surprised Penn State fans, Denmark officially visited Happy Valley the weekend of June 16-18.
That Sunday, he de-committed from Oregon, and those who follow recruiting had a good idea of what was coming next.
The inevitable became reality Tuesday when Denmark announced his commitment to Penn State, becoming the first receiver to commit to Penn State’s ’24 Class.
Denmark’s head coach at Roman Catholic, Rick Prete, made his thoughts on Denmark’s ability clear to Nittany Sports Now.
“I think they just got themselves, in my opinion, the best receiver in the country,” Prete told NSN.
Prete said he feels Denmark is “the most complete receiver I’ve ever been around at the high school level.”
So what makes him say this?
“You’re talking about a guy who has an advanced understanding of route running,” Prete said. “You’re talking about somebody who has elite change of direction ability, elite ball skills, so I think with the ball skills, the route running and then what he can do once the football’s in his hands is second to none.”
Every athlete’s pace is different.
Some are prodigies. Some are late bloomers.
For Prete, Denmark is closer to the former. He said that he saw Denmark as a Power Five talent as early as when he was in the seventh grade.
“He could run the entire route tree,” Prete said, “and knew what it was and could talk his way through it and explain what he was doing to anybody who was there watching or to younger kids that were working out with him or to guys his age or even a year older.”
A prerequisite for being good at something is to love it, and that isn’t a problem for Denmark. But Denmark doesn’t just love playing football on Friday nights and the practices leading up to it; Prete says he loves the behind-the-scenes aspect.
“I think what I learned about him over the years was he’s a tremendous student of the game, so he really dives into, you know, obviously, the entire game of football, but specifically the position that he plays. If you ask him who his favorite receiver is and why, he’ll be able to tell you what they do, the part of their game (he admires) and everything like that. So I think him being a student of the game and then him having a drive to want to get better is just a great match, and I think that’s what has him at this point.”
Physicality. Penn State’s weight training.
Although Denmark was committed to Oregon for more than half a year, Prete says Penn State was always on his mind.
“I would say they were never out of the mix,” he said. “I think in today’s world, if a kid commits somewhere, that’s the start of the process. But I would say Penn State did a tremendous job of being active and just maintaining that interest and building that relationship with him throughout his entire high school career. They were always amongst his top two, top three, so these were conversations that we had over the years where we kind of knew that Penn State was home. If you look back, he’s been there multiple times. So this is really no surprise.”
Less than two months after Denmark committed to Oregon, Penn State hired Marques Hagans as receivers coach. This was a factor as well.
When Hagans was the WR coach at Virginia, he offered Denmark, and continued to recruit him at his new job.
“I just believe that he’s one of the best in the business,” Prete said, “and I think that, as soon as he got to Penn State, they kind of hit the ground running.”
“(Denmark) knew (Hagans) was strong, that he was going to be in good hands in his wide receivers room.”
Other coaches, such associate head coach Terry Smith, defensive line coach Deion Barnes and, of course, head coach James Franklin, played roles in Denmark’s recruitment, Prete said, as did Penn State Class of 2023 signee Jameial Lyons, who played with Denmark at Roman Catholic.
All four of those guys are from Pennsylvania, and are six of Penn State’s ‘24 commits.
For Prete, the latest commit will be a star in Happy Valley.
“I think he’s going to be a huge shot in the arm for that receivers’ room, and I think he’s going to help them open up the offense even more with what they do in the running game and the quarterback that they have,” Prete said. “I think that they have a bonafide weapon. Not that they didn’t before, but this is a high-caliber football player.