CANTON — It has been a long road for Canton’s Ben Knapp. Through not knowing whether there would be a football season due to Covid-19, to now signing his letter of intent to play for football for Penn State University, you get a sense of relief has come over the star tight end.
“It feels great after the whole process to know where I’m going and a big weight off my chest for sure,” said Knapp.
News broke this week that Penn State Tight Ends coach Tyler Bowen would be leaving the Nittany Lions to go coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bowen was instrumental in helping Knapp make the decision to commit to Penn State. Knapp is unwavering in his positive mindset going to state college.
“It’s a huge loss and I worked with him all the way through now, but at the end of the day I committed to the Penn State Football Program and not Tyler Bowen as a coach. As much as I will miss (Bowen), I know Coach James Franklin will have a great replacement who can help get me ready to play.”
There were other schools Knapp was considering, most notably the University of Pittsburgh, but the Canton tight end always knew Penn State was where he wanted to be.
“I really liked the atmosphere and the way the campus felt. All the way through they made it feel like it was home. Then just getting around to meet the rest of the staff, it just felt right.”
Knapp, a two-time (2018 & 2019) PA Writer’s Class A All-State selection, set new Warrior records for all receivers with 93 receptions for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns. Knapp lit up, and led, the Northern Tier League in receiving in 2019 with 41 catches for 741 yards and 8 touchdowns. As a sophomore in 2018, he was 5th overall in the NTL catching 34 passes for 548 yards and five scores.
Knapp credits his coaches and teammates for helping him get to the next level.
“It’s a brotherhood. I’ve had teammates and coaches support me the entire step of the way. To have the confidence each time I step on the field to be ready every week is a huge help. I’m ready, I really don’t get nervous (going from a small town to a huge college program), but it’s a big jump. I’m very excited for it. I’m excited to branch out and work with a lot more people and be around a lot more people.”
Knapp has his personal standards set high for when he arrives on the campus this spring.
“Right away I’m going to get into the shape and physicality that the coaching staff wants out of me. I’ll do whatever they say and whatever they want. I’ll also be focusing on my academics early on because at the end of the day that is what’s going to matter when I leave Penn State. Those are my two primary goals, get my major set and be whatever they need me to be. They’re getting a kid that works hard, that’s very easy to coach, and that’s open-minded. I could show up (on campus) today and if they ask me to change positions I would.”