football Edit

Nittany Lions Offer Handful of Regional Underclassmen

Penn State football extended scholarship offers to a handful of regional prospects over the past few days. Maryland wide receiver Peter Kikwata, who played at Watkins Mills this past season before transferring to Northwest in January, was one of the more intriguing players to report an offer. On Sunday evening, the Nittany Lions were the first Football Bowl Subdivision program to offer the 6-foot-1, 170-pound receiver. Since then, Maryland, Pitt, Boston College and Duke have all followed.

"My older brother has been a huge Penn State fan since the days of Joe Pa, so I’ve followed the program pretty close," Kikwata said. "The one thing that stands out to me is the stability that Coach [James] Franklin brought to the program and their consistent improvement over the years. Although I’ve yet to attend their famous white out games, I’ve heard stories of how amazing the atmosphere can get and how invested the students are when it comes to the football program."

The Nittany Lions also offered another Class of 2022 prospect: offensive lineman Drew Shelton from Downingtown West outside Philadelphia. Listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, Shelton already holds seven additional scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Kansas State, Oregon, Pitt, Rutgers and West Virginia.

"Getting a Penn State offer is huge for any athlete from [Pennsylvania]," Shelton said. "Being the hometown school, I grew up watching them on TV and all my friends are huge Penn State fans, so it's crazy to think that it could be me they're watching and rooting for one day."

Shelton's family grew up fans of Michigan, but he added that the Nittany Lions were always "second for me." He's yet to visit any schools, but plans to start as soon as the NCAA allows unofficial visits to begin.

"I have talked to Coach [Ty] Howle a bunch since the stay-at-home order. We have kept in contact, and also Coach [Phil] Trautwein a couple of times," Shelton said. "But [Monday] I talked to Coach Trautwein and Coach Franklin. It was pretty surreal because around where I live, everyone loves Coach Franklin and I got to sit and talk to him on the phone. The talk was pretty cool. On my highlight tape, there's a couple of clips of me versus his old school, so he was busting on me about that. But it was just a fun call."

In addition to Kikwata and Shelton, the Nittany Lions also offered two Class of 2023 prospects: linebacker Josiah Trotter and defensive line prospect Will Norman, both of whom reside in the Philadelphia region.

To learn more about all four prospects, we caught up with Rivals Mid-Atlantic analyst Adam Friedman.

Friedman: Peter Kikwata is a really good receiver prospect in the 2022 class. What stands out the most about him is his explosiveness as a route-runner. He has very crisp cuts and explodes off his plant foot. He measured in a 6-foot-1, but he plays bigger than that. He has great length in his arms and quarterbacks are going to love throwing him the ball the next couple of years in high school and then beyond in college. He has the makings of a top-flight receiver in this 2022 class. We’re looking at him to potentially be a high three-star or low four-star player to start, with plenty of ability to then move up in the rankings. He’s an explosive prospect that does a really good job with the ball in his hands. He has a nose for the end zone, regardless of where he is on the field. He times his jumps well, too. He does a great job catching balls at its highest point and has no problem playing physically with defensive backs. We’re looking forward to seeing more from Kikwata on the recruiting circuit.

Friedman: There’s a lot to like about Shelton as a 2022 prospect. He’s big-bodied - around 6-4 or 6-5, and closing in on 270 pounds now. He does a really good job playing with leverage. That can be hard for some of these taller guys and it really helps make up for what he lacks in muscle mass at the moment. There’s a lot of room to fill out his frame and I expect that to happen over the next couple of years of high school and into college. Strength and conditioning coaches are going to love getting their hands on this guy to really perfect his frame. I love his athleticism as a tackle prospect. He does a good job getting out on reach blocks and into the second level. On screen passes, he does a great job getting down field to make some key blocks. As a pass blocker, we’re looking forward to seeing where he is in his development. We already know he does a good job blowing defensive linemen off the ball, whether he’s blocking down or pulling. We’re looking forward to seeing where he is in his development this coming season.

Friedman: Josiah Trotter is still just finishing up his freshman year, but it’s clear already that he has a lot of potential. The name is familiar because of his dad, former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. Also, his brother, Jeremiah Trotter Jr., is committed to Clemson. Josiah brings a lot to the table, just like his dad and brother. He does a great job playing downhill from that inside linebacker position. The thing that stands out the most on film is his anticipation. He sees running lanes very quickly and does a great job plugging those lanes. As a freshman, he’s a physical tackler, too. That should only get better. He uses leverage to his advantage really well when tackling, staying low and driving his feet. You rarely see him going backwards when making a tackle. He’s always falling forwards and pushing the offensive player backwards. That’s great to see in a player his age. We love seeing that strength, especially in a player that’s only just over 6-foot, 200 pounds This guy has the makings of a national prospect, just like his brother. We’re looking forward to seeing his development from sideline-to-sideline and his ability in pass coverage to be an every-down linebacker.

Friedman: 2023 prospect Will Norman has the makings of a national prospect. He didn’t even play football this past season, but as a basketball player, he showed off outstanding athleticism for his size. He’s currently around 6-6, 230 pounds and has great length. We’ve seen some clips of him working out on the football field, and from the little we’ve seen so far, he brings great explosiveness at the position. What we need to learn is where he stands when it comes to hand techniques, playing with leverage and working off of contact. But no doubt, Will Norman is definitely someone to watch closely in the Philly area.

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