Blue White Illustrated

December 2023

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 56 of 67

D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 3 5 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M C ompared to many schools, Penn State doesn't have a lot of drama on the recruit- ing trail. For the most part, the Nittany Lions land the recruits they're supposed to land, and their announcements are more low-key than others. But there are a handful of re- cruits in each class who grab the attention of fans more than oth- ers. This year, that player was undoubtedly four-star defensive end Jaylen Harvey of Quince Or- chard High School in Gaithers- burg, Md. Penn State was able to lock up Harvey's commitment on Oct. 16 when he chose the Nittany Lions over USC and Maryland, but the path to that decision was filled with ups and downs that had some fans wonder- ing if coach James Franklin and his staff would ultimately miss out on Harvey. Despite visiting Penn State 11 times — more than he visited both Maryland and USC combined — the 6-foot-2, 245-pound edge rusher needed more time than many observers expected to reach a decision. While Harvey had said from the very beginning that he wasn't going to rush into anything, he also flirted with several potential commit- ment dates, only to subsequently aban- don them and continue his recruitment. The first of those dates followed his official visit to Penn State in early June. Speaking with reporters following his visit, Harvey said he was aiming to make his decision by the end of the month. That plan quickly changed after he sat down and talked it over with those close to him. Within a few days, he had set up an official visit to Florida for June 9-11. Eventually, USC and Maryland also locked up visits for the second half of the month. A July 4 commitment date was also discussed publicly, but again, Harvey decided to hold off. The Gators would eventually drop out of contention, nar- rowing Harvey's list by mid-August. Al- though there was some speculation that he could decide in September, Harvey ultimately chose to not only focus on his season but also to see how his top schools performed on the field. USC and Maryland both hosted Har- vey for games early in the season, with Penn State getting him on campus one final time for its White Out vic- tory over Iowa. By the time he left State College, the Lions were once again the team to beat. Asked by On3 to elaborate on what he liked about PSU, Harvey said, "I would say their communication, their honesty, just the players they develop." The relationships he built with mem- bers of the staff also played into Har- vey's decision. In addition to head coach James Franklin, he spoke with defen- sive line coach Deion Barnes regularly. Barnes, currently in his first season as a full-time position coach with the Nit- tany Lions, made an especially big impression. "He's been a major factor," Harvey said. "Coach Barnes has been recruiting me since I was a freshman, so that's a good con- nection that we got. [Franklin] has been playing a good role, too. He's been keeping in con- tact with me and my mom and dad. He's been checking up on my entire family." Through the first eight games of his senior season, Harvey had made 21 tackles, including 7 for loss and 4 sacks, as well as a safety. He is listed as the nation's No. 362 overall player in the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average of the grades from the four major recruiting sites. He's the 33rd-ranked edge rusher nationally and No. 11 overall player in Maryland for the 2024 class. On3's scouts have assigned him a three-star grade and list him as the No. 39 edge rusher nationally. ■ Maryland Defender Chooses PSU, Ending A Lengthy Recruitment RYA N S N Y D E R | RYA N . S N Y D E R @ O N 3 . C O M Harvey picked Penn State over Maryland and USC a few weeks after attending the Nittany Lions' White Out victory over Iowa. PHOTO BY RYAN SNYDER Jaylen Harvey is a twitchy, athletic defen- sive end with a unique build. The 6-foot-2 edge defender has enough length to play on the outside but is a thick, stocky player who is built from the ground up. While he lacks the elite traits of height and length, he's got enough positive qualities and few negatives to make him a very intriguing defensive pros- pect well worth the effort in recruiting. From a skill standpoint, Harvey has played inside at the three- and five-technique (de- fensive tackle) positions. As was the case with current Penn State sophomore Dani Dennis- Sutton, Harvey's high school experience gives him a leg up on understanding how to take on blocks in the run game. He also displays good hand usage and block-shedding skills, giving him the potential to play early if he can make the mental transition. — Thomas Frank Carr P L A Y E R E V A L U A T I O N COMMITMENT PROFILE JAYLEN HARVEY

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