Blue White Illustrated

February 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 56 of 67

F E B R U A R Y 2 0 2 2 5 7 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M I t's not often that a top football pros- pect ends his recruitment a year and a half before he can sign his letter of intent, but that's exactly what Alex Birchmeier decided to do back in July. The nation's second-ranked interior offensive linemen according to the On3 Consensus, Birchmeier was the first prospect to join Penn State's 2023 re- cruiting class, and he could go down as the Nittany Lions' top overall recruit when it's all said and done. He ranks 31st nationally, which means that there aren't many players out there who could surpass him. Add in the fact that he'll likely only be moving up in the rankings, and there's a good chance that Birch- meier ends up being the most highly ranked signee of James Franklin's next class. It's entirely possible he will have received a fifth star by the time he signs. But for anyone who knows Birch- meier, rankings and recruiting atten- tion are the last thing he's seeking. If his early commitment didn't make that obvious, then our discussion recently with the Ashburn, Va., native should clear things up. BWI Your team, Broad Run High, came so close to a state championship this year, losing in the title game. How would you look back on your junior season? ALEX BIRCHMEIER I think our team re- ally developed well in the offseason. We really took advantage of it, especially after battling with injuries the season before. Everyone committed to getting their bod- ies right after the last season. I feel like we had a lot of senior leadership on the team, which really helped us. That was really an important thing. BWI Did you personally grow in any cer- tain area? BIRCHMEIER I think I developed from a leadership role a lot this year. It was great being one of the team captains, being able to bring guys over to my house, help them work on their offensive line skills. I'm always big on working on the details, so sharing that with my guys and working with them, I think I took a big step there. BWI Is there any area from a technique or skill perspective that you think you im- proved? BIRCHMEIER Leading into this season, I felt like my run [blocking] was fine. I can still develop and add strength, of course, but my pass [protection]could definitely get a lot better. So, I really focused on that. I feel like that's one thing that improved. Also, my overall knowledge of the O-line improved, recognizing where guys line up, different shifts, things like that. That was another important area for me. BWI Since you committed to Penn State, this class has really taken off and now has six commits. Have you built relationships with the other guys? Is there anybody you've become close with? BIRCHMEIER We talk all the time. Ev- ery day, we're talking about what guys we want to recruit. I've become really close with Mega Barnwell, Lamont Payne, Joey Schlaffer, Josh Miller. Josh is one of the big guys on the O-line who is going to help us I N T E R V I E W A L E X B I R C H M E I E R ANCHOR MAN Alex Birchmeier aims to solidify Penn State's offensive front in the coming years, and he's already working to bring more linemen aboard RYA N S N Y D E R | S N Y D E R 4 2 0 8 8 @ G M A I L . C O M Birchmeier is one of the top overall prospects in the 2023 recruiting class, ranking 31st overall according to On3 and second among interior offensive linemen. PHOTO COURTESY THE BIRCHMEIER FAMILY

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