Penn State's recruiting efforts were really cooking over the summer, culminating with the commitment of four-star cornerback Armani Reeves in early August. One more commitment from Malik Golden a couple weeks later, and the 17 current commits make up a pretty solid class (currently ranked No. 12 at Scout, No. 14 at Rivals). But just as the current team has started to slip a little, so has the recruiting process.
First, Will Mahone has essentially dropped Penn State from near the top of his list to completely off his list after a miserable experience last week at the Alabama game. He showed up late, which is no fault of Penn State, but wasn't able to sit next to any other recruits and wasn't given a field pass to enjoy the great atmosphere from field level. Throw in a "great time" on an official visit to Notre Dame, and the Irish seem to be sitting pretty at the moment. This went from a Penn State-everyone else race 10 days ago to what appears to be Notre Dame-Pitt at the moment.
Yesterday, four-star receiver Canaan Severin made his decision, opting to attend Virginia over Penn State and Boston College. The timing seemed just right for the Nittany Lions, as Severin set his announcement date just a week after what seemed to be a great trip to Happy Valley. Unfortunately, Mike London struck again, taking Severin (along with PSU targets Eli Harold and Mike Moore this year, and Darius Jennings and Brandon Phelps last year).
The non-commitment of Severin doesn't hurt as much as Mahone's dropping the Lions, as wide receiver isn't a position of real need this year (only Derek Moye will graduate this year, and Eugene Lewis is already on board). But losing out on Mahone stings, as the staff needs to land a quality running back in this class, and the cupboard is getting bare for viable recruits.
It's tough to say at this point who might be next. The excitement of being at the Alabama game has worn off without a commitment, and the remainder of the top targets have all said they want to wait until after their seasons to make a college choice. So we'll stick with our 17 guys for awhile, and wait for the next siren. If the stars align, we could finish up really well. But the risk is still there to miss on some top recruits, so let's hope that the staff (really, Cam Williams at this point) can right the ship.
Penn State Class of 2012 commitments listed above each group in bold with commitment dates
Quarterback (2012 Quota: 1-2)
Skyler Mornhinweg (PA, 7/19/2011)
1. Devin Fuller (NJ)
Analysis: Shrouded in mystery (seriously, one of Fuller's cuts was a top eleven), this has been shaping into a Rutgers/Nebraska/Penn State race recently. Rutgers is the hometown favorite, and Nebaska recently gained a commitment from three-star QB Tommy Armstrong. The former will be tough to overcome while the latter might make this a two-horse race.
Running Back (2012 Quota: 1-2)
1. Akeel Lynch (NY)
2. Kenno Loyal (GA)
3. Drew Harris (PA)
Analysis: Reports out of Penn State show that Bill Belton is now practicing with the running backs, a shift from his expected slot receiver role. Now that Mahone has dropped Penn State, the options are getting limited. Lynch is committed to Boston College at the moment, but appears to be the best shot at the needed running back.
Wide Receiver (2012 Quota: 2-3)
Eugene Lewis (PA, 8/10/2011)
1. Jordan Payton (CA)
Analysis: I don't think Payton will end up at Penn State (if he heads east, it's likely to Michigan, but my bet is that he stays somewhere in CA). With Severin off the board, wide receiver recruiting is at a stalemate. There could always be a late bloomer, but this position could also be done for the year.
Tight End (2012 Quota: 2-3)
Brent Wilkerson (MD, 3/26/2011)
Jesse James (PA, 3/28,2011)
J.P. Holtz (PA, 7/22/2011)
1. Kent Taylor (FL)
Analysis: It's tough to say where any of these three commits will end up, so landing Kent Taylor is not paramount, especially given the recent report that Penn State is sitting well ($ - info in title) with Class of '13 TE Adam Breneman. Taylor looks like a solid prospect that the staff will certainly find a spot for if he chooses Penn State.
Offensive Line (2012 Quota: 4-5)
Anthony Stanko (OH, 3/19/2011)
J.J. Denman (PA, 5/18/2011)
Joey O’Connor (CO, 6/28/2011)
Analysis: If I were a gambling man, I'd say this position is closed out.
Defensive Tackle (2012 Quota: 4-5)
Brian Gaia (MD, 5/9/2011)
Derek Dowrey (VA, 6/25/2011)
Tommy Schutt (IL, 8/10/2011)
1. Who the hell knows?
2. Jamil Pollard (NJ)
3. Faith Ekakitie (IL)
4. Korren Kirven (VA)
Analysis: Pollard was on hand for the Alabama game, and would likely jump right back into the fold if his grades improved, but he might be destined for JUCO or prep. Kirven was also at the Alabama game, but that was at the urging of his father, which isn't a bad thing, but you'd like to hear that the recruits made the choice to visit on their own.
Defensive End (2012 Quota: 0-1)
1. Noah Spence (PA)
2. Noah Spence (PA)
3. Noah Spence (PA)
Analysis: Noah Spence-or-bust. Gateway coach Terry Smith (who has coached and coached against numerous Division 1 products in his nine years at Gateway) said that Spence was "the most explosive defensive lineman he'd ever seen."
Linebacker (2012 Quota: 2-3)
Cam Williams (MA, 3/25/2011)
Nyeem Wartman (PA, 7/9/2011)
Analysis: This position is done for the year. Solid group, but even more special when you consider the fact that Cam Williams has become one of the better recruiters for the staff. Williams will be at the Alabama game, as mentioned. Hopefully he can work some more of that magic that got Wartman and Reeves.
Defensive Back (2012 Quota: 4-6)
Jake Kiley (NH, 7/26/2011)
Armani Reeves (MA, 8/12/2011)
Malik Golden (CT, 8/24/2011)
1. Demetrious Cox (PA) (S)
2. (VA) (S)
3. Bam Bradley (OH) (S)
Analysis: Well, cornerbacks are wrapped up now, thanks to the New England Triumverate. Penn State will now focus its attention on safeties, with Demetrious Cox being the clear leader on the secondary board. Bradley is back on the board after talks between parties slowed. Bradley was at the Alabama game, but didn't look like he was enjoying himself.
Commits to Date: 17
Estimated Class Size: 21-25
Projected Positions Left (in no particular order): RB, WR, DB (1-2), DT, DE, TE