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Penn State's 'Smart' Recruiting Strategy Pays Off With Marcus Stokes

John Garcia, Jr., Sports Illustrated's director of recruiting, calls Stokes a perfect counterpoint to Drew Allar.

Quarterback Marcus Stokes brought his live arm to the Elite 11 Finals in June, giving the nation's best talent (and talent evaluators) a glimpse of his skills. Among those most impressed was John Garcia, Jr., Sports Illustrated's director of football recruiting.

"The arm talent really is undeniable," Garcia said. "He's as confident a quarterback as there is, and there's so much dynamite in his right arm [with] just a dynamic release. It's quick, it's strong, he's comfortable doing that in the pocket, off-platform, and on the run. Whenever you need that money throw, he's the most capable to do it."

Stokes is one of the most intriguing prospects in Penn State's 2023 recruiting class, a 6-2 quarterback from Florida who brings plenty of bravado and swagger to the position. He was among the 20 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles, where Stokes debuted one of the nation's strongest arms.

Stokes threw for 2,672 yards and 22 touchdowns last season at Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., and Penn State noticed quickly. Head coach James Franklin and his staff made Stokes his first Power 5 scholarship offer and turned that into an April commitment.

Now, many schools (notably those in Florida) are taking notice, but Stokes has reaffirmed his commitment to the Lions.

"It says a lot about Penn State's scouting, being on him sooner than basically all the schools in the area," Garcia said. "It seemed like before he committed, Florida, Miami and all these schools were nearing that scholarship offer, and just before they could get there, Penn State had him committed. And he's saying all the right things since that point, even though Florida still is looking for a quarterback. So that will be interesting to follow."

Garcia said Stokes brings tangible "bravado" to the position, a characteristic that blends nicely with freshman quarterback Drew Allar. Last year, Allar was among the nation's most highly ranked quarterback recruits, and Garcia said Penn State showed wisdom in recruiting the different talents.

"[Stokes] is kind of the antithesis of Drew Allar, so I think it’s so smart to bring them in back-to-back," Garcia said. "You've got your big, classic pocket-style guy [in Allar], although he can run certainly, but really he does his best work from the pocket. And then Marcus is this kind of gunslinger — huge arm, confident kind of kid. So I think it’s a nice counter from one cycle to the next."

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Stokes has some "polish" to add during his senior year, notably with his accuracy and footwork, Garcia said. But at Elite 11, Garcia drew one strong conclusion.

"He's got a ways to go, but I do think the raw torque in his right arm is something to behold, and seeing that among the nation's best, it still stands true," Garcia said. "... That right arm is truly dynamic."

Watch the video above for more from Garcia about Stokes and Penn State's 2023 recruiting class.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.