Start Spreading the News: Improved recruiting in New York helps Penn State land Tyriq Blanding
While no games are taking place on the gridiron, the month of June is a pivotal time in college football, with programs trying to secure verbal commitments from the nation's best.
Penn State made the most of June, securing five commitments in its 2023 class en route to currently having the third-best class in the country.
One of the players the Nittany Lions scooped up was three-star defensive lineman Tyriq Blanding. Blanding is the top player in the class from New York, continuing the Big Apple to Happy Valley connection.
The connection has grown exponentially over the past two recruiting classes, with four players from New York committing to the blue and white.
The New York City native joins Kaleb Artis and Maleek McNeil at James Franklin’s program, with A.J. Locke planning to walk on.
Locke mentioned Penn State does a great job recruiting from the Big Apple because they do their due diligence and give every kid an opportunity.
“Penn State realizes how much New York matters to football and how important it is to give us a chance,” Locke said. “There are ballers from New York, but we just don’t get the opportunities that kids from other states get, but Penn State takes its time and makes sure every kid gets evaluated equally.”
As for Blanding, his recruitment began in May of 2020 when he received an offer from Miami.
When Miami offered the defensive lineman, he was a freshman at Christ the King high school, and seven more programs offered him that month, including Michigan, Oregon and South Carolina.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted high school sports in New York as the Royals played just four games during the 2020-21 season resulting in Blanding’s recruitment to halt.
After receiving one offer in 2021 from Boston College, his recruitment picked up after he recorded 49 tackles and four sacks in his junior season.
In December, Penn State found itself with a gaping hole at defensive coordinator after Brent Pry left to become the coach at Virginia Tech. Replacing Pry was no small task for the blue and white, but it brought in Manny Diaz, the former coach at Miami.
Two months after Diaz took over as defensive coordinator, Blanding received an offer from the Nittany Lions.
Blanding mentioned it's great to have Diaz in the fold in Happy Valley.
“Our relationship is really cool, with him offering me at Miami when I was a freshman,” Blanding said. “He’s a really good defensive coach, so having him as my defensive coordinator is really great.”
The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman took an unofficial visit in late March, and it was his first time visiting campus.
After the unofficial visit, he received three more offers from Temple, Oregon State and Washington.
However, staying close to him was a big factor in his decision process, and when it came time to take official visits, the Nittany Lions were the first program on his list.
On June 10, Blanding packed his bags and headed to State College for his official visit, and he mentioned it was great to see everything about the school.
“I never really saw Penn State before my official visit because I went for a camp and a spring practice,” Blanding said. “On my official visit, I saw the players, coaches, staff and buildings on campus. I really liked it.”
Blanding wasted little time after his official visit, making his decision known to the public a week after being on campus.
However, he called Penn State to confirm his commitment a day or two after visiting, informing defensive line coach John Scott Jr. first. Scott then put him in contact with regional recruiter Stacy Collins before he spoke with Franklin.
The blue and white weren’t the only team the three-star wanted to take an official visit with, as Michigan was getting ready to host him two weeks after the Nittany Lions.
However, the Wolverines never got the opportunity as Blanding canceled his visit with the blue and maize, mentioning he’s 100 percent committed to Franklin’s program.
The Nittany Lions have had a lot of success producing talent on the defensive line with players such as Shaka Toney, Arnold Ebiketie and Yetur Gross-Matos all in the NFL.
Their ability to produce defensive line prospects played a role in Blanding’s decision.
“I would say that [Scott] and all their coaches really talked to me. They showed me the players they’ve developed,” Blanding said. “Penn State really puts out some good defensive players, year after year. They know how to develop players, and I want to develop as a player.”
Another factor in Blanding’s decision was his relationship with offensive lineman Ibrahim Traore. Traore committed to Penn State in 2019 and has spent the past two seasons in Happy Valley.
Blanding and Traore have known each other since middle school, and having Traore talk to him about his experiences with the blue and white benefited Blanding.
Another New Yorker that was excited about Blanding’s commitment to the program was Locke.
Locke and Blanding play in the NYCHSFL, and although their teams are in different divisions, the duo are close friends.
“Tyriq is my boy. It’s beautiful seeing he got to where he wanted to go, and I’m so happy it's Penn State because I really wanted Tyriq to come,” Locke said. “It’s crazy to see kids like us who didn’t have the same opportunities as others get in front of the right people, and to join together at Penn State, coming from the same background is something you don’t see often.”
Having two of the top players in the league committed to the program is extremely beneficial as the NYCHSFL is filled with talent.
Franklin’s program has displayed interest in three players from the 2024 class, including Locke's teammate, four-star athlete Josiah Brown, Blanding’s teammate, defensive back Mekhi Edwards and three-star wide receiver Korey Duff Jr.
Similar to Locke, Blanding also mentioned it's great to see New York football start to get the recognition it deserves.
“It’s really good to see New York players get recognition because New York is a basketball state, but we got some ballers on the football field,” Blanding said. “Now that New York players are getting more offers, fewer players are going to leave and go to New Jersey or other states, which makes the competition better.”
Alex Rocco is a rising junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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