Penn State expanding into Florida by landing 4-star wideout

Ja’Juan Seider had already landed a commitment from John Dunmore once before. The second time may have been even tougher.

But Seider, Penn State’s newest assistant coach, was hired in part to help the Nittany Lions make further inroads into Florida’s fertile recruiting grounds. And his first major success came on Wednesday evening.

Dunmore, a four-star wide receiver from South Florida, pledged to Penn State over the holiday, announcing his decision on Twitter to become the 11th member of the Lions’ 2019 signing class.

He had previously committed to Florida last year when Seider was on staff with the Gators.

The 6-foot-2, 172-pounder is rated as the No. 107 overall recruit in the country and the nation’s No. 19 wideout in the 247Sports Composite ranking. He becomes Penn State’s second four-star commitment of the week, joining Lance Dixon, the top-rated linebacker in Michigan.

It’s a particularly rare recruiting win for the Lions, who enter the 2018 season with just three Florida natives on the roster — senior Amani Oruwariye and new-arrival freshmen Judge Culpepper and Jordan Miner. And that’s a high-water mark for the program for the 21st century.

Prior to them, the only three Florida recruits Penn State had signed since 2000 were Neiko Robinson (2013 class), Gary Wooten (2011) and John Wilson (2001).

Robinson never suited up for the Lions because of an eligibility issue and Wooten was added six months after signing day in the wake of NCAA sanctions that forced the program to scramble to add depth. Wilson made a handful of starts on the offensive line, including the first five games of the 2005 Big Ten championship campaign before a knee injury ended his career.

Two others — current wideout K.J. Hamler (2017) and quarterback Michael O’Connor (2014) — moved to Florida for their senior seasons at IMG Academy in Bradenton before signing with the Lions.

Head coach James Franklin and Seider are hoping to establish a modest pipeline to the Sunshine State.

“You don’t hire Ja’Juan unless you’re going to make a recruiting shift and you don’t hire Ja’Juan and not recruit Florida  it doesn’t make any sense,” Franklin said in February. “We have recruited Florida in the past, but obviously, once you make this decision, you’re going to recruit it harder. He’s going to get us into some doors because of his relationships and his reputation that maybe we weren’t involved in before.”

Dunmore would be Exhibit A in that regard.

There’s little question that Dunmore’s relationship with Seider was a key factor in landing him, first persuading him to take an official visit to Happy Valley last month before closing the deal.

In past interviews with recruiting services, Dunmore noted that Seider began recruiting him when he was an assistant at West Virginia. When Seider returned to his home state to coach for the Gators, that familiarity led to Dunmore committing to Florida on April 8 of last year.

“He has always been there for me,” Dunmore told 247Sports at the time.

Probably not a coincidence, then, that Dunmore decommitted from the Gators just three days before Penn State officially announced Seider’s hire in late January.

That came after a junior season at American Heritage School in Delray Beach, where Dunmore played receiver, quarterback and defensive back while catching six touchdowns.

He has since transferred to reigning state champion Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood for his senior year.

Dunmore ultimately chose the Lions over Florida, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Miami and Florida State among his dozens of scholarship offers.

Those Southern schools in particular won’t stop recruiting Dunmore, of course. Now it’s up to Seider and the rest of the staff to continue to establish a Florida foothold.

“Now you combine us finishing in the top 10 the last two years with Ja’Juan’s relationships down there, and I think we can continue to make some progress,” Franklin said. “We’ve been able to get a few kids, but I think (Seider) can change some things.”

Below is Penn State’s updated recruiting map, which can be expanded by clicking on the full-screen icon in the upper right corner of the frame.

All recruit rankings and offers represent the 247Sports Composite, which averages the ratings of prospects from 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN.

QB 2018 2019 2020 2021
Trace McSorley Sr. (RS)
Tommy Stevens Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Jake Zembiec So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Sean Clifford Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Will Levis Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Ta’Quan Roberson Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 5 5 4 3
RB 2018 2019 2020 2021
Mark Allen Sr. (RS)
Johnathan Thomas Sr. (RS)
Miles Sanders Jr. Sr. RS open
Journey Brown Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Ricky Slade Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Devyn Ford Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 5 4 3 3
WR 2018 2019 2020 2021
DeAndre Thompkins Sr. (RS)
Juwan Johnson Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Brandon Polk Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
K.J. Hamler Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Mac Hippenhammer Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Cam Sullivan-Brown Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Justin Shorter Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Daniel George Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Jahan Dotson Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
John Dunmore Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 9 9 7 7
TE 2018 2019 2020 2021
Jonathan Holland Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Nick Bowers Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Danny Dalton So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Zack Kuntz Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Pat Freiermuth Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Totals 5 5 3 2
OL 2018 2019 2020 2021
Chasz Wright Sr. (RS)
Ryan Bates Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Steven Gonzalez Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Sterling Jenkins Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Connor McGovern Jr. Sr. RS open
Will Fries So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Michal Menet So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Alex Gellerstedt So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Mike Miranda Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
C.J. Thorpe Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Des Holmes Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Rasheed Walker Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Juice Scruggs Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Bryce Effner Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Caedan Wallace Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 14 14 10 7
DL 2018 2019 2020 2021
Torrence Brown Sr. (RS)
Shareef Miller Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Ryan Buchholz Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Kevin Givens Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Robert Windsor Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Shane Simmons So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Shaka Toney So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Ellison Jordan So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Daniel Joseph So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Antonio Shelton So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Yetur Gross-Matos So. Jr. Sr. RS open
Fred Hansard Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Damion Barber Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Brailyn Franklin Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Nick Tarburton Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Jayson Oweh Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
P.J. Mustipher Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Aeneas Hawkins Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Judge Culpepper Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Hakeem Beamon Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 19 19 15 9
LB 2018 2019 2020 2021
Koa Farmer Sr. (RS)
Jake Cooper Sr. RS open
Jarvis Miller Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Cam Brown Jr. Sr. RS open
Dae’Lun Darien So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Brelin Faison-Walden Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Ellis Brooks Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Micah Parsons Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Jesse Luketa Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Charlie Katshir Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Brandon Smith Fr. So. Jr.
Lance Dixon Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 10 10 8 7
DB 2018 2019 2020 2021
Amani Oruwariye Sr. (RS)
Nick Scott Sr. (RS)
John Reid Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Ayron Monroe Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Garrett Taylor Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
John Petrishen Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Zech McPhearson So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Lamont Wade So. Jr. Sr. RS open
Tariq Castro-Fields So. Jr. Sr. RS open
Jonathan Sutherland Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Donovan Johnson Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
D.J. Brown Fr. (RS) So. (RS) Jr. (RS) Sr. (RS)
Isaiah Humphries Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Trent Gordon Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Jordan Miner Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Jaquan Brisker Jr. Sr. RS open
Marquis Wilson Fr. So. Jr.
Tyler Rudolph Fr. So. Jr.
Keaton Ellis Fr. So. Jr.
Totals 15 17 13 9
ST 2018 2019 2020 2021
Kyle Vasey Sr. (RS)
Blake Gillikin Jr. Sr. RS open
Jake Pinegar Fr. So. Jr. Sr.
Totals 3 2 1 1
TOTALS 85 85 64 48
AVAILABLE 0 0 21 37

Players in italics are non-binding verbal commitments

Penn State coach James Franklin has been looking to expand recruiting efforts into Florida, aided by the hiring of assistant coach Ja’Juan Seider. State coach James Franklin has been looking to expand recruiting efforts into Florida, aided by the hiring of assistant coach Ja’Juan Seider. Ross D. Franklin | AP file photo


By Derek Levarse

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Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse