It’s late. But hey, better late than never.
Today, the traditional (for lack of a better word) National Letter of Intent signing day is upon us, which means college programs like Penn State can round up their recruiting classes with the top prospects that remained uncommitted or unsigned after December’s early signing period.
That being the case, here is my scouting report on the one prospect Penn State added on Wednesday, Minneapolis defensive end Davon Townley Jr.
School: North High School (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Projected position: Defensive end
Rating: Four stars by Rivals.com, 247sports and ESPN
Other Power 5 offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington.
Projection: Everything you see on film with Townley has to be qualified by one fact.
His football career basically spans two years, his junior and senior seasons of high school. Before that, he was fairly focused on his basketball career, and he reportedly considered walking on to a basketball program wherever he decided to ultimately play football, once he took off as a defensive end prospect. Once he started playing football, it was clear he’d be a force. He clearly has the frame — 6-foot-6 and a long wingspan — to play the position and be the type of disruptor Penn State likes to have off the edge. As a senior, he played in just seven games with the season shortened by COVID concerns, but he still piled up a pretty good statistical season — 42 tackles, seven for loss and 3.5 sacks to go along with 10 pass breakups.
There are concerns, I guess. He doesn’t seem to have a consistently good first step yet. Plus, he played at a much lighter weight — 220 pounds — than he’s listed at right now (his hometown paper says he’s playing basketball at 265 pounds, which would mean he’s added some pretty significant good weight). The weight thing is always a concern when a guy is dominating because he’s more explosive than the guy across from him, but the Penn State strength team has done a pretty good job adding muscle to younger players without costing them in terms of speed and quickness.
Not sure he’s the same type of freakish athlete, but the Townley backstory and rise up the recruiting rankings is a lot like Jayson Oweh’s from 2018. New to football. So athletic that he can dominate without really knowing what he’s doing. And it’s easy to project great things once he gets in a program like Penn State’s. Bottom line is, he looks the part and is just scratching the surface of what he can be. It’s up to him from here, and that’s the big X factor. But if you’re projecting it out, you could be looking at a guy with three-year starter potential, a guy who can give Penn State a mixture of what Shaka Toney and Owen and Yetur Gross-Matos gave. This upcoming season is likely to be a redshirt campaign, but he’s easily a guy who can get into four games and be ready for serious playing time by 2021.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT