Blue White Illustrated

March 2024

Penn State Sports Magazine

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2 4 M A R C H 2 0 2 4 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M / / / / / / / T H E C L A S S O F 2 0 2 4 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / E arly in the 2024 recruiting cycle, Liam Andrews was considered Penn State's top target on offense. At the time, he was recognized as the nation's best interior offensive line prospect, and posi- tion coach Phil Trautwein had plans to make him an offensive tackle. Andrews had attended camp at Penn State before his junior season in 2022 and more than held his own against players already committed to the Nittany Lions. His technique and demeanor made him stand out as a younger prospect around familiar names like J'ven Williams, Alex Birchmeier and Anthony Donkoh from the 2023 class. He seemed like a natural fit as a brawler on Penn State's offensive line. But during that junior season at Dexter Southfield in Brookline, Mass., something changed. Andrews, with scholarship of- fers in hand from just about every big program in the country, decided that he wanted a shot at playing on the defensive side of the ball in college. It quickly became a non-negotiable element of his recruitment. Andrews filtered out the programs that were ei- ther planning on playing him on offense or, worse yet, programs that told him he could play on defense but quietly had plans to move him to offense once signed. Penn State was happy to switch up its strategy to land Andrews. Trautwein was swapped out for defensive line coach Deion Barnes, and the rest of the Nittany Lions staff pressed on. "We were recruiting him hard and thought he had a chance to be special as an offensive lineman," James Franklin said on National Signing Day. "But I'm not go- ing to tell a guy what he wants to hear to get him here and then switch it with other alternative motives or agendas. We are not going to do that. "We decided to say, 'Hey, we're going to take you as a defensive lineman.' Deion Barnes was able to go see him work out … and we legitimately felt like this guy has a chance to be a special defensive lineman." Andrews was a top-100 prospect as an offensive lineman according to On3, but the Nittany Lions believed he could excel on defense. "We knew that he was an elite player on both sides of the ball," said Alan Zemaitis, Penn State's recruiting coordinator for personnel. "In terms of the conversation, he wanted to play defense. Well, come on over, because we would take him at either. He's elite on both sides. That defensive tackle position … can really anchor a de- fense. We needed and wanted to get one in the last two classes that we really, really felt good about. Liam kind of fell into the defense's lap in a sense." In the end, Penn State outlasted South Carolina and Wisconsin, with the Badgers being the first program to tell Andrews he could play defense at the next level. He enrolled at PSU in January, and he'll use the spring semester to rehab a previous shoulder injury. "We're excited about him," Franklin said. "He's got some bumps and bruises he's working through right now, but hopefully we'll get him rehabbing and in a position to be able to compete by the time summer camp comes around." — Sean Fitz Andrews had initially been a sought-after offensive line prospect but decided during his junior season at Brookline (Mass.) Dexter Southfield that he wanted to play on the defensive front in college. PHOTO BY DANIEL ALTHOUSE LIAM ANDREWS PSU happy to accommodate New England lineman's change in plans DT | 6-4 | 266 Dexter Southfield Brookline, Mass. Rankings* Stars Nat. Pos. State On3 Industry ★★★★ 131 5 2 On3 ★★★★ 123 2 3 ESPN ★★★★ 128 3 2 Rivals ★★★★ 213 19 2 247Sports ★★★★ 144 24 2 * Andrews is listed as an athlete by On3 Statistics • Led Dexter Southfield to a 22-5 record in his three seasons as a two-way standout Notable • Named New England Preparatory School Athletic Council Class B and Evergreen League Player of the Year in 2023 • Invited to play in the Under Armour All-Amer- ica Game and NBC's All-American Bowl Recruitment • Committed to Penn State on July 21, 2023 • Recruited by defensive line coach Deion Barnes and former special teams coordinator Stacy Collins • Picked Penn State over Florida, South Caro- lina and Wisconsin • Officially visited on June 2, 2023 2024 Projection Andrews enrolled at Penn State in January while recovering from a shoulder injury and will use the spring to get healthy before taking the field. The Nittany Lions got an unexpected boost this offseason when seniors Dvon Ellies, Hakeem Beamon and Coziah Izzard all chose to return at defensive tackle, so having a young player ready to go would be a luxury. Andrews could see the field in a limited role, but a redshirt year is expected. They Said It BWI analyst Thomas Frank Carr: "Andrews shows all the skills of an elite interior defender who can impact the game on all three downs. He's the type of player you want to have matched up one-on-one with a guard as much as possible. The best place to do that is from the B gap as a three-technique tackle." T H E A N D R E W S F I L E

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