Forrest punts

Richlands senior Levi Forrest. 

It appears that Penn State University head football coach James Franklin and special-teams coordinator Joe Lorig have the market cornered on kickers from Southwest Virginia.

Richlands High School senior kicker/punter Levi Forrest announced on Tuesday via his Twitter account that he has verbally committed to Penn State.

The Nittany Lions of the Big Ten Conference offered him a preferred walk-on spot with a chance to earn a scholarship.

“That’s awesome,” said Richlands coach Greg Mance. “As a coach you couldn’t be happier.”

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Stout (Honaker) is the current kickoff specialist at Penn State and has also booted two field goals this fall. The two players will be teammates come the fall of 2020.

“Jordan has had a huge influence on my kicking and punting game,” Forrest said. “He’s a main reason I started kicking.”

Forrest attended two camps at Penn State back in the summer and has watched the Nittany Lions play on four different occasions this fall.

“Not only does Penn State have one of the largest followings in college football, they also have the best atmosphere in college football,” Forrest said. “When you are in State College, it’s as if you’ve never left Southwest Virginia. It is in the middle of the mountains and it makes me feel like I’m at home.”

Forrest was a four-year starter at Richlands and has long been on the radar of college recruiters.

As a senior, 51 of his 55 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks and the longest of the 12 field goals he made was 59 yards.

As a punter, he averaged 43.9 yards per boot.

Kicking or punting: Which is Forrest’s best skill?

“Punting,” Forrest said. “I’m a better punter than kicker, but I can do both.”

Forrest has all the tools to excel at the next level. Marshall, Arkansas State, Virginia and James Madison were among the many NCAA Division I programs interested in his services.

“He’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Mance said. “If you look at him, he’s probably the best pure athlete on our football team. He can dunk a basketball, he has the best hands on the team, he’s 6-foot-5 …. He’s not only a great kicker, but a great athlete and that’s what they look for on the next level.”

The next stop for Forrest will come with one of college football’s most tradition-rich teams.

“He’s the best I’ve ever seen and we were all blessed to coach him,” Mance said. “He broke every record for kickers at Richlands and it will be a long time before anybody breaks his records.”

thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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thayes@bristolnews.com | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570

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