Penn State picked up eight commitments in the month of April, making it one of the most successful recruiting runs we’ve seen under head coach James Franklin’s leadership. However, the run really started just a week prior, as tight end Luke Reynolds from Cheshire Academy in Connecticut kicked it all off with a commitment on March 25.
To get to know the Reynolds better, BWI’s Ryan Snyder caught up with him this weekend for an extended interview. Reynolds opened up about his decision, recruiting other players and much more. Fans can read the complete Q&A below.
Ryan Snyder: I want to start with camp last summer. You came down to Penn State in June 2022 and had an impressive performance. What was the feedback you got from the staff that day?
Luke Reynolds: I definitely got some good feedback on my combine times, how I tested, stuff like that. I actually camped as a quarterback, believe it or not. So, I was looking at my recruitment a little differently then. When this season came around and I started playing some tight end, that’s when the interest took off for me. I look at that as when my recruitment really started for Penn State and most schools.
Snyder: Did you play primarily tight end or quarterback this past season?
Reynolds: I played both, but mainly tight end as it progressed. For the first game, I was just playing quarterback. During the second game is when we started switching back and forth. We had another quarterback on the team, Drew Hall, who’s committed to Navy. He was also a senior. So, every time I was in at quarterback, he would go play the H-Back or tight end position. Then, we’d go vice versa and he’d go to the quarterback position and I would try H-back or tight end. We saw a lot of positive things when I was at tight end, so we just kind of kept it going from there. By the end of the season, I was playing the majority of my time at tight end.
Snyder: When did Penn State really start stepping up their recruitment with you?
Reynolds: I would say after the season when I started getting more and more recognition. We started talking a good bit in January. I believe our first phone call was around then. We kept in touch for a month or two after that until I was able to get on campus to keep building that relationship up. The more we talked to each other, I knew it would be a perfect fit.
Snyder: What was it about Penn State that stood out to you during that first visit? You ended up committing just a week later, so what was that made such a strong impact on you and your family?
Reynolds: There was a lot. I would say the environment was big for me. We got to attend a practice, so seeing the energy from the coaches and players was really unmatched. But there were so many benefits. I would also say the proximity to home. They play some of the best college football in the nation there, so being able to play at that level, on the East Coast where my parents can attend the games, that’s a big thing. Also, just the reputation at Penn State. All the facilities, the traditions, the people. Everything just lived up to the hype at Penn State. When you get to a place like that, and it lives up to the hype, it just makes your experience so much better.
Snyder: How much did your relationship with Ty Howle impact your decision? I assume you built some close relationships with coaches elsewhere. Did that relationship help separate Penn State from other schools?
Reynolds: Yeah, it definitely did, 100 percent. I was fortunate to have a great opportunity to go to other schools and meet with other coaches. Those were good experiences, but there was something about Ty and his tight end room, how the players treat each other and treat him that was just different. It was a different environment, and it was for the better. It was a room I could see myself in. But with Ty, I love him as a coach and as a person. It was just the perfect fit for me. I think our personalities fit really well with each other. I know he’s going to look out for my best interests as a player and as a person.
Snyder: When did you first start talking about committing? You visited March 18 and earned an offer that day. Of course, you committed a week later. I assume you and your family were talking about potentially committing soon after that first visit?
Reynolds: The whole way home my parents and I talked about it. Honestly, it was probably the only thing we were talking about the entire way home. We were all just talking about how amazed we were with the facility there, the people there, just everything. Also, my little brother has been following Penn State football for a while, so he was pretty excited to get the chance to be around everyone. But I would say two or three days after that visit, I still had a different feeling compared to any other school I visited.
I didn’t have that when I was on any other visit. After the Penn State visit, I just knew. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. I didn’t want to think about it and have the possibility of some other kid committing and taking my spot. So, once I knew and my family knew that this was what I wanted, I called up coach. He said let’s try and get you back down there as soon as we can and it just happened that the following weekend worked for us.
Snyder: Since you committed, I’ve had a few recruits mention you as one of the committed guys who have been reaching out to them about Penn State. Are you pretty active when it comes to recruiting other players? How much peer-to-peer recruiting have you been doing?
Reynolds: I’ve been doing my part. Coach Howle and I talk a lot about the top players they want to get and who we think we’re in a good position for. So, whenever I hear about some names of certain players, I’ll always try to reach out to them and build up a relationship. I always want to do what I can to make others feel comfortable about Penn State. If our coaches want them to come play here, I obviously want them here, too. I want to build the best team that we can. So yeah, I definitely do my part with that. I’ve enjoyed getting to know different guys.
Snyder: Your teammate, linebacker Elijah Newby, has an official visit set with Penn State for June. I think he continues to move up the staff’s recruiting board as well. What’s your relationship with him like?
Reynolds: He’s been a big part of my transition coming into Cheshire. He was one of the first people to really welcome me here and has played a big part in my experience at Cheshire. Whether it’s playing football or just my everyday life, Elijah has played a big part in my life since I got here. I’ve definitely been recruiting him to Penn State. We talk pretty regularly about the two of us going to Penn State together, battling it out in practice, stuff like that. We both know how cool of an opportunity that would be. But obviously, as a friend, I want him to do what’s best for him. So, I’m going to apply enough pressure, but at the end of the day, I just want what’s best for him. I want him to take his time and sort through some things. But no doubt, I’m always in his ear about Penn State.
Snyder: Who was Penn State’s competition leading into your commitment? Was there a school or two who was standing out to you at the time?
Reynolds: Honestly, I wouldn’t say there was one or two schools in particular at the time. Before I committed, within the next week or two, I was originally planning to take a couple visits over the next couple of weekends, but I wouldn’t say there was one that stuck out. I think the way that Penn State extended the offer, too, made it special. Some of these offers were just a quick phone call. I really liked Penn State’s approach of getting me on campus before. Just being around everyone, feeling comfortable with everyone, it made it even better. Then, to get the offer from Coach Franklin, sitting in his office, that was easily the most meaningful offer.
Snyder: Have any new schools tried to reach out since you committed? Any top programs that weren’t recruiting you before take notice following the commitment?
Reynolds: Yeah, there have been a few. Obviously, the commitment grabbed a lot of attention, and that caused a lot of people to take a second look at my profile and discover who I am. I wouldn’t say there’s been anything crazy and I’m not entertaining offers from any other schools, so there’s nothing to worry about. I appreciate schools reaching out, but I have no doubts about where I’m going.
Snyder: I like to offer you an opportunity to say something to the Penn State fans reading this before we wrap up. Anything you’d like to tell them?
Reynolds: I would just want them to know how thankful I am for the opportunity. Obviously, it kind of came out of the blue, so I appreciate them accepting me and taking me in as their own. I couldn’t be more excited about the chance to play there. I’m looking forward to getting on campus, meeting everyone and being part of such a great program.
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