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Friday Mailbag: Could any 2023 prospects commit to Penn State this fall?

Penn State will welcome a handful of top prospects to Beaver Stadium Saturday for its home opener against Ball State tomorrow.

With next weekend's game against Auburn scheduled to be the White Out, many of the region's top overall prospects will make the trip to State College next Saturday, but there are still a few notable players attending tomorrow's game that the Nittany Lion fans need to keep an eye on.

In this week's mailbag, we discuss two notable players attending tomorrow's home opener, a 2023 prospect to keep an eye on for a commitment, as well as some of the top 2023 prospects planning to be at next weekend's game against Auburn.

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- Any big recruits coming up for the first game? @Houseman33

We won't see a loaded visitor list this weekend, which is to be expected with Auburn and the White Out on deck. As we see every year, that's going to be the game that brings in around 50+ scholarship prospects to Beaver Stadium.

The two most notable players to me this week are 2023 tight end Joey Schlaffer and 2024 athlete Quinton Martin. I wrote a story on Schlaffer earlier this week if you want to learn more about him, but one major thing fans need to know is that he's Michal Menet's half-brother. Obviously, those family ties make him someone to seriously watch if Penn State decides to offer, and I think the staff is strongly considering it. Penn State is actually planning to scout Schlaffer tonight, as Ty Howle will travel to Exeter Twp. for the game against Wilson.

As for Martin, he's already one of the best players in Pennsylvania and he's only a sophomore. Penn State, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia all offered after his freshman season and I expect that list to double in the months ahead. His sophomore film looks great so far. I think there's a very good chance he ends up being the top player in Pennsylvania for his class.

- Besides Tripp and Battle, are there any 2023’s that we should keep and eye on for a potential commitment during the season? @PSURecruitTalk

I get the impression that Penn State wants to see film from Antonio Tripp and Shawn Battle before they push hard for a commitment. Remember, Tripp didn't play at all last season. It's important to see how all of these guys have progressed before we get ahead of ourselves. I think the staff remains very interested in both, but they're also still gathering as much information as possible. Both players also seem content with seeing which other schools offer in the months ahead.

Right now, I would lean towards Lamont Payne being the player to watch for the Class of 2023. I've talked about Payne a lot in this mailbag and elsewhere over the past few months. I've felt as if he's leaning towards Penn State for awhile now, and I logged a FutureCast for him earlier this week. We know he's going to be back on campus next weekend for the White Out. Will he commit? That's tough to say, but he's definitely one of those players that I'll keep a close eye on every time he visits Penn State.

- Who are the big '23 names that are confirmed for the whiteout? @cmcg926

That list won't completely come together until next week, but I would expect at least 30 or so (maybe more) scholarship 2023 prospects to be in attendance.

I mentioned Payne above. He's one of Penn State's top cornerback prospects in this class and will be seeing his first game at Beaver Stadium next week. Both Battle and Tripp are also expected to be in attendance.

In addition to Tripp, we're expecting a few really good offensive line prospects to be in State College, including arguably the staff's top offensive tackle target in OL Luke Montgomery. This will be Luke's third trip to State College overall. He took one true visit back in July and also toured campus on his own last year during the dead period. This will be his first opportunity to check out the White Out.

Two other notables up front include Alabama native Koby Keenum and Evan Link from Washington, D.C.. Keenum came up to Penn State in June and raved about the visit. He also grew up an Auburn fan, so this should be a good opportunity for Penn State. Auburn hasn't offered yet, but they're monitoring him closely. Link took an unofficial visit to Penn State this summer.

Former Penn State commit Mathias Barnwell will also be back. The Virginia native attended the White Out in 2019 and has since taken three additional visits to Penn State, making this his fifth trip overall. At 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, I'll be curious to see how Penn State and other schools recruit him moving forward. We know they definitely want him, but will they recruit him as a tight end or offensive tackle moving forward? His athleticism at offensive tackle would make him a special prospect, although his heart seems set on tight end.

One other player that I expect is the top overall prospect in Pennsylvania, linebacker Ta'Mere Robinson. Robinson took two visits to Penn State this summer and sources felt good about where they stood following the Lasch Bash in July. He'll visit Ohio State this weekend for the Oregon game and told me this week that visits to Michigan and Clemson are in the works. He also attended Pitt's home opener last weekend.

- It has been said that because talent in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, New Jersey is historically low that PSU will have to go national for a lot of recruits. Do you have concerns that PSU can do this when they haven’t had to before and still come up with a top 10-15 class? @sgw107

Yeah, the region does appear to be down on top talent next year. Pennsylvania isn't too bad with eight four-star players (the state averages about nine) but Maryland is way down with just three four-star prospects currently. New Jersey and Virginia have just four each. For some perspective, Maryland has averaged about 10 Rivals250 prospects over the years, while Virginia has averaged 11 and New Jersey nine.

Those numbers are a bit concerning, but I will also note that Penn State is off to great starts with the vast majority of those Mid-Atlantic players who do rank highly. Realistically, there are at least 10 regional players among that Rivals250 that wouldn't surprise me if they end up here. When you add in those half-dozen or so three-star prospects that Penn State evaluates every year and feels great about, it's not like half of the 2023 class will have to come from down south or the midwest, wherever.

Also, I think they are having some pretty good success outside the region. No, they're not recruiting nationally like some of those elite schools at the very top, but the current class alone features prospects from Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Commitments from Louisiana aren't common, but the other two states have been pretty good to Penn State in recent years. If you can pull in three or four guys from those two states every year, that'll go a long way.

When it's all said and done, the makeup of next year's class will probably end up being something similar to what we saw this year and many classes before. If they can take the next step on the field this season, that'll only help. Winning sells more than anything else in recruiting, especially with players who aren't familiar with the university.

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