All Quiet on the [ENTER DIRECTION HERE] Front. Eight commitments in two months have the Penn State Class of 2013 out to a strong start, but there hasn't been any action in nearly six weeks, so many fans are starting to get antsy. However, keep in mind that it is only late May, and that there are still roughly eight months before ink meets paper meets fax machine on Signing Day 2013.
Offers, Offers Everywhere. While there hasn't been any movement on the commitment front, the staff has been busy extending offers to a number of new targets. Some are stretches, players that will almost certainly never end up at Penn State. But others are to recruits that have strong mutual interest, and could very well end up at Penn State. These players include NJ LB Brandon Bell, OH ATH (recruited as an LB/DB) Marcus Ball, and NJ LB Al-Rasheed Benton. So you can see where the priorities lay, position-wise. To give you an idea of where PSU stands with respect to its peers, 247Sports lists 73 offers from Penn State in the Class of '13, while Michigan (114) and Ohio State (109) have many more offers out.
Dorian, Robert, n'at. The most highly touted players in the western half of our great commonwealth are still uncommitted, but at least one should be ending soon. Dorian Johnson, a five-star OL from Belle Vernon, is reportedly down to Pitt and Penn State (though a couple others remain in the mix, including Ohio State). Staying close to home appears to be a major driver for Johnson, and while all three schools named are within three hours, being just 45 minutes from Pitt is very enticing. Add in some former Wisconsin coaches, and the Panthers will be tough to beat.
Robert Foster continues to be relatively quiet on the recruiting front, but I'm going to continue to believe that he won't end up at Penn State, for a variety of reasons. Pitt, Ohio State, and Alabama appear to be at or near the top of the five-star wide receiver's list, and despite some positive reactions from Foster about Penn State, I just don't see it happening.
Scholarship Count. There has been a lot of rumor and speculation (and then reprinting that rumor and speculation as fact by an unnamed established newspaper journalist who became EIC at an online news source) about some of the current Nittany Lions. As of right now, the official scholarship total (including the Class of '12 guys, some of whom aren't on campus yet due to graduation) is 83. This includes both Rob Bolden and Curtis Drake, and will continue to do so until we hear official word either way. Among those 83 are 14 players on their last year of eligibility (provided Michael Mauti doesn't apply for is granted a sixth year), leaving a current opening of 16 available scholarships. If and/or when current Nittany Lions are no longer on the team, that number will slowly rise.
Junior Camp. The 2012 Junior Camp at Penn State will be held June 2, at which point some new names should appear on the radar. It will be interesting to see what the staff does with relation to some of the camp kids, and how many offers go out as a result of seeing certain players in action. One guy to keep an eye on is NJ LB Buddy Brown, who is high on PSU, but whom the staff would like to see in person before accepting a commitment.
And Now, For Your Viewing Pleasure.
Kate Upton The Big Board...
Penn State Recruiting Class of 2013 Big Board
Estimated Class Size: 18-22
Current Commitments: 8
1. Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union (VA)) (Committed: 02/29/2012, Recruited by Charles London)
Notes: Should the number of scholarship quarterbacks change in the coming weeks or months, I don't think you'll see another pro-style quarterback, the type of passer best suited for the Bill O'Brien offense, taken in this class. There are a couple of Athlete/Quarterback prospects that Penn State could go after should they decide to take another commitment. Until that becomes an apparent strategy, conventional wisdom says Hackenberg is the man in this class.
As for the Class of 2014 (well, this QB class is nicely wrapped up, so it's never too early to look ahead), Penn State is already targeting some top notch passers. Players like Andrew Ford (Cedar Cliff (PA)), DJ Gillins (Eagle's View (FL)), Chance Stewart (Sturgis (MI)), and DeShone Kizer (Central Catholic (OH)) have already been in contact with the staff, though none have offers as of yet.
Running Backs (1-2)
1. David Williams (Imhotep Charter (PA)
2. Corey Clement (Glassboro (NJ))
3. Richie Anderson (Johnson (MD))
4. Zaire Williams (Timber Creek (NJ))
5. Roman Clay (Lancaster Catholic (PA))
Others: Austin Brown (FB) (Easton Area (PA))
Notes: Another week, another "So, David Williams...what's up man?" theme. Williams continues to take his time with his recruiting, but the PSU staff may be getting slightly impatient. Other big names have PSU offers, but I'll bet a Stanley nickel that Ryan Green (FL) and Derrick Green (VA) end up elsewhere. So it still appears to be David Williams or Bust. But that can only go on for so long.
Wide Receiver (1-3)
1. Robert Foster (Central Valley (PA))
2. Brian Lemelle (Bishop McDevitt (PA))
3. Tyler Boyd (Clairton (PA))
4. Daryl Worley (William Penn Charter (PA))
5. Paul Harris (Frederick Douglass (MD))
Others: William Fuller (Roman Catholic (PA)), Zach Grant (Paul VI (NJ))
Notes: Boyd, like his fellow WPIALian Foster only a bit later in time, has seen his recruitment blow up as of late. He is being recruited on both sides of the ball by different schools, so he could really step in early and help out somewhere. Paul Harris is an interesting recruit, as he appears to be high on PSU, and is from a typically strong recruiting area for PSU, but Southern Cal looks like a team to beat here.
Tight End (0-1)
1. Adam Breneman (Cedar Cliff (PA)) (Committed 03/09/2012, Recruited by the ENTIRE STAFF)
Offensive Line (3-5)
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))
4. Derwin Gray (Friendship Academy (DC))
5. Jaryd Jones-Smith (West Philadelphia Catholic (PA))
Others: Brad Hanson (Monsignor Donovan (NJ)), Tommy Hopkins (Westlake (NY)), Jordan Page (Pennington (NJ)), Dan Samuelson (Plymouth (IN)), Tevin Montgomery (Tabor Academy (MA))
Notes: With two quality prospects on the board, the staff can afford to wait with their offensive line recruiting, and play the game carefully. Johnson is being heavily recruited, but should he pick a school not named PSU, it's simply on to the next big name on the board. As stated in the past, offensive linemen are notoriously hard to predict, so this (as well as the defensive line) is where the staff will likely focus its attention in two weeks when they can get a look at some additional linemen in camp.
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. Donta Wilkins (Potomac (VA))
5. Maurice Hurst, Jr. (Xaverian Brothers (MA))
Others: Tevin Montgomery (Tabor Academy (MA)), Rod Crayton (Dadeville (AL)), Poet Thomas (Detroit Country Day (MI))
Notes: Like the OL, the staff can afford to wait here, if they in fact take another DT. Should someone like Eddie Vanderdoes decide to pick PSU, you find a spot. However, right now it is slow moving out there, as it doesn't seem like the staff is really pressuring any of these other guys or that they are really making a play for any of them.
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)
3. Dajaun Drennon (Timber Creek (NJ))
4. Wyatt Teller (Liberty (VA))
5. Nick Arcidiacono (Archbishop Wood (PA))
Others: Alquadin Muhammed (Don Bosco Prep (NJ))
Notes: Jonathan Allen committed to Alabama in the least unexpected news ever, effectively dashing the moderately unrealistic hopes of some fans. This position is probably closed out, but could see a late addition depending on how the staff progresses elsewhere on the board.
1. Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing (PA))
2. Buddy Brown (Williamstown (NJ))
3. Al-Rasheed Benton (Malcolm X. Shabazz (NJ))
4. Michael Deeb (MLB) (American Heritage (FL))
5. Zayd Issah (Central Dauphin (PA))
Others: Marcus Newby (Quince Orchard (MD)), Jake Plonski (Erie Cathedral Prep (PA)), Brandon Bell (Oakcrest (NJ))
Notes: Some new names on the board, including Benton, whose recruitment many believe is just a matter of time before it ends in favor of the Nittany Lions. Anzalone, back on the board after an admittedly (by Alex) creepy encounter with an Ohio State fan, is taking his time this time around. Florida and Stanford are at the top, and Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State (yes, they're still in it) follow them. As a Pittsburgher, I wouldn't mind seeing Brown, Benton, and Bell (because of the Killer B's, not because of some weird affinity for New Jersey) as three of the commitments. From a talent standpoint, Anzalone and Deeb, playing outside and middle linebacker respectively, would be very nice additions to the class.
Defensive Back (3-4)
1. Ross Douglas (CB) (Avon (OH)) (Committed 02/29/2012, Recruited by Stan Hixon)
2. Nadir Barnwell (CB) (Piscataway (NJ))
3. Delton Williams (S) (Erie Cathedral Prep (PA))
4. Darian Hicks (CB) (Solon (OH))
5. Reon Dawson (S) (Trotwood-Madison (OH))
Others: Kirk Garner (S) (Good Counsel (MD)), Delando Johnson (S) (Calvert Hall College (MD)), Kennedy Frazier (S) (Calvert Hall (MD)), Milan Collins (Bishop McNamara (MD))
Notes: The highest position of need remains at a standstill for the time being. There is mutual interest out there from each of Barnwell, Williams, and Hicks (among others), but things have slowed on defensive back recruiting, for whatever reason. Williams is being pulled strongly to Michigan State by current teammate and Spartan commit Damion Terry.
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