Blue White Illustrated

September 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 51 of 67

5 2 S E P T E M B E R 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 he Lasch Bash Barbecue is one of the most important days on Penn State's recruit- ing calendar. Coupled with the White Out game in the fall and the Blue-White Game in April, the Lasch Bash helps head coach James Franklin and staff show highly sought-after players what Penn State has to offer. When the coaches are able to convince play- ers to attend all three events, their success rate skyrockets. During the first seven years of Franklin's tenure with the Nit- tany Lions, the Lasch Bash was centered on the current recruit- ing class. The 2017 Lasch Bash, for example, resulted in five commit- ments. In the years that followed, wide receiver Malick Meiga and offensive lineman Anthony Wh- igan also committed to their re- spective classes during or shortly after the barbecue. As important as it has been for Penn State, however, the focus of the Lasch Bash has shifted in the past several recruiting cycles. In- creasingly, prospects have been taking their official visits in June, and that, in turn, has prompted many of those players to verbally commit ahead of their senior sea- sons. With that trend in mind, Penn State lately has been thinking of the barbecue as the unofficial beginning of the next recruiting cycle. This year, Penn State hosted 20 play- ers in the 2025 class who already hold scholarship offers from the staff, and it also welcomed another 10 from the 2026 class. Of those 2025 prospects, seven already boast four-star grades in the On3 Industry Ranking. One of those four-star prospects is safety Kainoa Winston of Gonzaga High in Washington, D.C. Winston, the younger cousin of current Penn State sophomore safety Kevin Winston Jr., is the No. 104 overall prospect in the 2025 class, as well as the No. 10 safety and No. 1 player in the District of Columbia, per the On3 Industry Ranking, which is a weighted average of the evaluations of the four major recruiting sites. He's even more highly regarded by On3's scouts, who list him 61st overall and fifth among safeties. Winston has 18 scholarship offers and will be an important target for the Nit- tany Lions moving forward. The 6-foot, 180-pound prospect spent part of his visit to campus getting to know safeties coach Anthony Poindex- ter. "Today was real fun and chill," he said. "We met the coaching staff and got coached up for a little bit before eating and playing some games. I had a lot of fun. The envi- ronment was great. It felt like ev- eryone was family, and the coaches showed a lot of hospitality. I liked talking to Coach Poindexter. He treated me not only as a recruit but also like family. I also liked seeing little bits of the facilities, which were really nice." Offensive lineman Michael Car- roll of Glenside, Pa., is another player whom Nittany Lion fans need to know. The Central Bucks East standout is the son of former Penn State linebacker Michael Carroll Sr. "It was really great. I felt like a priority today," said Carroll, who has not yet received a rating from On3. "I really liked when we went into the meeting room with all the offensive line coaches and just talked. The coaches said I re- ally just keep improving every time they see me." The 6-5, 300-pound Carroll has been a regular visitor, having trav- eled to State College four times over the past year. He holds early offers from Maryland, Michigan, Michi- gan State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. Another player to watch is three-star quarterback Bekkem Kritza. Originally from Colorado, Kritza now attends Mi- ami (Fla.) Central. Listed at 6-5, 195 pounds, he is the No. 381 overall pros- pect, No. 31 quarterback and No. 56 player in Florida in the '25 class, per the On3 Industry Ranking. Kritza's performance this fall will de- termine how aggressively Penn State pursues him, but the Lions did extend a PSU Welcomes 2025 Prospects For Lasch Bash 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 Four-star defensive back Kainoa Winston of Washington, D.C., is a cousin of current Penn State sophomore safety Kevin Winston Jr. PHOTO BY RYAN SNYDER

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