The Opening. Tim from VBR caught up with Christian Hackenberg and Ross Douglas after their performances at the prestigious summer camp last weekend. Hackenberg was streaky according to many observers, killing it one drill/game and then underwhelming the next. Hopefully that was just one off camp. Hackenberg will compete in the Elite 11 finals next week, along with 24 other top high school quarterbacks in the country.
All The Linebackers? ALL THE LINEBACKERS. Since we last spoke, Penn State picked up the commitment of Harrisburg LB Zayd Issah, whose commitment should close out the OLB recruiting for 2013. That leave one spot left (two if the staff misses elsewhere, or takes a hybrid type of player), which will almost certainly go to a MLB prospect. The top prospect appears to be Al-Rasheed Benton, who some believe the staff has cooled on, but could also be that the staff was waiting to hear from Alex Anzalone (who committed to Notre Dame at The Opening).
Final Scholarship Counts. I mentioned this in a comment earlier this week, but here's the official estimation. With Issah's commitment, Penn State now has 14 verbal commitments in the Class of '13. As more players leave the team, either of their own volition or via dismissals, the number of expected Class of 2013 commits slowly rises. Right now, the final number should end up at 22 or 23. For argument's sake, we'll use 22. That leaves 8 open spots, and I believe they'll end up being used as follows:
So you can see where the clear need exists, in the greatly depleted secondary. If you take the low end on each of those, that's only 5 commits. And that's where the staff could look to take "ATH" players, those athletes that can be filled into a number of different spots.
As Always. The Big Board...
Penn State Recruiting Class of 2013 Big Board
Estimated Class Size: 22-24
Current Commitments: 14
1. Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union (VA)) (Committed: 02/29/2012, Recruited by Charles London)
Running Backs (1-2)
1. David Williams (Imhotep Charter (PA))
2. Jamari Smith (Duncan U. Fletcher (FL))
Notes: Some small movement here this week, as a couple names are off the board and a new one appears. Zaire Williams committed to West Virginia on Monday, and Derrick Green removed Penn State's name from his list of potential schools. The two backs that remain, Williams and Smith, are both of a speedy, shifty mold. There may be other backs out there that wind up on this list, especially bigger backs who could end up being the thunder to one of these guys' lightning. For now, there isn't much else on the radar at the moment.
Wide Receiver (1-2)
1. Will Fuller (Roman Catholic (PA)) (Committed 06/05/2012) (Recruited by Ron Vanderlinden)
2. Tyler Boyd (Clairton (PA))
3. Brian Lemelle (Bishop McDevitt (PA))
4. Daryl Worley (William Penn Charter (PA))
5. Paul Harris (Frederick Douglass (MD))
Notes: With Fuller on board, the staff can take its time with this position, should it even choose to take another wide receiver. Depending on what happens with some other positions, the Lions could end up with just Fuller, or could add a Boyd or Lemelle and have a pretty successful WR haul. Harris has been high on USCw for some time (putting them in his final two ($), though I'm not entirely sure he actually has an offer), and many think it's just a matter of time until he ends up a Trojan. As for Boyd, one national analyst thinks the Lions are in the driver's seat.
After watching Boyd and Hackenberg work together, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell went so far as to say, "I think Penn State is probably the team to beat for Tyler Boyd."
"The worst thing in the world for Pitt could have been Tyler Boyd going down there and catching passes from Hackenberg," Farrell said. "They worked together like they had been a pass-catching combination for years. It was an instantaneous connection."
Tight End (0-1)
1. Adam Breneman (Cedar Cliff (PA)) (Committed 03/09/2012, Recruited by the ENTIRE STAFF)
Notes: Done for 2013, but Class of '14 OH TE/LB Michael Ferns is down to a final three of PSU, Michigan, and Notre Dame, with each fanbase claiming a slight edge. Ferns is an early Top100 recruit, according to 247Sports.
Offensive Line (2-3)
1. Brendan Mahon (Randolph (NJ)) (Committed 03/17/2012, Recruited by John Strollo)
2. Andrew Nelson (Hershey (PA)) (Committed 04/15/2012, Recruited by Larry Johnson)
3. Dorian Johnson (Belle Vernon (PA)) (Committed 06/25/2012, Recruited by Charles London)
Defensive Tackle (1-2)
1. Greg Webb (Timber Creek (NJ)) (Committed 04/05/2012, Recruited by Larry Johnson)
2. Justin Moody (George Washington (PA))
3. Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights (OH))
4. Tevin Montgomery (Tabor Academy (MA))
5. Poet Thomas (Detroit Country Day (MI))
Notes: Eddie Vanderdoes committed to USC this week, and with no other major prospects on the radar that PSU might be holding a spot for, it appears as though Webb will be the lone DT taken in the Class of '13.
Defensive End (2-3)
1. Garrett Sickels (Red Bank Regional (NJ) (Committed 03/04/2012, Recruited by Jon Strollo)
2. Curtis Cothran (Council Rock North (PA)) (Committed 03/26/2012, Recruited by John Butler)
Notes: This position is probably closed out, but could see a late addition depending on how the staff progresses elsewhere on the board.
1. Brandon Bell (Oakcrest (NJ)) (Committed 06/13/2012) (Recruited by Ron Vanderlinden)
2. Zach Bradshaw (Damascus (MD)) (Committed 06/27/2012) (Recruited by Larry Johnson)
3. Zayd Issah (Central Dauphin (PA)) (Committed 06/29/2012) (Recruited by Larry Johnson)
4. Al-Rasheed Benton (Malcolm X. Shabazz (NJ))
5. Jonathan Walton (Bayside Academy (AL))
Notes: A lot of movement here from the last time we saw the linebacker board. Alex Anzalone made the call for Notre Dame, along with Michael Deeb. Issah jumped on board with the Lions, sensing a rush on linebacker spots (though I feel his commitment is still solid). And with Issah's commitment, the OLB position is closed out. Likely taking just one more LB in the middle, it looks like Benton and Walton will battle out for the last spot, barring a new name on the scene. While I think Benton is the better prospect, how do you turn away someone that goes to Bayside?
Defensive Back (4-6)
1. Ross Douglas (CB) (Avon (OH)) (Committed 02/29/2012, Recruited by Stan Hixon)
2. Neiko Robinson (S) (Northview (FL)) (Committed 06/03/2012, Recruited by Ted Roof)
3. Nadir Barnwell (CB) (Piscataway (NJ))
4. Darwyn Kelly (S) (Woodson (DC))
5. Daryl Worley (S) (William Penn Charter (PA))
Notes: Since we last visited, Derrick Thomas is no longer a Nittany Lion, and the depth at defensive back hasn't gotten any better. I originally targeted this group at 3-4 commits, but that now seems low. Don't be surprised to see upwards of four more commits. The downside is that the number of DBs with interest in PSU at the moment doesn't seem to be that high. However, there is still an entire senior season to play, and the staff could be waiting to extend offers to some guys until they see more film. As for Barnwell, it doesn't appear he's anywhere close to making a decision.
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