Penn State football’s newest commit is relieved.
Bekkem Kritza got his first offer before his freshman year of high school.
Since then, he’s changed high schools three times in four seasons.
He started his career at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado, in 2022, then played his sophomore season at California’s Santa Margarita Catholic. Kritza started his junior season at Florida’s Miami Central High School, but due to a family situation, moved back to Boulder and returned to Fairview. Through it all, Kritza has become a four-star QB with the option to play at many prominent Division I schools. His final five were Colorado, Miami, Texas A&M, Penn State and Washington.
Now, the recruiting process is over, and Kritza has picked Penn State.
Although he told the world of his decision Tuesday night, he told Penn State coach James Franklin hours before Saturday’s game against Michigan, which Kritza attended in person.
“I was literally in the room right next to the locker room,” Kritza told Nittany Sports Now. “He pulled me in real quick. I told him I had to tell him something.”
How did Franklin react to the news?
“When I told him I was committed, I mean, he jumped up. He said a few words that I can’t repeat,” Kritza said, laughing. said laughing. He was very excited, and he was very happy and very ecstatic for me and my future. This is why I love Coach Franklin because he wanted to make sure that I’m 100 percent with it and I’m making this decision myself, not for anybody else. Just having that, man, it’s really just great, man. When I did commit, I told him, I said ‘yes, sir. This is my decision. This is what I want to do.'”
So what made Kritza choose Penn State?
For Kritza, there were two particularly big factors that played into it.
“The two things it came down to were just the honesty and just, you know, how professional they are with everything. I mean, from Coach Franklin all the way down to the bottom of the staff. Everybody’s just going to tell you the truth, 100%, all the time, that’s all I want. I don’t want to hear all the good stuff I’m doing all the time. I want to hear the bad stuff and what I need to work on. Them just being 100% real with me kind of set them apart from everybody else.”
So what does Franklin think about Kritza’s game?
“He thinks I have the best arm in the entire country,” he said. “He thinks I’m very athletic, and then, just some things I could work on, he thinks I can use my athleticism more. He thinks I rely on my arm too much, so just things like that, him being honest and just telling me what I need to work on and what I need to do to get ready by the time I get up there, I mean, it goes a long way.”
Of course, the chance to play in front of 107,000+ seven times a year was appealing to Kritza as well.
“I think it’s the best atmosphere in the country,” he said. “When you go play in Beaver Stadium, I don’t think there’s anything else like it. I see myself on that field and playing in front of those fans, putting on a show for them.”
The day after Kritza told Franklin of his commitment, Penn State fired its quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich.
Kritza was a big fan of Yurcich’s but is confident Penn State will find a quality replacement by the time he arrives on campus.
“I love coach Yurcich,” Kritza said. “That was my guy, man. But like I told Coach Franklin, I committed to Coach Franklin and his program. I didn’t commit to any coach but him. I didn’t commit to a skill coach or anything like that. I love everything Coach Yurcich gave for me, and I’ll always be grateful for him. That’s one of my favorite coaches, but, I mean, I get it. The college football world is a business, and you have to do what you have to do at the end of the day. So, I mean, I have no doubts with coach Franklin that he’ll bring in someone as good, if not even better.”
Kritza’s happy that assistant QB coach and graduate assistant, Danny O’Brien, is still with the program.
As for his high school season, Kritza’s pleased with how it went.
He completed more than 65% of his passes for 1,747 yards, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.
“I feel like I did my job and I feel like I did what I needed to do to show everybody that I’m one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” he said. “Just having a season like I did, I feel great about it, and I can’t wait to have an even better season my senior year and go for some records.”
Colorado was a tempting option for Krtiza, what with him living in Boulder and the persuasiveness of coach Deion Sanders.
Was it hard for Kritza to turn down Colorado?
“I wouldn’t say hard,” he said, “because I know what I have and Penn State, and I know that’s the school and I need to go to and that I need to be at. So, I mean, it wasn’t really hard, but obviously pushing away ‘Prime Time,’ that’s obviously going to do something to you. But at the same time, I have no regrets. I have no regrets at all.”
Overall, Kritza feels James Franklin is “the best football coach in America.”
“I don’t care what anybody says about anything,” Kritza said. “I think he’s the best football coach, so I’m going to ride with him, I’m going to live and die with that.”