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Recruit Of The Week: Zech McPhearson

It’s understood by now that Penn State would love to add two cornerbacks in its 2016 recruiting class. Up until the day after Penn State’s 55-16 drubbing at the hands of Michigan State, they had shutdown Detroit four-star prospect Lavert Hill’s commitment. Things changed quickly, however, as the U.S. Army All-American decided to reopen the recruiting process.

Fortunately, the Nittany Lions already own a solid verbal from touted corner in Zechariah “Zech” McPhearson, but will push hard to land another before National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The Upper Marlboro, Md., native gave James Franklin the exciting news that he planned to play his college ball in Happy Valley this past Blue-White weekend. McPhearson held an impressive offer sheet that most prominently featured both 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game participants, Alabama and Clemson, along with fellow Big Ten East programs Ohio State and Michigan State.

McPhearson’s commitment to Penn State largely centered upon a family connection in Happy Valley. His older brother, Josh, added depth at wideout and punt returner this past season after joining the team as a walk-on out of Nassau Community College. The younger McPhearson is also a highly-regarded southpaw prospect as a center fielder on the baseball diamond. Perhaps he’ll spend his springs donning a blue and white uniform for Rob Cooper if Franklin gives him the go-ahead.

McPhearson is fresh off a standout performance in a high school all-star setting of his own — the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif., where the 5-foot-11, 183-pounder showcased stellar ball skills at corner and plenty of speed (reported 4.49 40-yard dash time) in the return game. McPhearson reportedly finished the weekend on a high note by impressing the coaches and recruiting analysts alike with his overall ability as a playmaker. In fact, Kipp Adams of 247Sports named McPhearson a Top-five performer on defense on days two and three of practice. According to Alex Gleitman, also of 247Sports, McPhearson “looked very fluid in practice, effortlessly providing tight coverage and mirroring the West wideouts during the game.”

Plus, McPhearson made West defenders look silly on this filthy missed field goal return for a 97-yard touchdown that helped the East squad to a 28-13 win. It’s been 62 games since Penn State’s last kickoff return to the house by recent graduate Chaz Powell on the opening play of 2011 against Indiana State.

It just so happens that starting free safety Marcus Allen hails from the same hometown as McPhearson, but the rising junior attended Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School while the incoming freshman drove opposing teams nuts across town at Riverdale Baptist School.

McPhearson will immediately enter a heated position battle at cornerback when he arrives on campus this summer alongside the rest of #DaPride16 that didn’t enroll early for the spring semester, unlike future teammates Jake Zembiec, Connor McGovern, Alex Gellerstedt, and Danny Dalton.

McPhearson is considered the 20th-best cornerback in the nation for 2016 and the seventh-ranked player in Maryland, according to 247Sports. He’ll take his official visit to Penn State the weekend of Jan. 22 with the rest of the committed future Nittany Lions and remaining targets. Expect McPhearson to be in the ear of two major uncommitted recruits: four-star Pittsburgh Central Catholic corner Damar Hamlin and Semper Fi East teammate, three-star McKeesport safety/running back Khaleke Hudson.

McPhearson has the physical gifts and intangibles to make a splash from day one, which might very well be the case given the recent hit to the depth chart following news of Daquan Worley’s intention to transfer. You can check out his Hudl highlight page right here and give him a follow on Twitter @ZMcphearson.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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