Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
5-star DE Micah Parsons receives warm welcome during return to Beaver Stadium
Reunions can be a tad awkward, especially if things didn’t exactly end on a high note the last time two parties crossed paths. Though Micah Parsons has been on campus multiple times since an April 23 de-commitment from Penn State, Saturday represented his first direct encounter with a swarm of Nittany Lions fans at Beaver Stadium since the spring game, which he attended one day prior to backing off the verbal pledge.
It’s safe to say both sides enjoyed the interaction.
Parsons, a 5-star edge rusher from Harrisburg (Pa.) High School, was met by a welcoming ovation when he walked out of the tunnel to watch James Franklin lead Penn State players into Beaver Stadium nearly three hours before a game against Georgia State.
“Stay home, Micah!”
“Come back to the class and be a star!”
“You’re going to help us win national championships here!”
Those were just a few of the phrases I heard yelled in Parsons’ direction during that 15-minute span, which also featured a hug between him and Franklin. You can only imagine what he may have heard while walking directly in front of the Penn State student section approximately an hour later.
Parsons, a one-man wrecking crew who rushed for 3 touchdowns the night before, is considered the No. 5 overall recruit in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings. He collected more than 60 tackles for loss and 40 sacks during his first three high school seasons, spending a considerable amount of that time committed to Penn State.
The Nittany Lions extended a scholarship offer during his freshman campaign, and he pledged to the program in February 2016. He was the first member of a 2018 recruiting class that’s become one of college football’s finest, though he departed it after 14 months in order to explore other options.
Alabama, Nebraska and Ohio State were among his destinations this summer. Parsons spent his first official visit in Columbus, attending the Buckeyes’ Sept. 9 loss to Oklahoma. Shortly after that game, he found himself at the center of social-media drama, ultimately leading to speculation about where things stand between him, the Ohio State staff and the Buckeyes locker room.
Just days later, he revealed plans for a return to Happy Valley alongside Harrisburg teammate and Penn State receiver pledge Shaquon Anderson-Butts. Perhaps it was a return to normalcy after a week in which people ranging from Buckeyes beat reporters to lead ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit focused on far more than Parsons’ football abilities.
Parsons once considered Penn State his future home. Perhaps it still will be. At the very least, it was a place where he seemed comfortable Saturday.
Remember, he was first member of 2018 class. pic.twitter.com/i9FxaURNgD
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) September 16, 2017
Soon after I posted the above tweet, Parsons responded.
“I’m happier to see them,” he wrote.
Nebraska, coming off a perception-shifting home loss to Northern Illinois, is next on his official visit itinerary. He plans to watch the Cornhuskers play Wisconsin on Oct. 7. Parsons previously said he was weighing the possibility of a postseason official visit to Penn State, but maybe a positive experience on campus last weekend will motivate him to return before then. You can be sure Anderson-Butts is aiming to make that happen.
Parsons, who receives his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey Tuesday afternoon, is now projected to sign with Penn State in the 247Sports crystal ball. The Nittany Lions overtook Ohio State atop that outlook early this week, as the Buckeyes led since late April.
Penn State TE commit Zack Kuntz reaches career milestone
The Nittany Lions have an All-America candidate at tight end in Mike Gesicki, who caught a pair of touchdowns in each of Penn State’s first two games this season. However, the senior is primed to become a top-tier NFL draft selection next spring, and the process of replacing his production looms large.
Zack Kuntz, committed to Penn State since November 2016, could help provide an immediate solution. Considered a top-five tight end prospect in composite rankings, the 6-foot-8, 221-pound Camp Hill (Pa.) High senior continues to showcase his elite receiving skills on a weekly basis.
Kuntz collected 152 yards and a touchdown on 4 receptions Friday night during a 52-6 victory over James Buchanan High, according to Brian Linder of PennLive. It’s the second time he’s surpassed 150 receiving yards through four contests in 2017, and it pushed his career total past 2,000 yards.
Averaging 24 yards per catch this season, Kuntz is as skilled as they come at tight end in prep competition, especially when you consider his size. A member of The Opening staff compared him to No. 1 overall 2017 tight end prospect Colby Parkinson during our discussion, and Parkinson has made an immediate impact at Stanford.
Kuntz now has 125 career catches, including 21 that reached the end zone. His best season to this point occurred in 2015, when he tallied 49 receptions for 793 yards and 11 scores, according to MaxPreps, though he is on pace to potentially surpass those totals this fall.
Easily among the most ardently committed members of the 2018 Penn State recruiting class, he attended the Nittany Lions game vs. Georgia State this past Saturday. Kuntz intends to enroll early, presenting him with an opportunity to climb the depth chart during spring camp.
— Coach Cleezy (@EdOBrienScout) September 4, 2017
Nittany Lions WR pledge Shaquon Anderson-Butts receives All-America jersey
The aforementioned Anderson-Butts, who accompanied Parsons on his trip Saturday, enjoyed a celebratory ceremony at Harrisburg High on Monday. He officially received inclusion to the Under Armour All-America Game, earning his jersey in front of a crowd of family, friends and teammates.
Anderson-Butts, a 6-foot, 200-pound receiver, is one of four Nittany Lions commits slated to compete in the game, joining defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, receiver Justin Shorter and running back Ricky Slade. The event occurs Jan. 4 in Orlando, Fla., and it will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Through three games this season, Anderson-Butts is averaging 26 yards per catch with 2 touchdowns. He also plays cornerback.
Dreams do really come true blessed 🏴💯💯 pic.twitter.com/DoVowAjsna
— quon (@anderson_quon) September 18, 2017
Miss any previous editions of our daily Penn State recruiting notebook? You can find them all here.