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Penn State Football Recruiting

Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Class of 2025 so Far

Penn State head Coach James Franklin
Photo by Jordan Leneberg, Nittany Sports Now: James Franklin

Here’s a breakdown of Penn State football’s 2025 recruiting class.

DARYUS DIXSON

Stars: 4

High School: Mater Dei (Santa Ana, California)

Committed: 6-10-24

 

Over the past several years, cornerback coach Terry Smith has developed a reputation for recruiting and developing players in that position. 

Daryus Dixson is looking to be next in line.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound corner from California’sfamous Mater Dei High School announced via X (formerly Twitter) right around noon Eastern timeMonday that he had committed to Penn State.

Dixson is a four-star recruit who is the 90th-ranked player nationally and 10th-ranked CB from his class per 247Sports’composite ratings. Dixson’scommitment comes on the heels ofhis official visit to Penn State, which he took from June 7-9. Penn State offered Dixson in June 2023, a little more than a year before his commitment. He also had offers from schools such as Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Boston College, Cal, Colorado, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington.

 

I’dsay this decision came down to the relationship that Ideveloped with the coaches,Dixson told NSN.Just reuniting with Coach Smith and me having the opportunity to reallyget a feel for the wholePenn State coaching staff was important.Just the way they were interactingwith me the entire weekend and how theymade me,and my family feel like we were right at home.It was just an amazing weekend.”

JAHMIR JOSEPH

 

High School: St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, New Jersey)

 

Stars: 4

 

Committed: 6-17-24

 

Seven days after Dixson announced his commitment, another blue-chip CB from much closer to Happy Valley committed coming off his official visit weekend.

It was Jahmir Joseph, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound CB from St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey.

At the time ofhis commitment, per 247Sports’composite rankings, Joseph is the No. 5 overall player in New Jersey, the No. 23 overall corner in the country and the 209th overall player in his class.

Penn State was in Joseph’stop five alongwith Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Stanford.

 

DJ MCCLARY

 

High School: Henry Snyder (Jersey City)

 

Stars: 4

 

Committed: 9-24-23

 

Penn State’s31-0 White Out demolition of Iowain September 2023, the team got a commitment from four-star linebacker DJ McClary.

 

At the time ofhis commitment, McClary was a top 100 player in this year’srecruiting class. He’sranked No. 100 on the dot in 247Sports composite ratings, which also have him as the No. eplayer in New Jersey and the No. 12 linebacker in the country. If McClary signs, he’llbe joiningtheLinebacker Ulineage.

 

ALVIN HENDERSON

High School: Elba (Alabama)

Stars: 4

Committed: 4-11-2024

Henderson picked Penn State over Auburn, Florida State, Miami and Oregon, among others.

The expectation was that Henderson would pick either Auburn, which isroughly two hours away from Elba, or Penn State, which has developed a reputation for churning out NFL-quality running backs. Henderson announced early Thursday afternoon that he picked the latter.

So whatwould Penn State be getting in Henderson?

In a scouting report published to 247Sports Wednesday, April 10, national recruiting analyst Cooper Petanga described Henderson asa sudden runner that demonstrates the ability to play in both a power or zone scheme.”

“The Alabama native exhibits excellent short area burst and separation quickness at the second level to create space between defenders,Petagna wrote.Plays with good play strength and physicality, plus shows the ability to consistently play through contact. Hasa knack for finding hidden yardage between the tackles, utilizing patience and contact balance butalsopossesses the elusiveness and long speed to create explosive plays in the open field. An extremely productive rusher with an uncanny combination of vision, short area quickness, and burst between the tackles, Henderson projects as a high-level multi-year starter at a Power Four program with the ability to contribute sooner rather than later in an early down role.”

DAYSHAUN BURNETT

High School: Imani Christian (Pittsburgh)

Stars: 4

Committed: 2-7-2024

 

Burnett 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.

He stands at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds and is a force that offenses have toreckon with. Burnett has greatspeed and agility, along with the strength to not onlymake any tackle needed but with relative ease.He does well in coverage but is best tracking down the quarterback on a blitz and getting into the backfield.

At the time of his commitment, 247Sports ranked him as the No. 39 linebacker in the country and the No. 13 recruit in Pennsylvania in his class. Rivals ranks him No. 246 in the country, No. 20 at linebacker and No. 7 in the state in his class.

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

There’snot much he can’tdo,Johnson said.He’scoachable, he’sone of the better athletes I’vecoached in my years. He’sdynamic off the edge, he can rush, he’soutstanding, he’sa third-down weapon. Anytime around that block, you don’tknow if he’sgoing 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 andwhen I see the transition in the game (of football), that’s kind of what the game’sbecoming is guys who can do a lot of different things and I’ve seen him grow into that. He’sgotto put the work in, do the work first and cut it up there, but once he gets it, sky’sthe limit andhe’sgoing to go far.”

BRADY O’HARA

High School: North Catholic (Pittsburgh)

Stars: 3

Committed: 9-26-2023

O’Hara’sa four-star recruit from North Catholic.He’scapable of playing defensive end and tight end, but the plan is for the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder to play left tackle in college.

O’Harahasn’tplayed left tackle yet, but he told Pittsburgh Sports Now’sLogan Carney last fall that this is where PSU wants him to play.

“At first, I didn’twant to do it,said O’Hara.But when looking at things in a long-distance sense, if they make me a beastthen I’llplay left tackle.”

MATT HENDERSON

High School: Powhatan (Virginia)

Stars: 3

Committed: 5-8-2024

Penn State offered Henderson roughly two weeks before the announcement.

He also had offers from schools such as Michigan State, Maryland, Pitt, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. Henderson started picking up Power Five offers last month following a big junior season.

He ended 2023 with 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns on 74 catches per MaxPreps.

In the middle of that season, Henderson visited Happy Valley for Penn State’sgame against Indiana on Halloween Saturday.

In Henderson’sannouncement posted to social media, he wrote that he wanted to givemy sincere appreciation to all the amazing people who have made me into the person and player I am today.”

“Including my parents, family, friends and coaches, along with a great community behind me,he wrote.Without their guidance and efforts, I wouldn’tbe able toachieve my dreams doing what I love.

“I am extremely excited to announce my commitment to ….Penn State University.”

ALEX TATSCH

High School: Greater Latrobe (Pennsylvania)

Stars: 3

Committed: 2-4-2024

Tatsch is a four-star, 6-foot-3, 211-pound linebacker from the Class of 2025.

He had visited Penn State twice over the past few weeks, going there for Penn State’sfirst Junior Day of 2024Jan. 20, and then coming backfor Junior Day III this past Saturday. PSU offered him in late October. Tatsch also had offers from schools such as  Maryland, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pitt, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

According to 247Sports, Tatsch ended 2023 with 85 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, four sacks and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.

Late in the week before Tatsch announced his commitment, 247Sports’Hudson Standish wrote an evaluation of Tatsch, describing him as someone whopossesses an encouraging build with growth potential to add considerable weight at the next level.”

“Even though there are limited verified athletic markers at this stage of the evaluation process,Standish wrote,Tatsch flashes plenty of athleticism at running back, wildcat quarterback, and linebacker for Greater Latrobe High School locatedoutside of Pittsburgh. Madea considerable jump in turnover production as a junior, picking off four passes and forcing three fumbles in twelve games.

Standish also wrote that Tatschuses hands well to stay clean in pursuit ofthe football. Should be viewed as a potential starter at the second level for a Power Five program with intriguing long-term upside.”

 

OWEN ALICIENE

High School: Avon Old Farms (Connecticut)

Stars: 3

Committed: 1-21-2024

Aliciene is a three-star 6-foot-7, 280-pound offensive tackle from Avon Old Farms High School in Connecticut.

Penn State offered him this past May. He also had offers from schools such asBoston College, Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Pitt, Rutgers, SMU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wake Forest. Aliciene is the first lineman on either side of the ball to commit to Penn State’s‘25class.

Aliciene spoke glowingly of Penn State offensive line coach Phil Trautwein in an interview with Blue-White Illustrated.

“Ilike the factthat he is a coach who knows how to connect with players in not only football but also life,Aliciene said.His reputation from others is very high, which makes it easy to trust what he says. He also is very encouraging and a great guy to talk to.”

Aliciene visited Penn State over the summer and spoke highly of that experience with BWI over the summer.

“There were a lot of great players out there who were all working hard,he said.My second highlight would probably be how they made it fun for everyone, including families, with the yard games and the great food they served us. The third would be meeting with O-line staff. It’salways great to connect with them and see what they have tosay about my development.”

TIQWAI HAYES

 

High School: Aliquippa (Pennsylvania)

Stars: 3

Committed: 9-25-2023

Hayes was the second WPIAL running back to commit to Penn State out ofthe two upcoming recruiting classes. The first was Penn State’shighest-rated commit of the ‘24Class: Belle Vernon’sQuinton Martin. Both Martin and Hayes are listed as running backs but are capable of playing other positions as well. Hayes had three interceptions for Aliquippa last season.

But make no mistake; he’smade his biggestimpact in the run game. Last year, Hayes gained 2,011 yards rushing and scored 33 touchdowns. As a freshman, he gained 1,720 yards and scored 23 touchdowns.

XXAVIER THOMAS

High School: Pittsburgh Central Catholic

Stars: 3

Committed: 12/21/2023

PCC is one of the state’spremier football schools.

In the past, it’schurned out NFL players such as Marc Bulger, Damar Hamlin and some guy named Dan Marino.

Recent years have been no exception. Two of Penn State’sClass of 2024 signees played at Central. Anthony Speca, a four-star linebacker, committed in April, and three-star receiver Peter Gonzalez followed two months later. Thomas is also joining what’sbecoming an impressive list of ‘25WPIAL commits for Penn State.

Penn State got its first two WPIAL ‘25commits within 24 hours. Four-star RB Tiqwai Hayes (Aliquippa) announced his commitment Sept. 25, and fellow four-star Brady O’Hara, a tight end from North Catholic, committed the next morning. With almost a year until the next Signing Day, Penn State’salready matched its output of WPIAL commits from last season with three. It ended the 2022 cycle with two. The top-rated ‘24signee from Pennsylvania, Quinton Martin, starred at Belle Vernon High School in the Pittsburgh Area. He signed with Penn State yesterday.

Thomas visited Penn State for three of the team’sseven home games this season. He was there Sept. 2, when the team beat West Virginia under the Beaver Stadium lights to open the season. Hereturned for another night game: the Sept. 23white outdomination of Iowa. He was also there for Penn State’sonly home loss, which took place against Michigan Nov. 11.

MICHAEL TROUTMAN

High School: DePaul Catholic (Wayne, New Jersey)

Stars: 3

Committed: 2-11-2024

The standout from DePaul Catholic in Wayne, New Jersey, was offered by Penn State last May and also had offers from Boston College, Duke, Rutgers, Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse and Texas A&M. Troutman most recently visited Penn State last weekend for one of the school’sJunior Day events. 247Sports’Brian Dohn placed acrystal ballprojection for Troutman to commit to PSU Feb. 8.

A big key in Troutman’scommitment is a man whose last name makes a similar sound: Penn State OL coach Phil Trautwein. 

In an interview with On3Sports,Troutman said he appreciatedhow realisticTrautwein is.  

“He doesn’tsugarcoat anything and tells you things how they are,Troutman said.Something unique about him and what makes him such a great coach is that he not only teaches you about the game of football but also different things about life as well. It’sbeen a great experience building a relationship with him.”

Per On3, Troutman had visited PSU four times since last July

“Ireally liked how interactive the coaching staff was with everyone,Troutman told On3.I also liked how the staff treated each player and parent equally with the same level of respect. As far as highlights of the day go, I loved the intensity and competition levels during the 1-on-1 periods [at camp].”

LYRICK SAMUEL

High School: Erasmus Hall (Brooklyn)

Stars: 3

Committed: 2/19/2024

Per 247Sports, Samuel had 693 yards and 11 touchdowns on 27 receptions last season.

Penn State offered him in May. He also has offers from Michigan State, Rutgers and Syracuse. Samuel visited Penn State multiple times after being offered, including for the team’sopener against West Virginia Sept. 2. Samuel’smost recent visit was the weekend of Jan. 20 for one of the school’sJunior Day events.

Samuel is the first receiver to commit to Penn State’s2025 Class. The program has three stars JosiahBrownPeter Gonzalezand Tyseer Denmarksigned to the ‘24Class.

Samuel took his official visit toPenn State in June and told NSN he felt a responsibility to help PSU get more recruits.

“Being already committed, it is a part of my job to complete the class of WeAre25,said Samuel.Having an impact on what Penn State Football will look like for the next few years lets me know that my opinion matters. I was once toldby Mr. Chris LeGree thedad of my high school offensive coordinator Devante Wheeler togo where they love you and not where they like you.”

BEKKEM KRITZA

High School: Miami Central

Stars: 3

Committed: 11-14-2023

For Kritza, two particularly bigfactors played into his commitment to Penn State. 

“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’sjust going totell you the truth, 100%, all the time, that’sall I want. I don’twant to hear all the good stuff I’mdoing all the time. I want to hear the bad stuff and what I need to work on. Them justbeing 100% real with me kind ofset them apart from everybody else.”

So whatdoes Franklin think about Kritza’sgame?

“He thinks I have the best arm in the entire country,he said.He thinks I’mvery 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.”

KIANDREA BARKER

High School: Miami Central

Stars: 3

Committed: 4-16-2023

Penn State football’slongest-reigning Class of 2025 commit has shut down his recruitment.

KiAndrea Barker, a four-star, 6-foot, 190-pound RB from Florida’sMiami Central High School, has received multiple offers since committing to Penn State in April 2023.

Arkansas, Colorado, Duke and USC were among the schools after him since Barker made his commitment. He’salso received offers from schools such as Auburn, Houston, Oregon, TCU, UCF and Wisconsin. In the meantime, he’sseen players such as blue-chip OT Jaelyne Matthews de-commit, thus reopening their recruitment.

But Barker took to X (formerly Twitter) Thursday afternoon to affirm his commitment to Penn State.

“Iwant to thank all the coaches who have recruited me along this process,Barker wrote,and all the Penn State coaches/ staff that’s been showing love since day withthat being saidI want to officially announce that all recruitment is shut downfor meand I’mall in 110% #weare🦁.”

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