Penn State Recruiting: Prospects react to Akron game visit; top in-state WR Jahan Dotson commits to UCLA

Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.

Penn State prospects thrilled with program’s season-opening performance

Penn State returned to action this past Saturday afternoon, thumping Akron in its long-awaited season opener. The Nittany Lions built a 35-0 halftime lead before cruising to a 52-0 victory in front of more than 101,000 fans.

It was an impressive attendance total considering noon kickoffs tend to present more of a challenge to get people into their seats, and the morning hours were marred by pouring rain. Penn State faithful enjoyed the performance, which helped elevate the program to No. 4 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

Several members of the Nittany Lions 2018 recruiting class traveled to State College on Saturday, including 5-star receiver Justin Shorter. He watched fellow New Jersey product Juwan Johnson lead Penn State in receiving yards, while another former Garden State recruit ― tight end Mike Geiscki ― caught a pair of touchdown passes.

“Penn State performed extremely well Saturday,” Shorter said. “You can see how they changed from a second-half team to an all-quarters team. It was very impressive to see how they dominated on both sides of the ball. I also liked how much they threw the ball and got it out to the wide receivers.”

The collection of commits on campus also featured tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Zack Kuntz, linebackers Charlie Katshir and Jesse Luketa, and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher.

Mustipher, who pledged to Penn State on Aug. 7, made the trip from his home in Maryland.

“Saturday was unbelievable. My first time back as a commit was everything I imagined,” he said. “The weather didn’t stop the fans from coming out and being crazy.”

Although he followed the game from afar, fellow 4-star defensive tackle commit Aeneas Hawkins of Cincinnati expressed a lot of excitement.

“I knew about all the hype gathered around the team this year, and I think even my expectations were exceeded,” he said. “For an opening game, they looked extremely polished. I was really happy with the defensive Line, and it was crazy to see how many of them got to play.”

Hawkins, who joined the class Aug. 10, plans to attend the program’s matchup with Pittsburgh on Saturday. Expect other commits to join him in Beaver Stadium, as a tight-knit class continues to build camaraderie.

“Spending time with the other commits is always a great time,” Shorter said. “I’m glad I was able to spend time with them and get to know them better.”

Mustipher, who cited his shared Lasch Bash experience with Penn State pledges as added incentive to issue a commitment, relished the opportunity to regroup as an official member of the class.

“As far as being with my future teammates, we all had a great time enjoying the game, sitting back and watching the best team in the country beat Akron,” he said.

It also represented another step toward the realization of what lies ahead for these high school seniors.

“It’s crazy because I’ll be out there next year with the team running out of the tunnel,” Mustipher said.

Along with this collection of 2018 recruits, a top 2019 target caught the action. State College Area High School junior Keaton Ellis made the very short trip to Beaver Stadium, where his father once suited up as a Nittany Lions receiver.

Ellis, a cornerback and the only 2019 Pennsylvania prospect to hold a Penn State offer, plans to attend several games this season.

“I had a great time Saturday,” he said. “Got to meet some of the commits and talk with them a little. The atmosphere there was something special even for a cold and wet game versus Akron. I was very impressed with Penn State’s dominance throughout the whole game. I definitely left Saturday impressed.”

            State-Keaton Ellis
Nittany Lions legacy Keaton Ellis plays his high school home games less than three miles away from Beaver Stadium. (Tyler Donohue/Land of 10)

Top-ranked Pennsylvania WR Jahan Dotson departing Big Ten territory

Jahan Dotson emerged as a national recruiting target during his sophomore year, earning nearly 30 scholarship offers. Considered the No. 1 receiver in 247Sports’ 2018 composite Pennsylvania rankings, this Nazareth High senior previously appeared primed to continue his career in Big Ten territory.

Instead, he is headed to the West Coast.

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound playmaker announced plans to play for UCLA via Twitter on Monday night.

Dotson, who kept things close the vest throughout much of his recruitment, committed to the Bruins following an official visit to Los Angeles. He attended the team’s epic come-from-behind victory over Texas A&M on Sunday night, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.

Looking back toward the conclusion of his junior year, this result would have been highly unexpected. Dotson told me following an April 30 Nike camp that he was focused on three Big Ten programs: Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

At that point, he was one week removed from visiting the Nittany Lions spring game, and explained Penn State probably pursued him harder than anyone during the spring. Things seemed to cool off between Dotson and these Big Ten title contenders during the summer, and there were few developments to shed light on his progression toward an intended preseason decision.

Dotson did visit Alabama in late July, but his lack of trips to nearby Penn State served notice a match probably wasn’t going to happen. The Nittany Lions are dealing with tight scholarship numbers five months before National Signing Day, and difficult decisions must be made.

Clearly, UCLA put substantial effort into this pursuit, and convincing him to travel across the country for its opener helped seal the deal.

Dotson, a scintillating slot weapon, broke out with 1,100 receiving yards and 16 touchdown catches in 2015. He caught 8 passes for 107 yards and 2 scores in his senior-season opener, according to Stephen Miller of The Morning Call.

Penn State presently carries commitments from three 2018 receiver recruits: Shaquon Anders0n-Butts, Daniel George and Shorter. If the Nittany Lions add a fourth pledge at the position, Solomon Enis appears to be the primary target.

The 6-4, 190-pound North Canyon (Phoenix) standout plans to use an official visit in Happy Valley for a Sept. 30 game against Indiana. He is the son of former star Penn State running back Curtis Enis.

Solomon Enis may be the last legitimate Penn State target among uncommitted receivers. (Student Sports/Courtesy)

The post Penn State Recruiting: Prospects react to Akron game visit; top in-state WR Jahan Dotson commits to UCLA appeared first on Land of 10.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.