Penn State coach James Franklin extended scholarship offers to a trio of St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) High School athletes Friday. Quinten Johnson, Keilan Robinson and Mekhail Sherman each officially became Nittany Lions targets while attending a camp in State College.
Robinson, a 2019 running back, received his offer on the field following a blazing 4.34-second 40-yard dash. Johnson, a defensive back and fellow rising junior, claimed his later in Franklin’s office.
Sherman, a 2020 linebacker, followed Johnson’s meeting with Franklin. He left as a rare priority prospect among prep players who’ve completed just one high school season.
Land of 10 caught up with all three teammates this weekend, learning more about their respective skills, how a Penn State offer impacts the recruiting process, and what it meant to share that experience together.
Here’s your introduction to each new Nittany Lions target, ordered by when they received their offers.
RB Keilan Robinson
The Nittany Lions staff didn’t hesitate when the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Robinson scorched Penn State turf Friday in the 40. He received an offer on the field where drills took place.
“They love my speed,” Robinson said. “Speed is a game changer, speed kills. They also love how versatile I am coming out of the backfield. I can run anywhere on the field, and I can catch the ball or sometimes line up in the slot.”
He worked under the direction of Penn State running backs coach Charles Huff, and proved he’s more than a sprinter.
“Coach Huff also stresses good hips,” Robinson said. “He loves running backs who have good hips and are able to avoid tackles. That’s one of the other things they like about me.”
Heading toward his junior campaign, he appears primed for a highly productive fall. Robinson made an impact in 2016, averaging 9.7 yards per carry, according to Sean Fitz of 247Sports.
He collected 487 yards on the ground in six games, adding 10 receptions and tallying 7 total touchdowns. Expectations have since mounted, something that becomes apparent when you speak with his teammates.
“In my opinion, Keilan is the best running back in the nation no matter the class,” Johnson said. “I know he will have a monster season this year and will be a Sunday [NFL] player.”
Robinson, who also holds offers from Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina and Rutgers, explained the importance of this latest collegiate opportunity.
“Penn State is one of my top schools and to have finally earned an offer from them meant a lot,” he said. “All I could do was smile and say thank you for the opportunity Coach Franklin and his staff were giving me. Other schools will see that one of the top programs in the entire country believe in what I can do on a football field, and it might make them start to believe too.”
Claiming the offer along with two teammates made it even more special.
“Schools believe that we have a very talented team, and what happened at Penn state shows that,” Robinson said.
He plans to return to campus for a solo visit “whenever I have the free time.” Expect Robinson to emerge among the Mid-Atlantic region’s premier offensive prospects as his career progresses.
DB Quinten Johnson
Johnson is likely to receive significant interest at receiver and defensive back during his recruitment. He anticipates spending time in the secondary as a college player, though an exact position remains uncertain.
“I see myself playing DB, I just don’t know where,” Johnson said. “I am comfortable to play anywhere they need me but as I start to communicate more with [Penn State] coaches I can get a better handle for where they see me.”
He departed Penn State with a tremendously-positive impression of the program and its leader.
“The experience was truly one of a kind,” he said. “Just being in the same room with a man with as much prestige as Coach Franklin is an honor. For him to respect me as a player and young man to extend me an offer is truly a blessing.”
— Quinten Johnson 🏹 (@_QJ11) June 16, 2017
Johnson is an active defender who does excellent work locating the ball and putting himself in position to create turnovers. Listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, his size also warrants attention with two more years to grow before college enrollment.
Sherman praised Johnson’s tenacity while discussing Johnson and Robinson as older members of the St. John’s program.
“They work, they work, they work,” Sherman said. “They lead by example, don’t take days off and focus on mastering what they do. Those offers are well earned, and I’m just so happy for my teammates.”
Johnson expressed a similar sentiment.
“It definitely means more to get offered with my teammates because those are my guys and I want the same or more for them as I do for me,” he said. “I’ve seen the hard work and dedication they put into their craft.”
Like Robinson, Johnson views an opportunity to play for Penn State as a major personal development. North Carolina previously offered.
“PSU impacts my recruiting tremendously because they are arguably the best program in the history of college football,” he said. “So for them to express this much interest in me definitely tells other top programs that they should be doing the same.”
Johnson doesn’t have concrete plans for a return to Happy Valley, but “definitely” plans on heading back “in the near future.”
He followed the Friday camp with a visit to Ohio State.
DE Mekhail Sherman
Through just one high school football season, the verdict is already out regarding Sherman. This is an athletic specimen with an incredibly high ceiling.
“He is such a freakishly good athlete that when he steps on the field he is going to make a huge impact,” Johnson said.
Robinson echoed the adulation.
“He’s 6-3, 225 pounds, and runs a 4.6, maybe a high 4.5 [40-yard dash] as a freshman,” Robinson said. “He has all the athletic tools that college coaches love. He’s so young and has so much potential. That’s why all these schools are already recruiting him.”
— Mekhail Sherman (@JuicedUpK9) October 10, 2016
Sherman primarily played outside linebacker as a freshman, though he also occasionally lined up at running back. Penn State linebackers coach Brent Pry kept a close eye on him Friday, and Sherman said that position is his probable landing spot in Happy Valley.
Sherman enjoyed his time with Franklin.
“He’s a really chill, cool coach,” Sherman said. “In the meeting, it was mostly jokes that helped ease me. When I first stepped in the office, I was quite nervous to be in the same room with him.”
After breaking the ice, focus shifted to his size and ability.
“If he had the chance, Coach Franklin said he would have me play [for Penn State] this year,” Sherman said.
The Nittany Lions already have welcomed him to campus multiple times. He attended the team’s Oct. 8 victory over Maryland last year, and returned earlier this year for a junior day event.
— Mekhail Sherman (@JuicedUpK9) April 8, 2017
Sherman grows more fond of the program with each trip.
“The environment is amazing and I would love to play in [Beaver Stadium],” he said. “Fans keep the team encouraged even when it’s down. They never let up, and just keep on yelling ‘We Are. We Are.’ It’s a wonderful environment.”
Sherman, who hopes to return for a game this season, also pointed to an eye-opening experience with Pry as cause for increased excitement about Penn State.
“We only spent a short 45-minute practice together but I learned so much from Coach Pry,” he said. “I picked up so many tips. It was amazing.”
Sherman arrived on campus Friday already carrying offers from Maryland and North Carolina. He added another offer during the weekend while visiting Syracuse.
It wouldn’t surprise to see him suit up for his first game as a sophomore with a double-digit offer list. Sherman should be a blue-chip linebacker when recruiting rankings are revealed for the 2020 class.
“I can close down space in a hurry between the running back and me,” he said. “I would rate my pass coverage against tight ends or running backs as a 7 or 8 [out of 10]. Even though I’m getting these offers as a freshman, I need to stay humble and keep working.”
Robinson, who will spend the next two years working against Sherman throughout each practice, praised the immeasurable aspects of the young defender’s approach.
“He’s also a very smart player,” Robinson said. “He makes the right reads and attacks the football. He’s also relentless in his pursuit to the ball. He’ll be a great player for us this year. Once he fully understands everything 100 percent, he’ll be a beast on the field.”