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Meet The 2023 Class: ATH Mathias “Mega” Barnwell

Best nickname in the class.

BSD’s recruiting staff sat down for a roundtable on each prospect Penn State signed in the 2023 class. Coming in at No. 14 was four-star athlete Mega Barnwell.

What makes you excited about Mega Barnwell?

“Penn State took Barnwell’s original commitment when he was just wrapping up his freshman year of high school. Back then, I think most people viewed Barnwell as the type of prospect that would end up solidly in the mid-four-star area. Instead, Barnwell’s frame grew so massively that it’s put into question if he’s a tight end, defensive end, defensive tackle, or offensive tackle, and because of those questions, he ended the recruiting cycle as barely a four-star.

I add this context because going into watching Barnwell’s film, I was expecting a big kid with a great frame but just so-so athletic ability. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. He looks like a natural pass-catcher – displays good body control when going up for the ball and shows really soft hands, routinely snagging the ball out of the air with one hand.

Still, I think Barnwell is destined for a position switch. I mean, this is a kid who has had to work to stay under 260 pounds as a junior and senior in high school. I just have a hard time seeing him in a college program and not easily getting to 280 pounds. Add in that his long speed is below-average, and I believe his future should be elsewhere.

Personally, I really like the idea of him as a jumbo defensive end. I think he pops more athletically on the defensive line, and he already has a really good understanding of the position – gets skinny, uses his hands, disengages from blockers, etc. He’ll be limited as a pass rusher, but an edge-setting, run-stuffing defensive end has plenty of value.” --Patrick

What worries you about Mega Barnwell?

“Long-term, what position will Barnwell be? Also, as a kid who blew up and grew so much in high school, what will his body do when put into a college nutrition/strength and conditioning program? Whatever positions ends up best suiting what mother nature does with his body (likely offensive or defensive tackle), will he be able to adjust to and learn the position? That’s a lot of question marks.” --Marty

Do you think Mega Barnwell will be redshirted next season? Around what point of his career do you think he pushes for meaningful playing time?

“Penn State has about 37 tight ends on its roster heading into the offseason so Barnwell won’t play next year. If he sticks at the position, the room could clear out a ton after 2023 with Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren gone. Maybe he plays in 2024, but there are a lot of variables.” --Clay

What do you think is the most realistic outcome for Mega Barnwell: depth provider, rotational/one-year starter, multi-year starter, all-conference, or all-american?

Clay: Multi-year starter. I’m not sure I believe this one fully. But I was very low on Barnwell before really digging into his tape and I came out of it way more impressed than I expected. Unlike Patrick, I think he sticks at TE and could help PSU in a number of ways as a jumbo athlete.

Marty: Depth provider. Again, not sure what position Barnwell ends up at, how he’ll adapt to the position, etc. Just too many question marks for me.

Patrick: I’m going with rotational starter here just given the questions on his positional future, but I really like taking a chance on a big kid with a massive frame, plus athleticism, and productivity at the high school level.

Lastly, where do you have Mega Barnwell ranked in Penn State’s class?

Clay: No. 13
Marty: No. 20
Patrick: No. 11