Blue White Illustrated

May 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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5 4 M A Y 2 0 2 3 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M T o say this spring has been busy for Penn State head coach James Franklin and his staff would be an understatement. In addition to all the hours they've spent preparing the cur- rent roster for the upcoming season, they've been doing plenty of work on the Nittany Lions' upcoming recruiting classes. Those efforts yielded verbal commit- ments from On3 four-star athlete Quin- ton Martin, four-star cornerback Jon Mitchell, three-star cornerback Antoine Belgrave-Shorter and three-star tight end Luke Reynolds. They also produced a 2025 commitment, with New Jersey cornerback Omari Gaines choosing the Nittany Lions. Mitchell and Belgrave-Shorter are teammates at Mandarin High in Jack- sonville, Fla. "I'd say Antoine is a bit more physical. He's a great tackler in space," Mandarin assistant coach Cavonte Campbell said. "Whenever I need him to get it done, Antoine gets it done. I think his tackling is very impressive for a cornerback. "With Jon, I'd give him maybe a slight advantage with his hips. But even then, they're both excellent there. There's not much I can really say they need to im- prove on. They're both incredible tack- lers. They both have great ball skills, but if I had to give them an edge anywhere, I'd say Antoine is a bit more physical, while Jon has a bit more of that long- range speed." With Belgrave-Shorter's addition on April 10, Penn State's 2024 class num- bered eight players. The Nittany Lions were up to 12th in the On3 Team Rank- ings, but of course the work continues. By Blue White Illustrated's count, Penn State hosted more than 500 high school players between March 14 and April 8, and that total didn't take into account one of the busiest stretches of the entire spring. The coaches were expected to welcome recruits to campus throughout the final week of spring practice, with another 100 or so prospects anticipated to be in attendance for the Blue-White Game on April 15. The 2024 class is Penn State's imme- diate priority. During a four-week span beginning in mid-March, the Nittany Lions hosted more than 60 players who hold scholarship offers. Eighteen play- ers were on campus March 18, includ- ing On3 four-star defensive lineman T.A. Cunningham. The Los Alamitos, Calif., prospect admitted after the visit that Penn State was in a good position to receive one of his five official visits in June. Ranked by On3 as the No. 14 defen- sive lineman, No. 118 prospect nationally and No. 9 player in California, he said he came away impressed after speaking with Franklin. "Listening to him talk to all the re- cruits, he speaks with no caveats or con- tingencies," Cunningham said. "He talks to you real. Everything he says is the ex- act same thing he would say to a player on campus. He's a real coach, and obvi- ously he's been showing me a lot of love. I've been getting recruited by him since my sophomore year." PUTTING IN THE WORK Penn State's coaching staff is going to great lengths this spring to strengthen its 2024 recruiting class RYA N S N Y D E R | R YA N. S N Y D E R @ O N 3 . C O M FOOTBALL RECRUITING Defensive lineman T.A. Cunningham is the No. 9 prospect in California according to On3 and may be interested in head- ing east to play his college football. PHOTO COURTESY CUNNINGHAM FAMILY

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