Dayshaun Burnett may be a four-star recruit, but the Imani Christian linebacker became the fifth WPIAL star from the junior class to commit to Penn State on Wednesday.

On National Signing Day for the class of 2024, Burnett gave Penn State another verbal commitment from a local player in the 2025 class when he made his announcement during a ceremony at Imani Christian, located in the East Hills.

After announcing a top five of Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, West Virginia and Kentucky in December, Burnett (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) posted on social media Tuesday that his finalists had been paired down to Penn State, Pitt and Rutgers. But in the end Burnett went with Penn State, which delivered him his first Power Four offer just after his freshman year at Imani Christian.

“Obviously, Big Ten football is a different kind of football, and the relationships I have with the coaching staff,” Burnett said in Imani Christian’s gymnasium, where he also plays basketball for the Saints. “[Penn State assistant] coach Terry Smith, even before this, he was a big part of my life. He lived down the street from me as a young kid. He’s known me my whole life. I know if I go up there I’m going to be covered.”

Rivals ranks Burnett the No. 7 player in the state, No. 246 player in the country and the No. 20 outside linebacker in the 2025 class. His other offers included Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Duke.

Burnett joins Aliquippa running back Tikey Hayes, Latrobe linebacker Alex Tatsch, North Catholic tight end Brady O’Hara and Central Catholic defensive back Xxavier Thomas as WPIAL juniors that have verbally committed to Penn State. Tatsch committed this past weekend. Tatsch (5), Burnett (7) and Hayes (8) are all four-star recruits ranked by Rivals as being among the top 10 players in the state.

“A lot of guys being from the WPIAL, I feel like our chemistry is going to be unmatched. I feel good about it,” said Burnett, who joined 2017 graduate Kenny Robinson (West Virginia) as Imani Christian players who have committed to Power Four schools.

The commitment from Burnett is the 10th overall for Penn State in the 2025 class. Pitt has received just one pledge in the class and West Virginia only two.

Burnett said that Penn State moved into his top spot about a month ago and that he relayed news of his commitment to head coach James Franklin and Smith when they visited Imani Christian last Thursday.

“I did a little bit of a dramatic pause,” Burnett recalled. “James Franklin, his eyes lit up, so I knew he was excited.”

At Penn State, Burnett said he will be used at outside linebacker and defensive end in order to showcase his versatility. He has also said that the coaching staff has compared his skills to that of former Penn State and current Dallas Cowboys All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons.

“There’s not much he can’t do,” Imani Christian coach LaRoi Johnson said. “He’s extremely coachable. He’s one of the better athletes I’ve coached in my years. He’s dynamic off the edge. The kid can rush. He’s a third-down weapon. Any time he’s around that box, you don’t know if he’s going to blitz. You don’t know if he’s going to drop. You don’t know what he’s going to do because he can do multiple different things. When I see him transition in the game, that’s kind of what the game has become, are guys that can do a lot of different things.”

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at