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Penn State gets massive win in four-star defensive end Tomarrion Parker: Class Breakdown

Penn State needed to land a top recruit at defensive end or they'd be left searching in the second half of the Class of 2023. They did just that with four-star edge defender Tomarrion Parker. (Chad Simmons/On3)

Penn State secured a critical commitment in the Class of 2023 with four-star defensive end Tomarrion Parker. The Phenix City, AL native, chose the Nittany Lions over several southern schools with their chief rival being Florida. The 6-4, 247-pound defensive end is the second commit on the defensive line in the last five days for defensive line coach John Scott Jr. Parker is also the 14th player to commit to Penn State in this class.

The four-star edge rusher is the 71st overall player in this cycle, according to On3. Parker is also the 12th-overall player at his position. In addition, he ranks slightly lower in the On3 Consensus, an equal weighting of all the primary recruiting services, coming in at 99 overall in that ranking.

Class Statistics

National RankBig Ten RankClass Score

Class by On3 consensus star ranking

  • Five-star: 0
  • Four-star: 6
  • Three-star: 8

Latest Penn State Commitment

EDGE Tomarrion Parker

Commitment Date: June 21st, 2022

The buzz around Parker and Penn State was always positive, but it seemed like a long shot that he would commit to the Nittany Lions. As fellow Blue White Illustrated reporter Ryan Snyder always says, “follow the visits.”

In that light, Parker is an extreme outlier because he visited Florida, Georgia, Auburn, and Tennessee four times each. But, Parker made it clear that Penn State was the place shortly after his official visit.

“The coaching staff in general was just perfect for me and my family,” Parker said. “They stayed around all the time, they talked, they laughed. They kept it real with me on how things are gonna go, how they gonna use and things like that, which I loved,” he told On3.

The Phenix City native is the perfect player to add to Penn State’s Class of 2023 defensive line. He’s a high-floor player with college-ready size and advanced positional skills. Additionally, Parker is a good compliment to the high-upside players that Penn State has on the defensive line in fellow edge defender Jameial Lyons and tackle Mega Barnwell. Now that Maryland transfer Demeioun Robinson is in the fold, Penn State has secured a top-100 edge rusher in the last three classes.

Previous Penn State Commits

Blanding passes on Michigan visit, commits to Nittany Lions

DT Tyriq Blanding

Commitment Date: June 17, 2022

Blanding drew the interest of several top schools including Big Ten East foe Michigan, as well as Oregon and Washington of the Pac 12. Blanding had planned on taking an official visit to Michigan but canceled that after his weekend at Penn State.

While New York City is very different than State College, it still felt right according to Blanding,

“I got a really good vibe,” he told BWI. “It really felt like home. Coach Franklin, he does a really good job. He was always there. He was there and with me all the time. It was important to get my family there. Obviously, I’ve been there before, but it’s always good to get my mom’s opinion on it. She knows what’s best for me. And, she really liked it too.”

Blanding is another example of a high-upside three-star that Penn State has added in recent months. He’s not ranked in the On300, but is the third-ranked player in the state of New York and sits at 48th overall at his position.

Haynes earns offer at Penn State Whiteout Camp, commits a week later

WR Yazeed Haynes

Commitment Date: June 12, 2022

Penn State didn’t flip the three-star receiver directly from Rutgers, but the 6-1 burner chose the Nittany Lions shortly after de-committing from the program.

Haynes is not highly-rated in either the On3 rankings or the On3 Consensus, partially due to a lack of testing information and film from his previous season. After running a 4.39 40-yard dash at the Penn State Whiteout Camp, that’s likely to change. For now, he’s the 173rd-ranked player at his position and the 26th-ranked player in Pennsylvania.

Like Shakir, Penn State secured the services of Haynes over West Virginia and Rutgers but they did so before Big Ten West rival Minnesota could get into the mix. Haynes also canceled camps to Tennessee and Georgia after committing to Penn State, so the Nittany Lions scooped up the rising star before he could gain more attention. According to Haynes, there wasn’t much to think about after he got the offer.

“I came back for my visit, of course, and it just felt like home there,” Haynes told Blue White Illustrated. “Everyone was just so family-oriented. I loved the coaches, the players and everything about the school. Even when I was younger, Penn State was always a school I wanted to go to. So, coming up here was just the icing on the cake. I liked everything about it.”

Shakir finds home at Penn State

WR Ejani Shakir

Commitment Date: May 11, 2022

Penn State’s first receiver in the Class of 2023, Ejani Shakir is a four-star prospect. He’s the 46th-ranked player at his position according to On3 and the fourth-ranked player in New Jersey.

Shakir does crack the top 300 players in the nation according to the On3 Consensus rankings, which equally weighs the four major recruiting service rankings.

Penn State was the runaway favorite in Shakir’s recruitment. The 6-foot, 175-pound athlete took five unofficial visits to Happy Valley. Rutgers and West Virginia also hosted him once each.

“The first time I ever stepped on campus there, it was great,” Shakir said. “I’ve been to a few campuses and none of them really felt like that. It just felt like a great fit for me,” Shakir told Blue White Illustrated.

The trust that Penn State developed with the tough-minded receiver was a major determining factor in his decision.

“They’ve really seen me evolve and have stuck with me. Plus, I just think they’re the staff that’ll make me the best player I can be. I can be great there. They can take me to the league, but if it’s not about that, they’ll help me get a great job because of the education there. Everything is great around them.”

Conrad Hussey surprises with April commitment

Saf. Conrad Hussey

Commitment Date: April 25, 2022

Hussey was a surprise commitment to the Nittany Lions with a very short recruiting story. He took his first visit to Penn State on April 8 and then committed 17 days later. Despite the quick commitment and the distance from home – he lives outside Miami, Fla. – Hussey knew what he was getting into.

Conrad Hussey details his commitment to Penn State football

“I know it’s going to be where I [could] get homesick. But, I’m going to have to adjust eventually, because when I make it to the NFL, I’m going to have to get used to the cold weather and all different types of weather. So, it’s best to start now,” he told BWI.

The confidence from Hussey isn’t just apparent in his comments, but also on the field. The rangy safety trusts his instincts and drives on the ball in coverage to get turnovers and make plays. He told BWI that Penn State sees him as a safety but potentially has the flexibility to play corner or in the slot.

Defensive line gets on the board with Jameial Lyons

DL Jameial Lyons

Commitment Date: April 22, 2022

A four-star prospect according to On3’s evaluators, Lyons joined PSU’s Class of 2023 in the spring.

He’s ranked No. 244 overall prospect in the 2023 class. Lyons is also listed as the 31st-ranked defensive lineman and No. 4 prospect in Pennsylvania.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Lyons plays for Roman Catholic High School in Philly. He took six unofficial visits to Penn State before making his commitment. Rutgers and West Virginia also hosted him previously.

“When I dropped my top five, I really had two schools in mind with West Virginia and Penn State,” Lyons said. “At one point, I’m not going to lie, I had West Virginia as my top pick, but then I started comparing things. Who had the best academics? Who produces guys for the NFL? Stuff like that.

More on Roman Catholic coach on Penn State commit Jameial Lyons: “He really has the potential to be a first-round pick”

“I also had a talk with Coach [James] Franklin one day and he was really telling me why the best in PA need to stay in PA. I promise you, when he said that, it really clicked with me. That’s when I knew I was supposed to stay here.”

Mike Yurcich gets his quarterback in Marcus Stokes

QB Marcus Stokes

Commitment Date: April 8, 2022

A three-star prospect, Marcus Stokes joined Penn State’s Class of 2023 in early-April.

He’s currently ranked No. 463 overall nationally according to the On3 Consensus. Stokes is the 24th-ranked quarterback.

The Nittany Lions were the first power-five program to offer Stokes, and a handful of others followed, including Indiana,Pitt, Utah and Virginia Tech. 

“I looked over then at my dad and he had tears in his eyes,” Stokes said after he got his offer. “Honestly, I started tearing up, too. I knew that was just a massive moment in my recruitment and really my entire life. It was one of those experiences that you’ll never forget. Getting an offer from a school like Penn State is just an incredible feeling.”

Stokes stands at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. Out of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, he plays his high school football for Nease.

Lions flip Rappleyea in recruiting saga with Michigan

TE Andrew Rapplyea

Commitment Date: April 3, 2022

The Nittany Lions landed a big-time tight end prospect on April 3 when they received a verbal commitment from Andrew Rappleyea.

Rappleyea flipped his commitment from Michigan, having given the Wolverines’ staff his verbal pledge on January 16.

This time, he says his commitment will stick.

“I am completely and fully committed to Penn State,” he wrote on Twitter. “My recruitment is closed.”

Rappleyea stands at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and is a four-star prospect according to both On3 and the On3 Consensus. He is the No. 16 tight end in the class per the On3 Consensus and the four-ranked prospect in the state of Massachusetts.

A native of Millbrook, New York, Rappleyea plays his high school football at Milton Academy in New England.

Penn State goes on O-line run, adds five-star Jven Williams

OL Jven Williams

Commitment Date: Feb 5. 2022

Already the top talent in Pennsylvania at the time of his verbal commitment in February, Jven Williams’ stock has only risen since, earning a fifth star by On3 shortly thereafter.

Because of that, he’s the top overall interior offensive lineman in this cycle and the No. 11 overall prospect according to On3 experts.

Williams chose Penn State over the likes of Michigan, Oklahoma and USC.

A native of Wyomissing, Pa., Williams stands at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds.

Donkoh commits quickly after visiting

OL Anthony Donkoh

Commitment Date: Jan. 28, 2022

Anthony Donkoh was the first prospect to join the class since the start of 2022.

Yet another Virginia prospect, Donkoh plays his high school football at Lightridge. He’s a three-star prospect by the On3 Consensus, No. 42 at offensive tackle, and No. 620 nationally in the 2023 cycle.

“The campus is beautiful. I’ve never seen a big campus like that before. That really blew me away,” Donkoh said. “Also, seeing the stadium up close, that blew me away, too. I never expected to be standing inside one of the biggest stadiums in the United States and really the entire world. That’s just crazy. But the visit overall was a really good time. I learned a lot about the school and felt comfortable with everyone at Penn State.”

Donkoh chose the Nittany Lions over Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Duke and Liberty.

Family ties bond Schlaffer with Penn State

TE Joey Schlaffer

Commitment Date: Oct. 23, 2021

Joey Schlaffer gives the Nittany Lions an exciting tight end prospect in this class.

A four-star prospect from Reading, Pa., Schlaffer stands at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds. He plays for Exeter Township, who won the PIAA District III 6A championship this past season. Schlaffer is the younger brother of former Nittany Lion offensive lineman Michal Menet.

Schlaffer picked up a Penn State offer in early September. He gave the Nittany Lions a verbal commitment in October.

 “As soon as they offered me, I felt like there was no other choice,” he said. “I kind of felt that my path was set before it even started, if that makes sense. Between my brother’s history there and how much I’ve followed them over the years, this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Schlaffer is ranked No. 446 overall in the On3 Consensus and No. 10 overall in the state.

He chose the Nittany Lions over Tennessee, Maryland, Nebraska and others.

Barnwell keeps the momentum going

DT Mathias Barnwell

Commitment Date: Sept. 25, 2021

Mathias Barnwell was originally Penn State’s first commit in the 2023 cycle, before deciding to open things up again.

He rejoined the fold in September, giving the Nittany Lions a standout athlete to work with. Barnwell stands at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. He plays for Riverbend in Fredericksburg, Va. His size gives him flexibility to play a few positions, but we expect him to start out as a defensive tackle.

“Opening up my recruitment really did help me,” Barnwell told BWI. “I committed at a young age. I’ve got to see way different coaching styles.”

A four-star prospect, Barnwell is the 318th-ranked overall recruit in the cycle, and the No. 12 athlete according to the On3 Consensus.

He chose Penn State from an offers list that also included Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and Ole Miss.

Payne commits ahead of White Out win over Auburn

CB Lamont Payne

Commitment Date: Sept. 18, 2021

Penn State stayed inside the Keystone State for its second commit of the 2023 cycle in cornerback Lamont Payne.

Payne gave James Franklin his verbal commitment on the field before Penn State’s White Out game against Auburn. He touted a very strong relationship with cornerbacks coach Terry Smith in making his choice.

“That’s my guy,” Payne said. “He’s just shown from the beginning that he really cares. He’s calling me every week to build that bond and check up with me. We talk about football, but we also talk about sports, family, and just life. I remember talking to him about history and things like that. He’s just really cool.”

Payne, rated as the No. 468 overall prospect by the On3 Consensus, plays his high school football at Chartiers Valley. He chose the Nittany Lions over the likes of Pitt, West Virginia and others.

Alex Birchmeier gets the class started early

OL Alex Birchmeier

Commitment Date: July 15, 2021

Alex Birchmeier became Penn State’s first commit in the Class of 2023 when he gave the Nittany Lions his pledge back in July. He told BWI at the time that he committed so early because he wanted to help Penn State put together its class.

“I want to take on that role and I think I can help make this class even better than their 2022 class now,” he said then.

Listed by On3 as an interior offensive lineman, Birchmeier stands at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds. He plays his high school football at Broad Run in Ashburn, Va.

Birchmeier sits just outside of a five-star ranking as 31st-ranked overall prospect according to the On3 Consensus. He chose the Nittany Lions over Notre Dame, Georgia, Michigan and Florida State.