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Derrick Davis Jr. a long-term priority for Penn State
Derrick Davis Jr. became the first prospect on Penn State’s 2021 recruiting target board in December. Two months later, it’s apparent the Nittany Lions can expect abundant company in his recruitment.
The 6-foot-2, 172-pound prospect, a freshman at Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) High School, added an Ohio State offer on Monday. It’s another sign of immense expectations for Davis’ development, and he updated his rapidly expanding recruiting during a discussion with Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly.
Davis called Ohio State “a dream school”, adding he’s been “a big Urban Meyer fan” dating back to the coach’s Florida tenure. Serving reminder of his age, Davis was in first grade when Meyer won a second national championship with the Gators.
“This offer ranks really high for me,” he told Donnelly. “This one is now fighting with Penn State.”
Another high stakes recruiting battle may be brewing between this Big Ten title contenders, but this has the makings of a pursuit that spreads far beyond conference territory. Davis, who also carries offers from Baylor, Pittsburgh, Temple and West Virginia, may reach double-digit college options before his first high school summer break.
“It’s shocking because of how young I am. It’s just flat-out crazy,” he told Mike Vukovcan of Pittsburgh Sports Now back in November, when the offers started arriving. “I’m trying to handle everything good. I’m just very motivated and am going to keep my head right. I’m not going to feed into the hype. My coaches, family and people in the community are reminding me to keep my grades up and to make sure I’m doing the right things.”
Davis, who projects as a standout in the secondary, has personal ties to the program, as Donnelly noted.
Penn State has a significant draw for the freshman superstar from the Pittsburgh area, as well. Nittany Lions defensive backs coach Terry Smith was an All-American at Penn State before going on to great success as Gateway’s head coach. Smith’s stepson, Justin King, was a 5-star recruit and first-team All-Big Ten player during his time with the Nittany Lions. Davis has often discussed the duo’s legacy at Gateway when on recruiting visits to Penn State.
There is a long way to go before Davis determines his college plans, but these Gateway connections have helped established a strong rapport between Penn State and the promising playmaker.
“Knowing Coach Terry and Coach Justin is really great,” Davis said. “Meeting Coach [James] Franklin is an unbelievable experience. Especially being a freshman, a lot of kids don’t get that kind of opportunity. I’m just thankful for it. Going to Gateway, I’ve been knowing Justin and facing him for a long time. All of his records are still in that school and I’m just trying to put my name on that board and take his name down. I talked to him about it during their junior day and he just laughed. He told me to go get it and said, ‘Records are meant to be broken.’”
Davis, who attended Penn State’s Oct. 21 victory against Michigan, is facing a recruitment that will stretch another three years. Few prep football players can relate, though newly enrolled Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons is one of them.
Parsons received a Nittany Lions offer in 2014, during Franklin’s first season at Penn State. The longevity — and ups and downs — of that recruitment serve reminder of how drastically situations can change along the way.
Penn State lauds Davis’ versatility, a trait Franklin and the staff covet, and another parallel has been established between the Pittsburgh area phenom and the Nittany Lions’ most notable 2018 signee.
“Penn State told me I might be another Micah Parsons and that my ability to play around everywhere is unbelievable,” Davis said. “I might mess around and go to linebacker or safety. It will just depend on my weight and how I grow.”
Since extending an offer to Davis, Penn State has expanded its 2021 target board to include offensive lineman Landon Tengwall (Laurel, Md.) and quarterback Caleb Williams (Washington, D.C.).
Watch Davis’ 2017 season highlights here:
Nittany Lions target top-5 TE prospect Isaiah Foskey
Penn State continues to stay busy identifying tight ends of interest. The Nittany Lions entered 2018 with only two offers out at the position, but things have quickly progressed and that total reached seven prospects this month.
Franklin has now offered each of the top four tight end recruits in 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings, including Isaiah Foskey. The 6-5, 235-pound De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) High School junior reported a Penn State offer last Wednesday.
Foskey, the No. 4 tight end and a top-150 overall recruit in composite rankings, earned an Ohio State offer earlier this month. Florida, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas have each presented options since December.
He entered his junior campaign already carrying offers from programs such as Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, UCLA and Washington. It’s probably fair to say Penn State faces an uphill battle here, considering his distance from the university and well-established relationships elsewhere.
Other recent Nittany Lions 2019 tight end targets include Jahleel Billingsley (Chicago), Patrick Herbert (Eugene, Ore.) and Jackson Lowe (Cartersville, Ga.).
Penn State was one of two program in college football, along with the Miami Hurricanes, to sign two top-10 tight end recruits in 2018. Zack Kuntz enrolled early in January, while Pat Freiermuth will join the roster this summer.
Watch Foskey’s junior-season highlights here:
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