Vega Ioane aims for ‘big impact’ as he finishes Penn State’s freshman OL class this weekend

The latest addition to Penn State’s 2022 recruiting class will make a 2,700-mile move to campus this weekend, completing a three-to-three freshman offensive line class. Graham-Kapowsin (Wash.) High school graduate Vega Ioane should arrive on Sunday.

“He’s a guy who we think will have the physical opportunity to participate and compete early in his career,” the Penn State head coach said. james franklin said.

Considered the No. 18 offensive guard prospect in 247Sports’ 2022 rankings, 6-foot-4 Ioane reports that he weighs around 325 pounds before signing up, with plans to stretch that frame while growing. acclimating to a college nutrition and training program.

“In my opinion, the biggest thing I have to worry about is the mental part – all the plays I have to learn, all the calls,” he told Lions247. “But physically I feel like I can handle anything.”

Ioane weighed around 295 pounds in 2019 when he made his sophomore college debut. This campaign with Graham-Kapowsin, a perennial national powerhouse, helped put him on the national recruiting radar, but left him dissatisfied.

“I felt like I was a bit too light, to the point that I was getting a little bullied off the ball,” Ioane said.

From that point on, he suffered something of a pendulum when it came to physical development, due in part to the pandemic.

“In year two he was a bit too small. Then, like many kids, the COVID year saw his weight balloon much higher than he would have liked, and it affected his mobility and athleticism. “, observed Seattle-based national recruiting 247Sports. analyst Brandon Huffman.

Ioane admitted that, from the start of advanced 2021, he “I felt myself getting slow”.

“At the end of the spring junior season, he dedicated himself to getting in shape,” Huffman said. “He came back his senior year and everything fell into place. He shone on both ends of the ball for the best team in the state and a top 10 team nationally. … Vega did a great job in transforming his body.”

Ioane’s physical stature stood out to Penn State staff as they welcomed her for a late official visit.

“A lot of times you see guys in a movie and you don’t really know what they’re going to look like in person,” Franklin said. “He showed up here and he was 336 pounds, and he wore it as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. He probably looked like he was 295. You look at his athleticism on tape, and at what how fast his feet were and how light he was standing, [I was] just really impressed.”

That campus visit came just days before signing day, when Ioane finally announced that Penn State was her pick over other finalists from Minnesota and Washington.

“One of the most consistent things that caught my eye was the coaching staff telling me how much they were going to take care of their players,” Ioane said. “I loved how isolated it was. I watch it from a perspective where I can focus on the ball and school.”

(Photo: Vega Ioane)

Ioane verbally committed to Washington State last summer and remained in that class until December, when the Huskies moved from former head coach Lake Jimmy to new hire Kalen DeBoer. He gave this program another look via an official visit in January, but a meeting was not going to take place.

“I got to meet the whole new coaching staff, and they were all pretty cool, but I didn’t really feel it, because my connection with Coach Lake was really good,” Ioane said.

As a result, he found himself among the many rookies who each year see their signing day expectations impacted by coaching changes.

“The whole recruiting process was stressful,” Ioane said. “I was committed to UW for a while and then everything changed. Penn State noticed and they rushed in, took a chance and made an impression on me.”

New Nittany Lions Special Teams Coordinator Stacy Collins played a key role in the process after previously recruiting the Pacific Northwest with Boise State and Utah State. From there, a relationship developed with Franklin and the offensive line coach Phil Trautweinwho maintained communication with his new student.

“He said that (highest rated prospect for 2021) Landon Tengwall spent his freshman year in a redshirt and took time to learn the playbook, get bigger, stronger, faster,” Ioane said. “But for me, I try to make an impact as soon as I arrive there.”

Vega noted footwork and hitting bouldering fundamentals as areas of focus this offseason, while developing increased positional versatility.

“I’ve never played center but for the past few weeks I’ve been working on snaps, just in case,” he said. “It’s the most important thing for me. I have to work on everything, just in case. I’ll stay ready.”

Ioane will meet his first Nittany Lions practice in August, about four weeks before the season kicks off Sept. 1 at Purdue. What kind of impression is he trying to make when the pads are in?

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” he said. “I want to come out and stand out, get known. I want to come out, be a leader and have a big impact.”

Ioane is the fifth purse addition of 2022 for Penn State’s offensive line. He follows his first-year classmates Maleek McNeil and Drew Shelton (tackles), product of Lackawanna College J.B. Nelson (custody) and transfer Cornell Nourzad Hunter (guard) as positional newcomers. The Nittany Lions are still looking to lock down two starters at guard.

“Seeing all these guys move in and stuff, it gets me ready to go,” Ioane said.

Ioane will be traveling alone when moving to campus, with plans for her family to follow along with her own travel. He cited the three-hour jet lag as his biggest environmental adjustment and hopes to encourage other top Pacific Northwest talent to seriously consider Penn State as a college football destination in years to come.

As a freshman, Ioane can go four games without losing his redshirt status. In the long term, he is eager to start building with his new teammates.

“Here in high school, we were able to get to this state championship and this national championship because we grew up together, we worked together, we went through everything together,” Ioane said. “The more we work together here and do this job, the better we will be.”

Penn State will welcome Ioane to team activities as June rolls into July.

“He has positional versatility that could make him a right tackle or play inside at either guard position,” Huffman said. “And as he continues to keep his body fit and add strength instead, he’s blessed to be a really good Big Ten offensive lineman.”