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Player Development Key For Penn State Football As High School Recruitment Dwindles

Neither Luke Reynolds nor Ethan Grunkemeyer drew much attention when they committed to Penn State football.

Reynolds, a tight end, picked up his offer from the Nittany Lions on March 18 when he took an unofficial visit to the school on the same day. Reynolds took another unofficial visit to Pitt a day later, but by March 23, he verbally committed to Penn State.

247Sports had Reynolds pinned as a three-star at the time of his commitment, but plenty of sites hadn’t placed the tight end anywhere in their rankings until two days later when he earned a composite three-star ranking. For a Penn State program that had developed high-level tight ends for years, it wasn’t impressive for their lone tight end of the 2024 recruiting cycle.

But Reynolds has only impressed analysts since then. 247Sports ranked him as one of the nation’s top players before updates from other recruiting analysts named him as a four-star recruit and the composite No. 11 tight end in the nation.

Since Reynolds first earned a composite ranking on March 25, he was ranked as the No. 952 player in the country. He’s since bumped up to No. 236.

Reynolds is just one of the latest examples of Penn State’s recruiting strengths. The program isn’t snagging the five-star recruits out of the gate like Georgia or Ohio State, but it is investing in recruits’ development.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks back Mike Yurcich also saw quarterback commit Grunkemeyer upgraded to a four-star status alongside Reynolds. Yurcich offered Grunkemeyer when the young quarterback was in a similar position to Reynolds — a three-star ranking from 247Sports and overlooked by many other analysts.

After an impressive performance at the Elite 11 Finals, Grunkemeyer earned his fourth star in the 247Sports Composite rankings. It’s a similar progression to Drew Allar, who was a three-star recruit when he was offered by Penn State, a four-star when he committed, and a five-star when he walked onto campus in January 2022.

So as Penn State’s recruiting cycle begins to dwindle, there isn’t much reason for fans to worry. The Nittany Lions have room for one or two members on the defensive line, especially if they’re four-star recruits. But the class doesn’t need to grow, it needs to develop.

The Nittany Lions likely won’t have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation when all is said and done. It won’t have the five stars that attract the most attention, but it will have strength. And there’s plenty of reason to believe in a few players seeing upgrades.

Reynolds was unknown a year ago, and now he’s well on the path to becoming a five-star. The same can be said for Grunkemeyer. That’s all without mentioning Quinton Martin, a high-level athlete who is teetering on the edge of a five-star rating.

James Franklin and Yurcich don’t need to rely on players anymore. Penn State needs to rely on their high school coaches to develop them.

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football, and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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