In his final days at Exeter High School before he commits to Pennsylvania, Joey Schlaffer is trying to soak it in as much as he can and express his gratitude.

“I don’t take anything for granted,” Schlaffer said Sunday. “I’m just trying to appreciate everything and everyone that has helped me get to this point because it’s going to be a long time before I walk down the halls and see the faces that I normally see.

“I’m trying to make sure I leave without forgetting anything.”

Schlaffer had a memorable high school football career and helped the Eagles to a 22-5 record over the past two seasons, including the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 2 title, the District 3 Class 5A championship and a runner-up finish, as well reaching the PIAA semifinals.

After standing out at multiple positions this season, he heads to Penn State next month as a four-star tight end prospect and is among the Nittany Lions’ top-15 recruiting class, which will be finalized Wednesday on National Signing Day.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “Obviously the nerves will come with it. This is college. This will be a major adjustment for any student. I feel very good about the people I will share myself with and the environment I will be in.

“I can’t wait to excel on campus and in the program.”

The 6-5, 215-pound Schlaffer and Wyomissing forward Jeven Williams plan to sign national letters of intent with the Lions. They will join Gov. Mifflin graduate Nick Singleton, a Big Ten freshman in 2022, and Berks Catholic graduate Trace Brown in representing Berks County on the Penn State list.

“You have to understand that you’re going to be humbled when you step up,” Schlaffer said. “You’re not the big man on campus anymore. You have to be prepared so that it doesn’t shock you. I’m ready to compete.

“My goal is obviously to be one of the best players in the team, but realistically that’s not going to happen in the first few weeks I’m there. It’s a long process. This happens over time. I am very happy to learn from the guys who are waiting for me.”

Schlaffer and fellow four-star prospect Andrew Rappley of Milton, Mass., are the only tight ends on this Penn State roster, which includes 22 upperclassmen as of late Sunday.

Schlafer played tight end and linebacker for Exeter this season. He was named to the All-BCIAA team as an athlete after making 40 catches for 902 yards and 11 touchdowns and 17 carries for 264 yards and three TDs.

His most memorable moment was a 70-yard touchdown run in a 21-17 win over Manheim Central that clinched the sectional title for Exeter in his first season at LL.

“That was probably my favorite play,” Schlaffer said. “The whole crowd (at Manheim Central) was yelling, ‘Overrated!’ on me Our quarterback (Mason Rotelli) got knocked down and I had to step in at quarterback. The entire student body was behind me yelling at me and I took him home. It was very good.”

Schlafer also takes pride in making Exeter one of the strongest football programs in the county.

“If you look at how the lineup has changed from last year to this year, there’s been a lot of moving pieces on both sides of the ball,” he said. “I think it means a lot to us to have a 12-win season with all those guys stepping up in key roles and a lot of our guys stepping up in big spots.

“It speaks volumes for the longevity of our team and how we plan to continue this business.”

He will soon leave Exeter to begin his time in Pennsylvania, where he will share a home with quarterback Jackson Smolick of West Des Moines, Iowa. He hopes he can have a successful career like his brother Michal Menet did in 2016-20.

Schlafer’s ratings across all major recruiting services have risen since his October 2021 adoption. He said he believes his recruiting class can make an impact for the Lions.

“We all get along very well,” he said. “We’re all guys that have a goal to win a national championship. We are all very, very mobile. We are hungry. We all understand what the main goal is. We’re all really excited to get up there and chase him.”

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