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Pittsburgh area ATH, J.P. Holtz commits to Penn State

Submitted by on July 23, 2011No Comment

Penn State has beaten Pitt for another blue chip WPIAL player out of the Panther’s backyard yet again.

John Paul Holtz, or J.P. for short, out of Shaler Area HS will be Penn State’s 12th member for the Class of 2012 verbally committing to Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions Friday. A decision he then announced on his Facebook page reading, “Committed to the Penn State Nittany Lions.”

Holtz was just about a do-it-all athlete for the Shaler Area Titans. Set to start at the inside linebacker position for the third straight season, the 6’4″, 230 lb player also became the Titan’s number 1 ball carrier last season after Shaler’s top two tailbacks went down with injuries. Instead of buckling under the pressure, Holtz seized the opportunity to step up and emerged as a highly versatile threat for the Titans tallying 14 touchdowns both on the ground and through the air. In fact, during a 3 game span last season, Holtz accounted for 6 touchdowns, scored in 3 different ways; 4 rushing, 1 receiving and 1 interception return. Even as a freshman, Holtz displayed incredible versatility, once stepping in for an injured quarterback and guided the Titans to a WPIAL Class AAAA playoff win over Canon-McMillan and current Penn State linebacker Mike Hull. Oh, and by the way, he’s also an exceptional starting center for the Shaler basketball team as well.

Athleticism that caught the attention of numerous programs and as the season progressed, Holtz racked up an impressive offer list that grew to 14 scholarships from regional programs Boston College, Cinncinnati, UConn, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia and West Virginia as well as B1G foes Michigan State and Purdue. And though he still had a trip to State College scheduled for next month, Holtz felt his mind had been made up. Finally selecting Penn State over Michigan State, Purdue and hometown Pitt in a choice he described as a ‘dream’ decision.

“I wanted to get [recruiting] over with before the season, and [playing for Penn State has] always been like a dream. When you’re from Pennsylvania, it’s a big thing,” said Holtz, who has 14 Division I scholarship offers and picked the Nittany Lions over Purdue, Michigan State and Pitt. “It’s like the perfect place to go to, especially for football, and it’s a really good school, too. I’ll get a good education. I knew it was the right choice.

For Holtz, it came down to the opportunity to play at the next level in a top-notch conference much like how the WPIAL Class AAAA is regarded at the high school level,

“One of the main reasons I picked Penn State,” Holtz said, “is because the WPIAL is like the Big Ten — a lot of big, tough guys.”

Holtz is considered a 3-star tight prospect by both recruiting services, and the #24 tight end nationally by Scout, but Cory James of Fight on State is reporting that he will be a fullback at Penn State. A fitting move considering the versatility he displayed as the Titan’s top ball carrier last season. His combination of size, 4.7 40-yard dash speed and 325 lb bench press will certainly help him succeed at the fullback position.

“I like running back the best. I know that’s not where I’m going to play, but that’s what I like the best,” Holtz said. “I like having the ball in my hands.”

And with another tight end prospect Jesse James already on board for this class, it will leave the door open for the recruitment of highly touted Florida TE Kent Taylor, nation’s top-ranked tight end.

Hearing new #psu commit JP Holtz will be a fullback at PSU. Therefore, PSU still going after FL TE Kent Taylor
Cory James

His high school coach, Neil Gordon had this to say about Holtz,

“He has come a long way in the past year,” he said. “He is an athlete, very good in the weight room. He has a nice frame. The first thing out of your mouth is, ‘There is a Division I football player.’ “

If Neil Gordon’s name sounds familiar to you, its because he was also the head coach of former Lions Ron Graham and more infamously, Anthony Morelli at Penn Hills.

Holtz becomes the 2nd player out of the WPIAL to commit to Penn State’s 2012 Class, joining fellow tight end Jesse James out of South Allegheny.

Welcome aboard J.P.!

Videos and Links after the jump…

Video: JP Holtz’s Clearview Student-Athlete of the Week Award (Pittsburgh’s WTAE video)

Video: JP Holtz winning the Wendy’s Player of the Week (WPIX video)

Post-Gazette’s interview with JP Holtz last September (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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