Penn State Class Breakdown: Where PSU's 2023 class stands after Neeo Avery's commitment

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Penn State Class Breakdown: Where PSU's 2023 class stands after Neeo Avery's commitment

David Eckert01/01/22
Article written by:David EckertDavid Eckert


Penn State picked up a commitment from four-star tight end Neeo Avery on New Year's Eve. (Credit: On3)

Penn State Nittany Lions football earned a commitment from versatile, four-star tight end prospect Neeo Avery on Friday evening.

Avery’s commitment gives the Nittany Lions six in the 2023 cycle, which ranks fifth in the nation and second in the Big Ten according to the On3 Consensus.

TE Neeo Avery

Neeo Avery gave Penn State fans a New Year’s Eve present, announcing his commitment to play for the Nittany Lions.

Out of Good Counsel in Maryland, Avery is the fourth DMV prospect in this six-man class for the Nittany Lions, and the third tight end. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds.

Avery is the No. 169 overall prospect in the country, and the No. 10 tight end, according to the On3 Consensus. His future isn’t super clear from a position perspective, though. He has played some quarterback in high school, and impressed as a defensive end last season, too.

“I like the town and the atmosphere around the place. It’s a true college town, and I don’t know too many other places like it,” Avery said of Penn State. “With football, I liked their training room, their weight room. All of their facilities were pretty amazing.”

Avery chose the Nittany Lions from a final three which also included Kentucky and Georgia. He also held offers from the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and Maryland.

OL Joshua Miller

Joshua Miller is Penn State’s fifth addition to the class, giving the Nittany Lions his verbal pledge on Monday.

Miller is the third member of the class from the state of Virginia. The On3 Consensus rates him as the No. 8 player in the state, and the No. 361 overall prospect in the nation.

Listed as an interior lineman, Miller is 6-foot-4, 328 pounds.

“When I really looked at Penn State and compared them to my top schools, I just realized that Penn State had everything I needed,” he said. “There was no more time to waste. It was the right time.”

He chose Penn State over Clemson, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

TE Joey Schlaffer

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

The four-star recruit out of Reading, Pennsylvania, stands at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, and plays for Exeter Township. He is the younger brother of former Nittany Lion offensive lineman Michal Menet.

Schlaffer picked up a Penn State offer in early September, and 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 the No. 344 overall prospect in the On3 Consensus and the No. 11 player in the state.

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

TE Mathias Barnwell

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 late August, giving the Nittany Lions a standout athlete to work with. Barnwell stands at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, and plays for Riverbend in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

“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.”

Barnwell, a four-star prospect, is the No. 275 overall recruit in the cycle, and the No. 14 tight end.

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

CB Lamont Payne

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

Payne gave James Franklin his verbal commitment on the field before Penn State’s White Out game against Auburn.

Payne touted a very strong relationship with Nittany Lion 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, who is not yet rated by the On3 Consensus, plays his high school football at Chartiers Valley and chose the Nittany Lions over the likes of Pitt, West Virginia and others.

OL Alex Birchmeier

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, 265 pounds, and plays his high school football at Broad Run in Ashburn, Virginia.

He is Penn State’s highest-rated commit in the class so far, ranked 31st overall according to the On3 Consensus. He chose the Nittany Lions over the likes over Notre Dame, Georgia, Michigan and Florida State.