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Penn State Football Recruiting

Priority DB Recruit Joshua Johnson Talks Penn State Football Official Visit, Impact of Terry Smith

We’re getting into the heavy part of the football recruiting season as official visits will start at the end of May and run through the month of June.

As a lead-up to the all-important official visits, Penn State hosted between 30 and 4o high school recruits, from various classes, on unofficial visits. The group of players from this weekend included freshman, sophomores and juniors.

One of the players that made the trip to State College was 2025 3-star defensive back Joshua Johnson from Ironton, Ohio. Right now, Johnson holds Power Four offers from Penn State, Arkansas, Boston College, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Johnson’s visit is interesting because he will be back at Penn State from June 7-9th for his official visit. The talented defensive back’s first visit to State College occurred last season back in November, so he’s becoming quite familiar with Penn State.

“The reason I wanted to get up there again and before my official visit was that I just really love Penn State,” Johnson tells Nittany Sports Now. “I love the people up there, the coaches, everything about it. I love being around the coaches, the staff, seeing their facilities. Penn State is just a great place in general.”

“When I first got there, I had a meeting with my lead recruiter (Alan Zemaitis), the defensive backs coach (Terry Smith) and of course, Coach Franklin. We all sat down and talked football, my recruiting process, my rankings and why Penn State was high on my list.”

During these conversations, when they turned to football, Franklin and company let Johnson why he’s such a priority for them on the recruiting trail.

“They talked to me about my size and how long I am,” said Johnson. “Most of their defensive backs right now are on the shorter side, six football under. With me being longer, they feel like I could fit in really well, especially in their cover two and the zone categories along with in man with my long arms and being able to get press coverage.”

The attraction of attending Penn State for a prospective recruit are plentiful such as their winning tradition, they compete for championships, playing in the Big 10 and the gameday atmosphere at Beaver Stadium. However, Johnson named something else that was his main attraction to the Nittany Lions program.

“Their numbers. If you look every year, Coach Terry sends a cornerback to the draft every year. That’s incredible. Plus, the environment at Penn State. Everyone is one the same page and it’s a true brotherhood. If I were to decide to go there, I feel like it would be great.”

Penn State Defensive Backs Drafted in NFL Since 2018

2024- Daequan Hardy / 6th Round / Buffalo Bills
Kalen King / 7th Round / Green Bay Packers

2023- Joey Porter Jr. / 1st Round / Pittsburgh Steelers
Ji’Ayir Brown / 3rd Round / San Francisco 49ers

2022- Jaquan Brisker / 2nd Round / Chicago Bears
Tariq Castro-Fields / 6th Round / San Francisco 49ers

2020- John Reid / 4th Round / Houston Texans

2019- Amani Oruwariye / 5th round / Detroit Lions
Nick Scott / 7th round / LA Rams

2018- Troy Apke / 4th round / Washington Commanders
Marcus Allen / 5th round / Pittsburgh Steelers
Christian Campbell / 6th round / Arizona Cardinals

While Penn State appears to be in a pretty solid position to land this talented defensive back, Johnson plans on taking four official visits during the month of June. This is the biggest decision of his life, and he plans on doing proper research before making one.

“This summer, I have my officials set up,” said Johnson. “I got Louisville first, then I got Penn State, then Arkansas and then Iowa. So, I plan on just being patient, go on all of my official visits, see what every place is like, get a real feel for every program and then after that, I’ll make my final decision.”

Penn State’s Class of 2025, which currently holds 13 commitments, has one defensive back: cornerback Xxavier Thomas from Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School.

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