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Penn State Recruiting Roundup (10.22.14)

Our roundup gets a new modern look this week.

If you haven't noticed, I've been all about using mini tables to show information about the recruits. Leave feedback in the comments if you like the use of said tables in this post, or if you liked the original format more. Thanks in advance. Now let's get down to business.

New Rankings

ESPN released their newest edition of the 2015 ESPN 300 this week. ESPN's rankings always look somewhat different than rankings from the big boy recruiting sites like 247Sports, Rivals, and Scout, but they are rankings nonetheless (even if the scouting reports they have on recruits are hilariously outdated). The new top 300 included numerous Penn State-bound high schoolers, as well as some of Penn State's remaining targets. Let's check out where they all fell.


  • #90- Adam McLean (DT)
  • #105- Sterling Jenkins (OT)
  • #107- Ryan Bates (OT)
  • #168- John Reid (CB)
  • #190- Juwan Johnson (WR)
  • #194- Steven Gonzalez (OG)
  • #235- Manny Bowen (LB)
  • #256- Jonathan Holland (DE)
  • #287- Saquon Barkley (RB)
  • #17- Tim Settle (DT)
  • #72- Matthew Burrell (OG)
  • #81- Christian Wilkins (DT)
  • #122- Ricky DeBerry (LB)
  • #130- Garrett Taylor (CB)
  • #229- Pat Allen (OT)
  • #244- Grant Newsome (OT)
  • #270- Darrin Kirkland (LB)
  • #289- Juwuan Briscoe (CB)

Having nine commits in the top 300 (according to ESPN), is a great accomplishment for James Franklin and the staff. Pessimists will look at the rankings and question why Penn State's highest rated commit is #90 overall, but those people are missing the point. Not to mention, should Penn State hit on any of their top targets left, they will take an even greater stake in this list.

Adam McLean- Out for the year

In a truly saddening turn of events, Adam McLean will miss the remainder of his senior season due to an injury. Thankfully, things seem to be going well early on for Adam in his recovery, as his always entertaining twitter account shows.

While we're on the subject, I've had many people asking me about McLean's official visits, and the likelihood of a flip in his commitment. Naturally many people are feeling worried after the Brandon Wimbush situation. That being said, this is very different. McLean has publicly given two main reasons as to why these official visits are taking place. Number one, there's no point in not using chances to visit colleges for free. Number two, he wants to make sure that he has no regrets about picking Penn State, meaning he wants to go and reaffirm to himself how much he loves State College and Penn State. If you still find yourself worried about his feelings for the Nittany Lions, take a deep breath and read these tweets.

New Highlight Tape

Hopefully you had a chance earlier in the week to check out my review of Saquon Barkley's newest senior year Hudl film. If you didn't get a chance to do so, I'll give you a quick preview. He's really, really good.

Barkley wasn't the only one to release new highlight tape, however. Sterling Jenkins put out new tape. Ryan Buchholz showed off his extremely impressive body of work thus far. Ryan Bates also showed impressive potential in his new tape. Finally, Jake Cooper shows why he is a standout for Archbishop Wood.

Breakdowns of the tape on Jenkins, Bates, Cooper, and Buchholz are coming as their own features as well. Look for at least one of them early next week.

Don't Forget About Me

For a while, Andre Robinson (Bishop McDevitt) was considered the "Must Get" of the 2015 class. His recruitment began under the O'Brien staff, and intensified under the Franklin staff. Originally committing on the 27th of February, Robinson has been a Nittany Lion pledge for some time. Unfortunately, he sustained a bone bruise that sidelined him for five games of his senior season. He was finally able to return to action a few weeks ago, and in the two games since his return, Andre has rushed for 422 yards and found the end zone four times. I think it's safe to say that Robinson is set on reminding Penn State fans why they were so excited about landing his commitment.

The Michigan Crew

A group of Michigan commits have been making regular appearances in our recent recruiting talk. Grant Newsome, Darrin Kirkland, Garrett Taylor, and Alex Malzone are all reportedly being recruited by the Nittany Lions as of right now. All four of them either have connections to Penn State or have interest. However, until and unless Brady Hoke loses his job, all four will likely remain Wolverines. Reports are that Newsome and Malzone are two who are working hard to keep the class together as of right now, but Malzone's interest in the Nittany Lions has been documented, and Penn State finished number two on Newsome's list when he committed to Michigan. Garrett Taylor has stated that he will "most likely" take an official visit to Penn State, and Darrin Kirkland has already begun taking visits elsewhere. It's likely that Penn State will at least get a look from Kirkland, as they were his top choice before he was told to look elsewhere thanks to the Josh Barajas commitment. If Hoke does indeed lose his job at some point, look for Penn State to really turn up the heat on all four of these guys.

Who's Ready for a Whiteout?

Finally, the moment that most of you have been waiting for, the list of what recruits will be in Beaver Stadium soaking in the whiteout atmosphere, and hopefully watching Penn State put up a fight against the Buckeyes. If you're looking for a more complete list than the one I'm about to give you, I encourage you to check out who Sean Fitz (of Lions247) has confirmed will be there, as well as who Ryan Snyder (of Blue White Illustrated) has contacted.

First off, here are the commits that will be in attendance.

  • Adam McLean (2015 DT) 
  • Andre Robinson (2015 RB) 
  • Juwan Johnson (2015 WR) 
  • Brandon Polk (2015 WR) 
  • John Reid (2015 CB) 
  • Jon Holland (2015 DE/TE) 
  • Irvin Charles (2015 WR) 
  • Ryan Buchholz (2015 DE) 
  • SaQuon Barkley (2015 RB) 
  • Sterling Jenkins (2015 OT) 
  • Miles Sanders (2016 RB) 

And here are the other names that should be familiar to Penn State fans by now.

  • Tim Settle (2015 DT)  (UPDATE: Cancelled visit)
  • Matthew Burrell (2015 OT) 
  • Juwuan Briscoe (2015 CB) 
  • Ricky DeBerry (2015 LB) 
  • Shareef Miller (2015 DE) 
  • Tommy Stevens (2015 QB) ★★★ (UPDATE: New official visit)
  • Emanuel McGirt (2015 OL) ★★★★ (UPDATE: New visit)
  • Damar Hamlin (2016 CB) 
  • Jauan Williams (2016 OT) 
  • Michael Menet (2016 OL) 
  • Rashan Gary (2016 DT) 
  • Trevon Diggs (2016 WR) 
There are plenty of others who will be on hand, and I implore you to check out the full lists from Sean and Ryan above, but these are the names that you all should be most concerned with right now. That is, if you've picked your jaws up off of the floor and stopped drooling yet.

Penn State Recruiting Class of 2015 Big Board

Estimated Class Size: 23-25

Current Commitments: 18

Name Rating Style High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Demry Croft ★★★ Dual-Threat Boylan Central Catholic (IL) 6'5"/187 Committed to Minnesota (6/30/14) Hudl
Alex Malzone ★★★★ Pro-Style Brother Rice (MI) 6'1.5"/200 Committed to Michigan (5/12/14)


Tommy Stevens ★★★ Dual-Threat Decatur Central (IN) 6'4"/200 Committed to Indiana(6/2/14) Hudl

Notes: Penn State's quarterback recruiting has reached an interesting point. With the flip of Brandon Wimbush to Notre Dame so late in the cycle (for the elite QB's that is), the staff isn't in a very desirable position to grab a signal caller for the 2015 class. Malzone has reportedly said that he would be interested upon visiting for a game, so once that happens, expect rumors of a flip to start spreading like wildfire. Of course, should Michigan go on a tear and Hoke keep his job, Malzone is likely to stay. Croft has been quiet since telling 247Sports that Penn State asked for his official transcripts. The big surprise was an announcement that Indiana commit Tommy Stevens will be visiting this weekend, and picked up an offer from Penn State. We had a great interview with Tommy a couple of weeks ago.

**Update on Stevens. I spoke with Stevens today. He told me that although he is still committed to Indiana, he is very excited for his Penn State visit. It was his father's idea for him to start taking official visits, with the reasoning that there are many more opportunities available for Stevens now than there were at the time of his commitment. He'll be at Penn State from Friday through Sunday, so he will have plenty of time to check everything out. He said that the Indiana coaches aren't happy about the visit, but they understand his side of things. Stevens is still definitely committed to Indiana, which is clear through my interview with him recently, but it certainly seems as if he is thinking about his other options a little more now.

Running Back
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Saquon Barkley ★★★★ Whitehall (PA) 5'11"/190 Committed to Penn State (2/19/14) Hudl
Andre Robinson ★★★★ Bishop McDevitt (PA) 5'9"/205 Committed to Penn State (2/27/14) Hudl

Notes: Penn State is done at running back for the 2015 class.

Wide Receiver
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Juwan Johnson ★★★★ Glassboro (NJ) 6'4"/200 Committed to Penn State (3/16/14) Hudl
Irvin Charles ★★★★ Paul VI (NJ) 6'4"/212 Committed to Penn State (7/19/14) Hudl
Brandon Polk ★★★★ Briar Woods (VA) 5'9"/152 Committed to Penn State (3/25/14) Hudl

Notes: Penn State is done at wide receiver for the 2015 class.

Tight End
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Nick Bowers ★★★ Kittanning (PA) 6'4"/225 Committed to Pittsburgh (1/27/14) Hudl

Notes: Bowers will likely visit Penn State at some point this season, but will likely not make any decisions about his commitment until after his high school season is over. As of now, he remains a firm Pittsburgh commitment, but there seems to be some optimism that Penn State can flip him. It would certainly help to have another tight end on the roster, with Mike Gesicki set to only be at Penn State for four years.

Offensive Line
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Ryan Bates ★★★★ Archbishop Wood (PA) 6'5"/280 Committed to Penn State (2/15/14) Hudl
Steven Gonzalez ★★★★ Union City (NJ) 6'3"/300 Committed to Penn State (3/29/14) Hudl
Sterling Jenkins ★★★★ Baldwin (PA) 6'8"/305 Committed to Penn State (5/6/14) Hudl
Matthew Burrell ★★★★ C.D. Hylton (VA) 6'5"/302 Top 3: Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida State ($), visiting PSU (10/25) Hudl
Emanuel McGirt ★★★★ Hillside (NC) 6'6"/275 Planning Official Visits ($), visiting PSU (10/25) Hudl
Grant Newsome ★★★★ The Lawrenceville School (VA) 6'6"/290 Committed to Michigan (6/11/14) Hudl
Patrick Allen ★★★★ Franklin (MD) 6'5"/286 Committed to Georgia (8/4/14) Hudl

Notes: Ah, Matthew Burrell. The man who is so difficult to read finally made a somewhat definitive statement about his top three schools. This declaration from Burrell was made last week though, and the track record of his recruitment would suggest that he may have changed his mind again already. He will be one of the many high profile visitors watching the Nittany Lions take on the Buckeyes this weekend, so expect to hear Burrell saying lots of positives about Penn State early next week. McGirt and Allen are two who recently picked up Penn State offers, but are also two who will not realistically have a chance to end up Nittany Lions until they make their way to campus. Both are trying to set up said visits at this point, so we'll know more sooner rather than later.

Defensive Tackle
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Adam McLean ★★★★ Quince Orchard (MD) 6'2"/290 Committed to Penn State (4/12/14) Hudl
Christian Wilkins ★★★★ Suffield Academy (CT) 6'4"/290 Setting Up Official Visits Hudl
Tim Settle ★★★★ Stonewall Jackson (VA) 6'2"/362 Leader: Virginia Tech, visiting PSU (10/25) Hudl

Notes: Penn State is still working to finish up the defensive tackle portion of their 2015 class. It has long been rumored that Christian Wilkins' commitment to Penn State is just a matter of time, although such a commitment is probably still a little ways off from occurring. Tim Settle, who is still working to try and become D1 eligible in time, has named Virginia Tech his leader. The Nittany Lions previously had been named as a top team for Tim, but it seems that as his commitment date (12/20) approaches, it is becoming more clear that he will probably fail to have the grades to enroll at Penn State. Should Settle attend a Junior College, you can be sure Penn State will be following him and waiting to recruit him again. However, Virginia Tech is a very real possibility for Settle as well.

UPDATE: Tim has cancelled his visit to Penn State this weekend, and will be attending the Virginia Tech-Miami game this evening.

Defensive End
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Ryan Buchholz ★★★ Great Valley (PA) 6'6"/240 Committed to Penn State (2/24/14) Hudl
Jonathan Holland ★★★ The Bullis School (MD) 6'4"/240 Committed to Penn State (5/3/14) Hudl
Shareef Miller ★★★ George Washington (PA) 6'5"/220 Visiting Penn State (10/25) Hudl

Notes: Penn State remains in a holding pattern with Shareef Miller. The one time virtual lock to become a Nittany Lion is still being held at bay. However, with Jonathan Holland seeming more and more like he is going to enter college as a tight end instead of a defensive end, Franklin and the staff might decide that taking another defensive end is necessary. Ricky DeBerry also qualifies as a defensive end, but he has stated that his true desire is to stand up at the next level. Therefore, Penn State would be putting themselves at an automatic disadvantage if they asked him to play defensive end. More on this spot soon.

Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Jake Cooper ★★★ Archbishop Wood (PA) 6'1"/220 Committed to Penn State (2/24/14) Hudl
Manny Bowen ★★★★ Barnegat (NJ) 6'2"/206 Committed to Penn State (6/21/14) Hudl
Kamonte Carter ★★★★ Gaithersburg (MD) 6'4"/235 Committed to Penn State (2/15/14) Hudl
Daiquan Kelly ★★★ Union City (NJ) 6'2"/206 Committed to Penn State (9/14/14) Hudl
Ricky DeBerry ★★★★ Atlee (VA) 6'2.5"/240 Visiting Penn State (10/25) Hudl
Darrin Kirkland ★★★★ Lawrence Central (IN) 6'2"/235 Committed to Michigan (5/18/14) Hudl

Notes: All of a sudden, the linebacker board looks very crowded. Jake Cooper, Manny Bowen, and Kamonte Carter remain as the original three linebacker commits (although Carter could also play defensive end), and all three are very committed to the Nittany Lions. Daiquan Kelly is listed here as a linebacker, but really he is most likely going to end up playing the star role. It's also possible he develops into a linebacker-sized safety who plays near the box, somewhat like Kam Chancellor. Ricky DeBerry is the big prize left as far as the future of Linebacker U goes. Penn State has shot up DeBerry's board into his top eight, after previously not even appearing on his top 20. This will be a huge weekend for him, as it will be a chance for him to probably get some face time with the staff, and to see how a fully charged up Beaver Stadium reacts when Nyeem Wartman or Brandon Bell makes a huge tackle. Kirkland is one who will need to visit Penn State again before we can really say the Lions are back in it.

Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
John Reid ★★★★ St. Joseph's (PA) 5'10"/180 Committed to Penn State (8/8/14) Hudl
Garrett Taylor ★★★★ St. Christopher's School (VA) 6'1"/195 Committed to Michigan (3/24/14) Hudl
Juwuan Briscoe ★★★ Thomas Stone (MD) 6'0"/182 Committed to Clemson (5/17/14), visiting PSU (10/25) Hudl
Ugo Amadi ★★★ Overton (TN) 5'10"/182 Committed to Ole Miss (3/21/14) Hudl

Notes: Finally missing from the cornerbacks list is five star Alabama commit, Minkah Fitzpatrick. Whatever slim hope Penn State had of pulling off the improbable flip of Fitzpatrick, died off when his close friend and high school teammate Brandon Wimbush, flipped to Notre Dame. So while it was nice for Penn State fans to imagine Fitzpatrick teaming up with John Reid, it's no longer a feasible possibility. Instead, the Lions will focus all of their attention on currently committed targets. Garrett Taylor is in the process of trying to set up his visit to Penn State, as is Ugo Adami (Amadi was originally expected at the Ohio State game, but plans fell through). Juwuan Briscoe is someone who basically no one in the recruiting world expects to actually sign with Clemson, so Franklin has a good shot here. He will be in Happy Valley for the OSU game, which is about as close to an SEC atmosphere as you can get above the Mason Dixon Line. Look for comments from Briscoe after the game, because they will likely be some of the most informative quotes to come out of the weekend.

Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Jarvis Miller ★★★ Suffield (CT) 6'2"/188 Committed to Penn State (2/15/14) Hudl
Ayron Monroe ★★★ St. John's College (DC) 6'0"/195 Committed to Penn State (5/10/14) Hudl

Notes: With the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Sayreville War Memorial High School and the hazing scandal that its football team is currently engulfed in, Sayreville team captain Myles Hartsfield has had his scholarship offer revoked by the Nittany Lions. It's a shame that there isn't time to let the legal process play out to determine whether of not Myles truly was involved, but it's something Penn State can't afford to stay involved in any longer. The staff doesn't appear to be chasing any other safety targets for 2015.

The Black Shoe Big Board

As a quick reminder, my own personal Big Board is simply a list of the remaining recruits organized by probability of committing to Penn State combined with talent and potential. Sometimes it might be the same as Penn State's true Big Board, but we'll never know if it is because none of us are on the coaching staff.

  1. Christian Wilkins
  2. Ricky DeBerry
  3. Tim Settle
  4. Matthew Burrell
  5. Garrett Taylor
  6. Juwuan Briscoe
  7. Ugo Amadi
  8. Emanuel McGirt
  9. Darrin Kirkland
  10. Grant Newsome
  11. Tommy Stevens (Newly added)
  12. Shareef Miller
  13. Alex Malzone
  14. Demry Croft
  15. Nick Bowers
This list is a bit different than it was last time we had a roundup, thanks to the removal of Minkah Fiztpatrick and Jordan Whitehead, and the addition of quite a few new names. Christian Wilkins tops the list for me, because another stud defensive tackle would the most valuable thing this Penn State class could add right now. While Settle is seen by many as the better prospect, Wilkins' reputation in the classroom as well as his interest in Penn State make him an easy call for my number spot. DeBerry grabs the second spot on the list because he represents a potential star for Linebacker U. Settle comes in at number three, because although it seems like the academics won't work out, he's still an elite talent at a position that Penn State is fantastic at developing. The three cornerback targets come in next, because this class definitely needs another corner to pair with John Reid. The order they're listed represents how I feel about them as prospects. McGirt comes in at number eight with Kirkland at nine, and a slew of targets committed elsewhere plus Shareef Miller round out the list. If any of the names at the bottom make a visit to Penn State soon, they will move up.

Link$ and Other News

  • Sterling Jenkins is excited to get to Penn State, writes Audrey Snyder for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Brandon Polk played a big part in helping Briar Woods to victory.
  • John Reid, who has given some fantastic interviews, goes in depth with Sean Fitz about his decision to commit to Penn State. ($)
  • 2016 Five star defensive tackle Rashan Gary (Scotch Plains, NJ) visited Maryland last weekend, and will be at Penn State this weekend. Ryan Snyder of BWI talked with him about how he feels about the schools. ($)
  • According to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, Penn State recently offered a new 2017 linebacker. ($)
  • Juwan Johnson tells Lions247 that he's happy to be an All-American.
That's all for today. Hopefully you find yourselves in the knowhow for this upcoming weekend and the foreseeable future. Be on the look out for more highlight tape studies, Committany Nations, and maybe even an Oh, Hello or two in the near future.