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Shaler senior inks deal with Penn State, settles in for season

Jerry Clark
| Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011

It was a Saturday night game at Beaver Stadium on the campus of Penn State. The place was rocking, as the Nittany Lions were about to take the field.

In the players' tunnel stood Shaler football recruit J.P. Holtz, who was still fielding offers from some Division I schools.

That may have been the moment when Holtz decided Penn State was where he would play football and study for the next four years. But last week, he took a step closer to making it official.

Holtz made a verbal commitment to Penn State, and with his season at Shaler still ahead of him, the senior is relieved he can stop answering questions and play some football.

"It is an honor to be recruited by Penn State and to go there," Holtz said. "It is a huge load off my back. (The recruiting process) has been stressful. Now I can concentrate on helping Shaler win a championship."

A couple of visits to the main campus had Holtz sold on Penn State, but it was a meeting with the Nittany Lions' legendary Coach Joe Paterno that sealed the deal.

"Coach Paterno is a great coach," Holtz said. "He has a good sense of humor. It was an honor to meet him, and it will be an honor to play for him."

In recent years, there has been speculation that Paterno could step down at any time, but Holtz said that is not something he was concerned about.

"People say that all the time, but I am not worried," Holtz said.

With the confidence his coach will be on board for awhile, Holtz is excited to be a part of a school and a program he likes.

Holtz was slated to be a linebacker and tight end last year, but made the move to running back to help strengthen the ground attack. This year, Titans coach Neil Gordon hopes to put him back at tight end.

Shaler quarterback Ryan Mincher would not mind having Holtz as a target more often, either, and he can see why Division I schools had interest in him.

"He is a big guy and athletic," Mincher said. "He is fast and as quick as a lot of the other receivers in the league. He has great hands and brings so much versatility. He is an asset."

No matter what position Paterno puts him at next season, Holtz said he is up for the challenge.

"I would love to line him at receiver on every play," Mincher said. "They would have to double him every time, and that would open up so much for me. He is just that quick."

Holtz plans to study criminal justice when he goes to college next fall.

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