football Edit

Penn State keeping a close eye on TE Joey Schlaffer

The Penn State Nittany Lion football program has already extended over a dozen scholarship offers to prospects in Pennsylvania so far in the Class of 2023.

With 13 players currently claiming offers, the majority of those who are going to get an offer already have, but there are still a handful of players in the state who can realistically still earn an opportunity to play for the Nittany Lions if all goes well during their junior seasons. One of those prospects is tight end Joey Schlaffer from Exeter Township outside of Reading.

The half-brother of former offensive lineman and two-time team captain Michal Menet, Schlaffer will get an opportunity to impress members of the coaching staff this upcoming weekend when tight ends coach Ty Howle makes his way Exeter Friday night to watch Schlaffer play a solid Wilson squad.

“It’s been going really smooth with Coach Howle and that’s how it’s always been,” Schlaffer said. “He’s just a really cool guy. We talk about everything. We’ve talked about his life outside of football, so I feel like I’ve really gotten to know him. I know the area up there, of course, so we were talking about him moving and things like that. We just have a good bond that goes beyond football and I really like that. He’s just a really cool guy, a chill dude.”

Menet was part of Penn State’s roster from 2016 to 2020, so Schlaffer has spent plenty of time in Beaver Stadium over the years. He started attending games while Michal was being recruited back in 2015 and has been regularly on campus ever since.

“You could say I was a Penn State fan growing up," Schlaffer said. "I started really following back when Christian Hackenberg was the quarterback and of course, when Saquon [Barkley] got there, and he blew up, that’s when I really followed closely. Having my brother there, of course, was a reason to follow those teams closely. But I loved watching Saquon run. He’s still my favorite player out there. I love watching him play.”

After his game Friday night, Schlaffer is planning to return to State College Saturday afternoon to watch the season opener against Ball State. He was allowed inside the stadium last year with family, but is looking forward to seeing a normal game day atmosphere back in Happy Valley.

“Penn State games are always something you enjoy. I don’t think anyone leaves there and didn’t have a great time, besides maybe the opposing team and fans,” he said. “But yeah, I think whenever you get the chance to go up and enjoy Beaver Stadium, it’s something you got to do. I don’t have a lot that I feel like I need to see or experience. I’ve been there many times. I’m going up there for more of a reunion, if I’m being honest.

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Schlaffer is already a coveted prospect by schools all across the country. He currently holds 17 verbal scholarship offers, which includes programs like Arizona State, Cincinnati, Maryland, Michigan State, Nebraska, Pitt, Rutgers, Tennessee and West Virginia. Still, an offer from Penn State would be hard to pass up.

“Yeah, it definitely would have a different kind of significance because that’s the place my brother chose to go. Out of all the schools in the country he could’ve gone, he went there," Schlaffer said. "I was the little brother that went to those games for five years, so I grew up loving it up there, liking the school, liking the football program, the environment, all of that. The other big thing is that, he didn’t just go there, but he thrived there, and now he ended up in the NFL. That means a lot to me. That sets a clear path, knowing that’s possible for anyone."

At the end of July, Schlaffer took a road trip down to Maryland and Tennessee a few days before the August dead period started. He also returned to College Park this past weekend to watch the Terps beat West Virginia. He said he has relationships with a handful of coaches elsewhere already, but those two schools have clearly stood out so far.

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the coaches at Tennessee," he said. "I went down there at the end of July and I really enjoyed my time. I like their coaches a lot. It’s all brand new there, top to bottom. Coach [Josh] Heupel is there, and he won a national championship as a quarterback at Oklahoma. I think he knows a lot about having a championship team and what it takes to be successful. I like the offensive coordinator, Coach [Alex] Golesh, who’s also the tight ends coach. They’ve all been at different places and have picked up pieces along the way. I really believe that if they can put it altogether, they can do great things there. I’m real interested in seeing what they can do.

“I’ve also been to Maryland now three times. I actually did a game day visit this past weekend there and it was a really fun game to attend. I know some of the coaches now and some of the recruits, so it was good to see what’s up. I got to talk to Coach [Mike] Locksley a little bit before the game. I also was in the locker room before the game, so it was a fun experience. I had a real good time.”

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