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Penn State Highlights Wide Receiver, Tight End Strength In 2021 Recruiting Class

Penn State football’s small and relatively weak 2021 recruiting class has faced plenty of criticism amid an already-difficult year. But James Franklin and Director of Player Personnel Andy Frank think their newest pass-catchers will make a difference in Happy Valley.

On National Signing Day Wednesday, Frank didn’t want to single out any specific recruits he’s excited about because he “loves them all.” But he was able to provide some insight into some guys he thinks will perform above their ratings.

“There are some guys that probably were not recruited as heavily early on in the process that kind of come along and develop into high-end players,” Frank said. “It’s interesting. Some of them, they get bumps toward the end of the recruiting process.”

Although the 2021 recruiting cycle isn’t quite over yet, Frank was specifically referring to four-star wide receiver Lonnie White Jr. White was upgraded to a four-star recruit on 247Sports‘ rankings, climbing from the No. 939 composite recruit in the nation to No. 195.

White, who was once committed to play baseball at Clemson, is particularly valuable due to his athleticism. He’s 6’2″, 210 pounds, and ran 60 meters in 6.58 seconds in 2018. He played lots at quarterback in high school and is also an excellent basketball player.

White is one of four pass-catchers in the Nittany Lions’ 2021 class. He’s joined by wide receivers Liam Clifford and Harrison Wallace and tight end Khalil Dinkins. Wallace and White were touted by Franklin as multisport and multiskilled athletes, while Wallace, White, and Dinkins were singled out as exciting prospects.

“[Wallace] and Lonnie could have a dunk contest against each other,” Franklin said. “I’ve always felt like wide receivers and DBs that can play basketball as well as football, and do it at a high level, the body control and ball skills…those things really translate.”

Franklin also noted White’s ball-tracking skills as an outfielder. He’s not joking about the dunk contest, either. Wallace, standing at 6’1″, can really slam.

Frank agrees with the head coach about Wallace’s basketball skills. Similar to White, he thinks the Alabama native was under-recruited.

“You watch him and you watch his football highlights, and you’re really impressed,” Frank said. “But then you turn on his basketball tape and see ‘wow, this guy’s explosive.’ He can get off the ground, and move around.”

Dinkins, the tight end, is another guy Frank believes Penn State got for a steal. As an in-state, three-star recruit, he didn’t get much “fanfare” throughout the recruiting process. But again, Penn State is impressed by his raw athletic ability.

“Everything he does athletically, he does at a high level,” Frank said. “He’s making plays all over the field. Those things translate to great players down the road because if you can do a lot of things really well…they tend to translate to the college level.”

Despite the class being bookended by a blue-chip offensive lineman, Frank picked three pass-catchers as guys who stand out to him beyond their star rankings. With Jahan Dotson’s exit to the NFL possibly on the horizon, this depth and raw potential at wide receiver will be important to Penn State.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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