Dallastown's Mitchell Groh offered opportunity to punt for Penn State

  • Dallastown's Mitchell Groh has been offered a preferred walk-on spot by Penn State.
  • Groh is rated the No. 19 punting recruit in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking.
  • Groh was named first-team punter on the MaxPreps Pennsylvania All-State team.
Dallastown senior Mitchell Groh, right, poses with former Penn State punter Blake Gillikin during his visit in 2019. Groh was offered a spot to punt for Penn State on Thursday.

Mitchell Groh went right to the top level for his first college football camp.

The Dallastown High School senior attended a camp for specialists at Penn State the summer before his junior year, and he made an instant impression.

The Wildcats’ special-teams standout won the punting competition and enjoyed the opportunity to tour the program he rooted for as a kid and meet Penn State head coach James Franklin.

“It was definitely an unbelievable experience just to go up there,” Groh said. “Just to see all the facilities and the field of the team you grew up watching. It was definitely a neat experience, and to go and win it was just a whole different ball game.”

After that camp, there was back-and-forth contact between Groh and Penn State special-teams coach Joe Lorig. Then, on Thursday, the Nittany Lions decided they wanted Groh punting in Happy Valley for the next four years.

Groh was in a virtual accounting class when he got a text from Lorig asking Groh to call the coach. Groh turned off his Zoom camera and gave Lorig a call. That's when he found out that Penn State had offered him a preferred walk-on spot.

The Wildcats’ specialist said he almost blacked out he was so excited and shocked by the offer because the Nittany Lions’ coaches told him earlier this year that, because of the extra year of eligibility offered by the NCAA to current players, an offer appeared unlikely. Penn State has four punters on its current roster and Gabriel Nwosu, the No. 12-ranked punting prospect by Kohl’s Kicking, is committed to join the team next season.

Groh, ranked No. 19 by Kohl’s Kicking, also holds offers from Miami University (Ohio) and Fordham University. Earlier this week, Groh was named first-team punter on the MaxPreps Pennsylvania All-State team.

Originally Groh, who also plays soccer and hockey for Dallastown, envisioned a future playing fútbol. In January, he attended a Kohl’s Kicking challenge in Florida and proved to himself and college coaches that he could compete with the top prospects in the country.

Groh competed at the event with LSU commit and No. 3 prospect Peyton Todd and realized his future was in football.

“That kind of really made me feel like, ‘I can do something here,’” Groh said. “That moment was the moment I knew I could go somewhere with this.”

If Groh chooses to make Happy Valley his home, he will have some company from York County. South Western’s Drew Hartlaub has carved out a role as a key member of the special-teams unit for Penn State, and Central York junior quarterback Beau Pribula is committed to join the team in 2022.

With the recruiting restrictions remaining in place into 2021, Groh doesn’t anticipate making his college choice anytime soon. He would like a chance to meet the coaches he will play for in college, which gives Penn State an advantage since Groh visited the Nittany Lions for their game against Purdue last season.

Four years of punting and practicing to perfect his craft have paid off for Groh, and now he has a chance to play for the team he grew up rooting for.

“It’s an amazing feeling, and I’m extremely grateful for coach Lorig and coach Franklin,” Groh said. “I have put work into football and they have put work into me. I’m definitely grateful for what they did for me and the opportunity they have given me.”

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.