football Edit

Friday Mailbag: Penn State's top 2024 prospects, DJ Wesolak, more

We're approaching the middle of August, which means recruiting has slowed quite a bit compared to earlier this summer.

With Penn State's Class of 2022 all but finished, focus has clearly shifted to preseason practice, not just for the Nittany Lions, but also the recruits themselves. With a dead period in play until September, we won't see recruits back on campus until the home opener against Ball State on Sept. 11.

However, there's always something to discuss, especially when it comes to the 2023 class and beyond. That's where we'll start this week, beginning with some young up-and-coming players in Pennsylvania that fans should go watch this fall.

Philadelphia native Tyseer Denmark is one of Penn State's top prospects in the Class of 2024.
Philadelphia native Tyseer Denmark is one of Penn State's top prospects in the Class of 2024. (

- Who are some sophomore PA recruits you are hearing buzz on? @sirbri32

So far, Penn State has extended seven scholarship offers in Pennsylvania for the Class of 2024, and all seven should be highly sought-after by not just regional schools, but nationally.

Philadelphia prospects Tyseer Denmark (wide receiver, Roman Catholic) and Omillio Agard (cornerback, St. Joseph's Prep) already hold double-digit offers and are on pace to be four-star players. I watched both players this spring or summer. Agard was excellent on the camp circuit, while Denmark was easily one of the top five or so players, regardless of class, at Penn State's 7-on-7 tournament in June.

Philadelphia is also home to three other really good players in wide receiver David Washington Jr. and defensive tackle Richard James Jr., both from St. Joseph's Prep, as well as cornerback Kenneth Woseley from Imhotep Charter. Their upcoming seasons will show us a lot, but I could see all five of those guys being four-star players at some point.

On the other side of the state, Quinton Martin from Belle Vernon looks like a very special player. I see a Rivals100 player, personally, but this season will help paint that picture more. He's currently listed around 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, which is why he's listed as an athlete, but he plays running back and is damn good at it. That's where I expect Penn State to recruit him at. Also, Pittsburgh Central Catholic linebacker Anthony Speca is another player I'm excited to see this fall. He came up to Penn State for the Lasch Bash and spoke highly of the visit, so the staff is off to a strong start there.

One other player who doesn't hold an offer yet that I like is Malvern Prep offensive lineman Peter Jones. He attended the Whiteout Camp and tested well. I get the impression that the staff wants to see a few games this season, and as long as he continues to impress, an offer should come.

- Is Wesolak a real possibility? @psubuzzy

DJ Wesolak committing to Penn State wouldn't surprise me at all, but I'm not ready to put in any FutureCasts or anything like that. James Franklin and his staff would definitely like to add him. I'm confident in saying that, but a big part of this equation is when exactly the player plans to decide.

When I interviewed Wesolak last week, he told me that he's considering his birthday on Sept. 14, but that would be a few days before he's scheduled to visit Penn State for the game against Auburn, so that feels unlikely to me. Here's the full quote.

"At the end of the day, I just want to be comfortable," he said. "I want to take all my officials before I decide. I don't want to end up missing out on something that could've had. Also, I want to see where teams are in the season, at least the first month or so.

"Some coaches are on the hot seat right now and I don't want to be a part of a program that's gonna have a new staff. September 14 is my birthday, so I've considered that, but I'll go to National Signing Day if I have to. Really, anytime between those two dates could be when I decide. I just want to figure out what's best for me."

Wesolak has three official visits left after using two to see Florida and USC this summer. Penn State is on course to get one of those, but if he ends up taking one official visit in October, then another in November, and then decides to drag this out to the December signing period, it's hard for me to envision Penn State still having space.

So, yes, I can definitely see a world where Wesolak signs with the Nittany Lions, but as of today, I don't get the impression that he can see all of his top schools and wait until December to decide. If Penn State has a few decommitments, that changes things, but as presently constructed, just one or two commitments at another position would tie the staff's hands.

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- Where is PSU at with Mega Barnwell in convincing him to re-commit? @khaosncage

Penn State sources gave me the impression that they thought his most recent visit, which took place July 27, went really well. That's the good news. The bad news is that Barnwell also hinted to our colleagues in Columbus earlier this summer that Ohio State may be the favorite nowadays.

After committing so early, I don't expect Barnwell to rush it again. He's a smart kid and has a good family around him. They know this is an important decision, and his offer list is now substantially bigger than before. Personally, I'd be surprised if he doesn't use his official visits next spring and into June. He has a lot of good options and enjoys taking visits.

About a month ago, Barnwell posted a top seven that included Penn State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. I think the Lions should be among his top three in that group, but I need to see more before I start making any predictions in regards to where he'll end up.

Visits this season should help paint that picture.

- Which Penn State recruit are you most excited to see this fall? @Rivals_Singer

It's impossible to pick just one here. The easy answer is Drew Allar because he's a quarterback who really wasn't on the radar last season. It wasn't until Mike Yurcich joined the staff in January that he became a serious target. Quarterbacks always get fans excited, and they're the most fun to scout because they impact every play. So, that's the easy answer.

With that said, travel was limited last year, so there are a ton of players that I want to get an up close look at. I watched wide receiver Kaden Saunders kill it at the Five-Star Challenge in June. I would love to see him play deep into the Ohio state playoffs. Penn State thinks they found a real gem in another wide receiver, Virginia native Tyler Johnson. He tested really well at Penn State this summer.

There are also two junior college players at Lackawanna, safety Tyrece Mills and offensive lineman JB Nelson, who played just two games last year. CB Cam Miller doesn't open up much to the media, so I'd love to go down to Jacksonville to get to know him better.

And shoot, that doesn't include any of the top up-and-coming talent in Pennsylvania in the 2023 and 2024 class. After such a weird year, there are so many options this year. I've already struggled trying to put together a schedule for September with so many good games in Maryland in Pennsylvania.

- When will the 23 guys start falling? @Rickymartello04

Well, there will be one commitment this weekend in safety Adon Shuler.

A Rivals250 prospect from New Jersey, Shuler visited Penn State twice this summer, but he also went to Notre Dame and the Irish are considered a heavy favorite at the moment, so Penn State will probably have to wait a bit longer to pick up commitment No. 2 for the Class of 2023.

To be honest, I have no idea when those dominos will start falling because no one is really hinting at it. We know offensive lineman Antonio Tripp is high on Penn State, but he's not going to rush it, and that's the case for so many of these players.

One thing that's important to remember is that this class really hasn't see any games so far. When I go back and look at my visitor lists for games during the 2019 season, the only 2023 players who attended were Barnwell, quarterback Dylan Lonergan, running back Ike Daniels and safety Rahmir Stewart. That's it.

Normally, last year would've been the year that Penn State and all of these schools started hosting the vast majority of their top 2023 targets for games, but of course, that wasn't allowed. When I skim over the players Penn State has already offered, I'm only finding game visits elsewhere for maybe 10-15 percent of them, so these guys should be attending as many games as possible this fall before rushing into a decision.

Will we see a commitment or two this season? Yeah, probably. Penn State is recruiting well right now, plus they have a good group of 2022 guys who are contacting other recruits regularly. That should help the staff, but I also don't expect to see a bunch of 2023 players committing this season either. Once junior days start kicking in again in December and January, that's when I see the staff potentially going on another run.


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