Alex Birchmeier: 'I wanted to do this now because I want to be a leader'
If all goes to plan in the Class of 2023, Alex Birchmeier will be one of multiple top 100 prospects who ultimately sign with the Nittany Lions.
On Thursday, the nation’s 61st-ranked prospect, who plays at Broad Run High School in Ashburn, Va., announced that he was ending his recruitment roughly 17 months before he can actually sign with James Franklin’s program.
His reasoning was simple: it’s time to get to work.
“I wanted to do this now because I want to be a leader in this class. That’s important to me,” Birchmeier said. “I want to take on that role and I think I can help make this class even better than their 2022 class now. But also, I’ve been recruited by them for awhile now. I’ve built great relationships with everyone up there, so I just felt like this was the time to make it happen.”
As is the case with all of Penn State’s top prospects, Franklin and his staff took a team approach with Birchmeier. Early on, Ty Howle had a big role in kickstarting the relationship, and as time went on, Ja’Juan Seider and Phil Trautwein took on a bigger role. Franklin was also heavily involved.
“Traut is just a great guy,” Birchmeier said, referring to his future offensive line coach. “He’s young, but he has a lot of experience. Between the NFL and his experience at Boston College, then Penn State last year, I can see how well he develops offensive linemen. He’s the kind of coach that gets guys to the next level, so that definitely piques my interest.
“But all of their coaches are amazing. Almost all of them helped recruit me at once. Between Seider, Franklin and Howle, they made me feel like Penn State was home right from the start. They felt like family as soon as they started talking to me.”
Back in Aug. 2020, Birchmeier and his family drove to State College on their own to take a self-guided tour of the campus during the NCAA’s dead period. That visit helped put the Nittany Lions in the driver’s seat moving forward, but it was his visit last month, which allowed him to truly see everything the football program has to offer, that allowed Birchmeier to comfortably decide this early.
“[The visit] was probably the main reason why I committed now,” he said. “I took visits to Notre Dame and [Virginia] Tech, too, but Penn State blew them out of the water. From the facilities to how I was treated there, and then the campus, it was all just amazing. That was a big part of all this.”
Throughout his recruitment, Birchmeier earned 30 verbal scholarship offers. Schools like Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon all made an attempt to get him on campus, but in the end, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Virginia Tech were the three schools that gave him something to seriously think about.
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech both hosted him for a visit in June, with the Fighting Irish being the program he considered the most. However, throughout all of that, the Nittany Lions were the team to beat.
Now, with his commitment firm, Birchmeier wants to help the coaches put together the best group of players possible. His plan is to start with a few friends who also play up front.
“I’m trying to get Antonio Tripp, Luke Montgomery, Koby Keenum and Chase Bisontis to all come with me,” Birchmeier said. “I’ve been staying in touch with all of those guys. They’re all cool guys. We stay in contact.”
At 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, Birchmeier is versatile enough to play all five positions once he gets to the next level, although he feels his potential is best as an interior player.
“I feel like my length is best for guard, or really any of the interior spots," he said. "I feel like I’m just built better for that compared to tackle, but if they need me to play tackle, I’m open to doing that role. I just want to play wherever the coaches need me and wherever gets me on the field first. Whatever is best for the team.”
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