In recent seasons the Penn State Nittany Lions have become one of the top destinations for highly recruited TE’s. Their players have not put up the gaudy numbers of some of the lesser programs. However, The progression from Mike Gesicki to Pat Freiermuth shows a willingness to highlight the position.
Long known as Linebacker U perhaps the boys in Happy Valley are seeking to challenge Iowa for the mantra of TE U as well. To that end, James Franklin has secured a commit from highly touted recruit Theo Johnson. The Canadian born player chose Penn State over Georgia, Michigan, and Iowa themselves.
Theo Johnson is an athletic freak. The youngster measures in at an imposing 6’6 242lbs. Johnson profiles as more of a move TE than current starter Pat Freiermuth. However, make no mistake, Theo will have to earn his playing time early on. Freiermuth is one of the top TE’s in the nation and chose to return to school for his Junior season despite receiving a favorable draft grade.
In Penn State’s read-option system 12 personnel is used quite frequently. This two TE formation would allow for Johnson and Freiermuth to be on the field at the same time. While it may be presumptuous to anticipate an early role for the youngster let history be your guide. Position coach Tyler Bowen allowed Freiermuth to see the field as a freshman. You can see from Johnson’s highlight film below just why Bowen may want to incorporate the kid early.
The Penn State Pitch
Recruiting has been one of the hallmarks of the James Franklin era in Happy Valley. Time and again he has managed to bring in some of the most highly recruited athletes. It seems like the master salesman has brought home another prize to his football program.
Penn State hosted Johnson a total of six times during the courtship. The final visit coinciding with the 28-21 Blue and White victory over Michigan. The very fact that Theo Johnson chose Penn State over Michigan & Iowa shows just how much he thinks of position coach Tyler Bowen and James Franklin’s ability to develop his raw skills.
I for one cannot wait to get to next season’s Blue & White game to get a look at this athletic specimen. His skill set should offset Pat Freiermuth nicely for a year until Theo is able to become the featured player when his predecessor moves up to the NFL. Johnson has the looks of a player who will continue the recent history of star TE’s matriculating their way through Happy Valley.
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