#DominateTheWorld: PPI Helps Penn State Secure German Defensive Tackle
James Franklin made his recruiting intentions known from day one at Penn State, coining the “dominate the state” phrase you can’t get out of your head.
Since then, Penn State’s brand has been re-established and its recruiting power grown, with blue-chip prospects from Texas, Florida, and Oregon signed and enrolled during the past two cycles.
This year, however, has marked new grounds for Penn State football’s recruiting, as Franklin received a signature from German defensive tackle Joseph Appiah Darkwa from the Duesseldorf Panther U-19 A squad.
Darkwa, a three-star prospect, burst onto the recruiting scene late in the process. Much of the attention drawn to him was through the recently created PPI recruiting service, started by former NFL and CFL player Brandon Collier. PPI recruits helps give overseas talent exposure to American college football.
Collier went to Europe hoping to play football after his stints in the NFL and CFL were cut short by injury. He played in Austria and Germany, where he saw a lot more talent than expected.
“I stopped playing in 2017, so PPI started about two years ago. The main reason for starting it was to show these kids that they were at the same level as American kids and that the talent is just as good at some clubs as some of these [American] states,” Collier said.
In the program’s first year, athletes signed with Towson and Duquesne. In the second year, it had a “breakthrough” commitment when defensive linemen Julius Welschof signed with Michigan. This year, PPI had the first overseas quarterback to sign to a Power Five program and numerous other Power Five signees, including Darkwa.
“We’ve learned we can take kids from Europe and go around and travel and compete at different schools and camps. We had some of the top kids at camps and that’s where the respect started growing,” Collier stated.
In terms of Darkwa, Collier describes him as perhaps the most talented of all the players he has mentored with PPI.
“I think Penn State’s getting a guy with unlimited potential, honestly I would not be surprised if he was one of the best defensive tackles to ever play at Penn State with the type of ability has,” Collier said. “If he reaches his maximum potential, I see an All-American in the future. Great athlete with huge upside. He’s a guy coming into college with a NFL caliber frame. He’s got to develop strength, but he’s a 6’5″, 275-pound kid, athletic, he’s agile.”
Collier attended UMass, where his defensive line coach was none other then Sean Spencer. He didn’t inform Darkwa of this, though, because he didn’t want to have any bias or influence over his decision. What drew the defensive linemen to Happy Valley was the brand, James Franklin, and the early work of assistant recruiting coordinator Justin King.
“[The brand] speaks for itself,” Collier said. “Coach Franklin really closed the deal, showing him he was a priority kid, you could tell by his messages that they really wanted the kid. They did everything they had to do to get Joseph. He could’ve gone to Notre Dame, but he told them he wanted to go to Penn State. With Coach Franklin recruiting him, he made [Joseph] feel at home.”
“I give Justin King a ton of credit, he was one of the first ones to notice this kid,” Collier added. “Sometimes the Penn States of the world don’t need to take risks, I don’t think he’s a risk, but I think that by the staff showing and expressing the belief in him was huge.”
For Collier, this is just the beginning with PPI. In the coming years, he expects to have 40-50 kids signing with Division I programs annually.
He’ll also presumably get to watch two of his original clients participate in next year’s White Out, which he plans to attend.
“I will definitely come see the White Out next year, with one of my other guys being at Michigan. Outside of my son being born, that will probably be the proudest moment I can name to date,” Collier said. “It’s surreal, being able to help these kids go to the Penn States, the Michigans, the Notre Dames, it means the world to me.”
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About the Author
After a fundraising year that included no canning and banned events outside of State College, THON 2020 culminated with the announcement that $11,696,942.38 had been raised For The Kids.
If you were caught up in all the excitement and didn’t get a chance to take in the weekend’s best, biggest, and craziest stories, check out our favorites from THON 2020.
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