Four-star receiver Ejani Shakir announced his commitment to Penn State on Wednesday, and it was a decision he felt strongly about for months.
The Atco (NJ) Winslow standout had a feeling early in the process, and subsequent trips to campus only enhanced his feeling about the Nittany Lions and led to his announcement.
“I feel like it’s a good fit because my first day on campus, when I camped, it just felt like home,” the 6-foot, 175-pound Shakir said. “No place really felt like them, and I’ve been there a couple of times, and I’ve been to a couple of other schools and none of them really felt like Penn State to me. It never felt like home.”
The commitment moves Penn State’s recruiting class to No. 3 (from No. 5) in the nation, and past Ohio State and into the top spot in the Big Ten.
“I could never see myself in that jersey, but I could always see myself in a Penn State jersey. It just felt like home to me.”
Shakir released a top eight in December of Penn State, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Maryland, NC State, Virginia and Ole Miss, but the Nittany Lions long held the edge.
“To be honest with you, I felt like I knew I was going to go there since I went up there (a while ago),” he said. “A lot of schools did not really reach up to their potential (during visits). I knew I was going to go there for a couple of months.”
Penn State receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield did a strong job in recruiting Shakir. They built a tight bond, which is why that is whom Shakir called when he was set to commit.
“What I like about him is he’s not an uptight coach,” Shakir said. “He’s got a little personality and he’s real precise. He wants precision. He wants speed. I feel like that is going to allow me to be the best player I can be.
“The players I saw when I went up there, everybody was identical, but I they had their own little thing to them. Everyone was running good, crisp routes and caught the ball. I think he can use my ability really well.
“I was always kind of nervous to call any coach, so I was like, ‘I’m going to call the receivers coach.’ I got to know him a little bit more. I have been in meeting rooms and stuff like that, so I got to see what he is so I was more comfortable talking to him. “
Coach James Franklin was excited to land Shakir.
“He texted me and was congratulating me and stuff like that,” Shakir said. “He was telling me it’s a smart move, and he said to make sure I am standing out.”
One of the things Penn State likes about Shakir is his speed. He ran a verified 21.82 in the 200 meters as a sophomore.
He spent his first three seasons playing at Pennsauken (NJ) High, and is coming off a junior season in which he caught 28 passes for 555 yards and six touchdowns.