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Penn State football misses on No. 1 player in Pennsylvania

The Penn State football team has landed the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania in every cycle since 2022. But that appears to be coming to an end when this prospect did not include the Nittany Lions in his top 5 schools.



Penn State football, Zahir Mathis, Deion Barnes, 2025 Recruiting
Penn State defensive line coach Deion Barnes greets defensive end Zuriah Fisher (36) before the start of a NCAA football game against Massachusetts Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in State College, Pa.

The best in PA, stay in PA or at least that is the goal for the Nittany Lions each year. The Penn State football team isn’t going to keep all of the top talent from their home state but they sure try to keep the No. 1 player in the state in each cycle. This is something the team has been able to do since the 2022 cycle, but now 2025 recruiting prospect Zahir Mathis has already ruled out the Nittany Lions. Deion Barnes has been great as a recruiter and a defensive line coach in 2023, but this might be the one that got away from him and James Franklin.

Penn State football misses on No. 1 player in Pennsylvania

James Franklin takes a lot of pride in keeping the top prospects in Pennsylvania “home” by coming to Penn State to play college football. In the most recent years, he has been able to do just that. In 2022, Nick Singleton made his commitment as the No. 1 player in the state. Then, in 2023 it was Jven Williams who made his commitment. Finally, Quinton Martin who will enroll in 2024 was also listed as the No. 1 prospect in the state of PA.

But it appears that streak will come to an end with 2025 EDGE Zahir Mathis who is currently rated as the No.1 player in Pennsylvania in the 2025 recruiting class. Mathis recently released his top 5 schools which included Ohio State, Florida State, Texas, Tennessee, and South Carolina. Mathis is from Philadephia, Pennsylvania, and attends Imhotep Institute. On3 has him ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 69 player in the 2025 recruiting class.

Deion Barnes needs a final push

Some Penn State fans were skeptical when Deion Barnes took over the defensive line coaching position at Penn State in early 2023. But he has since exceeded expectations with the program. Everyone imagined he would be a good coach but he has also been a very solid recruiter. Helping the Nittany Lions land 2024 4-star prospects Liam Andrews, T.A Cunningham, 3-star prospects Xavier Gilliam, Jaylen Harvey, and several other players.

Although Penn State hasn’t been listed in the top five for Zahir Mathis doesn’t mean the Nittany Lions are out of the race. It just means Deion Barnes and James Franklin will need to work hard to stay in the loop with the top prospect in PA.

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Former Editor-In-Chief at Victory Bell Rings, Morgan is the current Site Manager for Basic Blues Nation, host of the Basic Blues Podcast, and co-host of the weekly Penn State Roar Room spaces. Morgan lives in upstate New York with his wife and cats.