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 a 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.
Penn State coaches excited about what QB Will Levis brings to offense
Penn State makes it a point to target at least one quarterback signee each recruiting class, and that pursuit was among the most compelling storylines this cycle. The Nittany Lions surveyed several prospects at the position, receiving pledges from two players, and ultimately landed Will Levis.
The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Xavier (Middletown, Conn.) senior pledged to Penn State on July 15 and followed through by sending in his letter of intent Dec. 20, the opening day of college football’s early signing period.
“Will is a great young man,” said Josh Gattis, who serves as the Nittany Lions’ offensive recruiting coordinator and receivers coach. “He is so mature beyond his age. When you talk to him you’re amazed every conversation you have with him.”
Levis, considered the No. 2 overall Connecticut prospect in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings, saw his recruitment rise rapidly this past summer. He neared the completion of junior year without a single Power 5 opportunity, but that quickly changed when Levis journeyed for showcase events on college campuses across the country.
“He’s a phenomenal quarterback,” Gattis said. “He’s very talented kid who went out on the summer camp circuit and every place he went he got an offer. He even picked up an offer down at Florida State, which says something.”
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
Iowa, North Carolina, Ole Miss and Syracuse are among the other schools that saw enough potential to extend an offer leading up to his performance at Penn State. Levis traveled to Happy Valley in mid-July, attending a Friday night camp and ensuing Lasch Bash festivities Saturday.
He worked through drills under the direction of former Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. An offer soon followed, and Levis was publicly committed to Penn State the following morning.
Approximately six weeks after losing a commitment from 5-star quarterback recruit Justin Fields, the Nittany Lions landed their man at the position.
Levis went on to deliver his finest prep campaign this fall. He completed 56 percent of pass attempts for 2,771 yards, totaling 33 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 10 games as a senior, according to MaxPreps.
Among our many individual evaluations of Penn State signees and targets this year, here is an excerpt from an October assessment of Levis:
The latest film of Levis showcases a confident quarterback who is in command of his offensive attack. He provides above-average mobility but doesn’t abandon slow-developing pass plays too quickly, displaying patience through his progressions.
His precision in the short-to-intermediate range is very solid, as Levis is able to send darts through windows in traffic. He consistently hits receivers in stride, creating separation and opportunities to rack up yards after the catch. Levis is quick enough to evade linemen and linebackers when the pocket collapses, keeping his shoulders square while maneuvering laterally behind the line of scrimmage. This stretches the defense and creates open pockets for teammates to exploit downfield.
When he elects to tuck the ball and run, defenders are dealing with a challenge in the open field. Levis has 4.8-second speed in the 40-yard dash and builds steam in a hurry. He’s also bigger than most high school linebackers, so his power becomes an issue when it comes time to wrap up.
Gattis explained a key aspect of what drew Penn State coaches to Levis isn’t found in season statistics or physical testing.
“He’s not scared to compete. Some people question where he plays football and the level of competition, but he’s a competitor,” Gattis said. “He came to camp, worked out for us, threw really well, ran really well — he’s the complete package for us. We’re really exited to have him behind center leading our offense for the future.”
Levis expressed relief and pride last week when it came time to sign with the Nittany Lions. He’s confident State College is the ideal destination.
“The process has been extremely long, crazy and humbling, and it’s a sigh of relief to get it over with and sign with such a great school,” Levis said. “It means a lot to my family and me for all the hard work I’ve put in and support I’ve gathered to get to this monumental point. Because of that, it’s a very special day for my family.”
Now a locked-in component of Penn State’s future, Levis has quickly transitioned from recruit to recruiter. He sent a Christmas message to Nittany Lions target Solomon Enis on Twitter last weekend, encouraging the 4-star Phoenix receiver to become yet another addition to an impressive arsenal of offensive talent.
All I want for Christmas is for @SolomonEnis to join this EXPLOSIVE class of offensive weapons. Added to @H55ZY @11DanielGeorge @anderson_quon @JustinShorter15 @pat_fry5 @zackkuntz_717 and @TheSlade_Era … 😳🤤
— Will Levis (@will_levis) December 24, 2017
Levis should encounter a Penn State quarterback room with plenty of experience. The Nittany Lions are expected to return accomplished starter Trace McSorley, who accounted for 37 touchdowns in 12 regular-season games, and highly touted No. 2 quarterback Tommy Stevens, who also worked as a receiver and rusher in 2017.
If things go according to plan with those two, Penn State shouldn’t have an early need for Levis to play. He would seemingly enter the mix for backup reps in 2019 following the departure of McSorley, who will be a redshirt senior next season. His primary competition for that job, as of now, projects to be blue-chip 2017 signee Sean Clifford.
Watch Levis’ senior-season film here:
7 Nittany Lions signees earn All-Pennsylvania honors
Penn State has made it a mission to dominate home turf on the recruiting trail. The Nittany Lions did an excellent job securing Pennsylvania’s premier prospects during the early signing period, finalizing plans with seven of the state’s top 20 recruits in composite rankings, including four top-10 prospects.
Each member of this group earned postseason honors Wednesday when USA Today announced all-state performers from across America. Below is a look at Penn State signees who received acknowledgement for their efforts as seniors.
Jahan Dotson, Nazareth High School: First-team wide receiver
The top-ranked in-state receiver collected 62 receptions for 889 yards and 15 touchdowns. Dotson pledged to UCLA in September but flipped his commitment to the Nittany Lions on Dec. 20 before signing.
Charlie Katshir, Cumberland Valley High School: First-team defensive back
Katshir is expected to transition from safety to outside linebacker as a Nittany Lion, but versatility will always be a pivotal part of his overall game. He filled the stat sheet as a senior, totaling 715 receiving yards, 366 rushing yards, 45 tackles, 4 interceptions and 15 total touchdowns.
Zack Kuntz, Camp Hill High School: First-team tight end
Kuntz completed a highly productive prep career with his first 1,000-yard receiving season, and surpassed 300 receiving yards in his final game of the fall. The 6-7, 230-pound prospect will arrive on campus in January.
— Zack Kuntz (@zackkuntz_717) December 27, 2017
Jesse Luketa, Mercyhurst Prep (Erie): First-team linebacker
Luketa, a native of Ontario, Canada, showcased his skills on both sides of the ball but particularly stood out while roaming the field at linebacker. He secured 80 tackles, 4 sacks and 3 interceptions in 2017. Luketa will be an early enrollee at Penn State.
Micah Parsons, Harrisburg High School: First-team defensive line
Parsons probably warranted first-team all-state consideration at a few positions, as he rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Cougars. Defensively, he collected 55 tackles and 9.5 sacks despite consistently exiting early in games due to large Harrisburg leads. Parsons will compete at middle linebacker in Happy Valley following early enrollment.
Fredrick Scruggs, Cathedral Prep (Erie): First-team offensive line
Scruggs helped pave the way for a Cathedral Prep rushing attack that produced 2,667 yards en route to a state championship. He also starred on the defensive front, recording a career-best 55 tackles, including 11 for loss, and 4 sacks.
Nick Tarburton, Perkasie (Pennridge) High School: First-team linebacker
Tarburton capped off his prep career with nearly 300 total tackles, delivering another dominant display this autumn. He set career-high totals with 98 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and 7 sacks. Tarburton, another early enrollee for Penn State, is also a candidate to compete on the defensive line during college.
Miss any previous editions of our daily Penn State recruiting notebook? You can find them all here.