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Young tight end picks Nittany Lions early

By Philip Cmor

pcmor@altoonamirror.com

Nine receptions aren’t going to catch a lot of people’s attention, but Pat Freiermuth has been around football to know that there is more to playing tight end than catching passes.

“For me, being a good tight end is being aggressive every single play,” Freiermuth said. “Obviously, you’re going to catch the ball if you have good hands, but, mostly, you’re going to block. My goal is not to let the guy that I’m blocking make the tackle, so I take an edge to every blocking play.”

Freiermuth will be bringing that edge to Penn State, although it won’t be for a while yet. The consensus top-125 prospect – 247Sports ranks him 52nd – on Tuesday morning became the fourth member of the 2018 recruiting to verbally commit to the Nittany Lions.

The nearly 6-foot-6, 238-pound Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. prospect selected Penn State over Syracuse. His other big offers included Maryland, Rutgers, Boston College, Duke and Wake Forest. Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State also were checking in, but he was ready to end the recruiting process after making a second visit to University Park on Monday.

“I chose Penn State because, ever since I first visited there, the coaches showed interest in me and really wanted me to be part of their program,” Freiermuth said. “Going up there for a second visit really solidified it for me. Seeing a practice and seeing how the coaches coach, I just really wanted to be a part of it.

“To be honest, I wasn’t interested in any other schools other than Syracuse. I just came to practice, and, after practice, I realized Penn State was my school.”

Freiermuth transferred from Pentucket High School last year to Brooks, where his cousin, Pat Foley is the head coach.

Freiermuth only caught nine passes as a sophomore in the Bishops’ run-heavy offense, but three of those were for touchdowns and they covered 188 yards. Brooks went 5-3.

“I think they’re getting a really versatile tight end, who is certainly a physical blocker. He was very effective in the run game this past year. We ran it very well. He was a dominant blocker,” Foley said. “When we did throw, he was a great target. I think over his next two years here, we’ll probably throw it more to him. He catches anything you put around him. He’s also a good enough athlete that you can split him out as a wide receiver some, too. At camps, I know a lot of the coaches, Penn State included, liked the idea that he was a kid that they could move around a bit.”

As a sophomore, Freiermuth made all-area as a linebacker, intercepting two passes, forcing two fumbles and scoring a touchdown, and he wound up playing quarterback at Pentucket as a freshman when the starter was injured.

Freiermuth also is a standout basketball player – he netted 21.9 points as a freshman and led Pentucket to its first ever division championship.

Brian Dohn evaluated Freiermuth for Scout.com.

“He has a huge upside,” Dohn said. “He gets off the line of scrimmage quickly and he gets down the field well. He tracks the ball well and catches the pass away from the body. He is a red-zone threat because of his size and athleticism. He stays low as a blocker, engages and drives his legs to control the play. He blocks with effort and enthusiasm.”

Dohn said the big area for improvement is quickness and sharpness with his movements downfield as a receiver. If it’s something technical that needs corrected, though, Freiermuth has a leg up on other players because of his background.

“My uncle used to coach at UConn. He was a center at Colgate. Now he’s coaching at UMass. My cousin who is now my coach played at Bates, coached at Colgate (as defensive coordinator) and a few other places,” Freiermuth said. “My brother plays football at Springfield College.”

Freiermuth began playing football in third grade and was immediately moved up to the fifth grade team.

When he enrolls, he’ll be the second Massachusetts tight end on the Nittany Lion roster, joining 2016 early enrollee Danny Dalton.

Freiermuth might not be the only tight end the Lions sign in 2018. They also have offers out to Zack Kuntz of Camp Hill, Jeremy Ruckert of New York and Kyle Pitts of Archbishop Wood.

Kuntz, whose two older brothers played for the Nittany Lions, is regarded as the top tight end prospect in the junior class, but it looks like Penn State is trailing both Stanford and Notre Dame to secure his services.