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Penn State Football Recruiting

4-Star 2025 LB Dayshaun Burnett Discusses Commitment to Penn State

Photo by Dom Campbell, Nittany Sports Now

PITTSBURGH— Penn State landed another top recruit this week. Four-star linebacker Dayshaun Burnett announced his commitment to the program Wednesday at his high school.

Burnett plays for Imani Christian Academy, located in the East Hills neighborhood in Pittsburgh. He chose Penn State over Pitt and Rutgers, the other two programs he named in his top three schools Tuesday. He also had a top five list that included West Virginia and Kentucky.

Despite announcing Wednesday, Burnett told Penn State’s coaching staff a week prior that he planned to commit to their program, making this decision unsurprising to coach James Franklin and company.

“So I told them the last time they were here, [the previous Thursday]” Burnett said. “I gave them a dramatic pause a little bit, cause James Franklin, his eyes lit up a little bit.”

Burnett spoke on certain things that Penn State had to offer him that other schools didn’t. Particularly, assistant coach Terry Smith, who he has known since a young age, when they both lived near each other in the Pittsburgh suburb of Churchill.

Burnett now lives in Apollo in nearby Armstrong County, but the bond between the two made a big difference in the recruiting process

“Well, obviously Big Ten football is a different kind of football, you know, and the relationships I have with the coaching staff,” Burnett said. “Coach Terry Smith, even before Penn State, he was a big part of my life. He lived down the street from me as a young kid. He’s been pouring into me all my life. I know if I go out there, I’m going to be covered.”

Penn State now has five commitments from the WPIAL, also known as District 7, which comprises schools in Allegheny (excluding Pittsburgh Public Schools), Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

This includes four-stars in North Catholic tight end/athlete Brady O’Hara, Aliquippa running back Tiqwai Hayes and Latrobe linebacker Alex Tatsch, who committed on Sunday. Pittsburgh Central Catholic three-star cornerback XXavier Thomas also committed to PSU back in December.

Burnett doesn’t necessarily agree that Penn State has an edge in the area for recruiting, despite Pitt not having any WPIAL recruits in its ‘25 class. He committed more so for the chance to play in the Big Ten and connections with the coaching stuff.

Burnett likes the fact that he’ll join many players he’s known growing up and will know some familiar faces. This includes redshirt freshmen in linebacker Ta’Mere Robinson of Brashear, a Pittsburgh public school that plays in the City League, and cornerback Lamont Payne Jr. from Chartiers Valley., who he played with on Evolve 7-on-7 growing up.

“Of course, of course,” Burnett said. “I feel like, a lot of guys being from the WPIAL, our chemistry’s going to be unmatched. But yeah, I feel good about it.”

When he goes to State College, Burnett said that the coaches intend to have him play at both inside and outside linebacker. They even gave him a comparison to Micah Parsons, a consensus All-American for the Penn State in 2019 and now one of the best linebackers in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys.

Imani Christian head coach LaRoi Johnson spoke glowingly on Burnett and how he’s helped change the program from one that rarely won prior to his arrival, to a team that is back to making the playoffs.

“There’s not much he can’t do,” Johnson said. “He’s coachable, he’s one of the better athletes I’ve coached in my years. He’s dynamic off the edge, he can rush, he’s outstanding, he’s a third down weapon. Anytime around that block, you don’t know if he’s going to blitz, you don’t know if he’s going to drop, you don’t know what he’s going to do because he can do multiple different things and when I see the transition in the game (of football), that’s kind of what the game’s becoming is guys who can do a lot of different things and I’ve seen him grow into that. He’s got to put the work in, do the work first and cut it up there, but once he gets it, sky’s the limit and he’s going to go far.”

Burnett is just the second player from Imani to play for a Power Four school, with former West Virginia safety Kenny Robinson graduating from there in 2017, the last time Imani was a successful program before Burnett came, making it to the 2016 WPIAL Class A title game.

Penn State has also offered a number of Imani players younger than Burnett in Class of 2026 defensive back/running back David Davis, and Class of 2027 athletes in Carter Bonner and Gabriel Jenkins.

Seeing the program grow in just a short amount of time is something that Burnett takes pride in, knowing that his teammates have the option to join him not just at the Division I level, but Penn State as well.

“I feel good about it,” Burnett said. “I love seeing my brothers win and it excites me because I paved the way. So just building that foundation that we’re trying to build here, it’s a great feeling.”

Committing in February is a benefit for Burnett. He knows where he’ll attend college and won’t have to worry abut making a decision throughout the summer, fall or even the winter. Instead, he’ll focus on improving every facet of his game and work to lead Imani to a WPIAL title.

“I’m really excited for my senior year,” Burnett said. “I know I’m going to have a big senior year. I feel like it was good for me to get it out of the way, get it all over with, so now I don’t have to deal with the kind of pressure of committing during my senior year. Glad to just get it out of the way now.”

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