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Penn State Recruiting Roundup (12.1.14): New Commits, New Interests, and A Look Ahead

As we head into the final month of 2014, let's get caught up on the 2015 recruiting class.

Sirens, Sirens, Sirens

While it was certainly a disappointing final home performance for the senior class and the rest of the Penn State football team, that doesn't mean the weekend was a complete loss. On Saturday, just before game time, Penn State received a commitment from 2016 4 star QB Jake Zembiec (Rochester, NY). Zembiec is the #1 rated player in New York for the 2016 cycle, and seems to be a very good fit for Franklin and Donovan's offense.

But that wasn't all for this Thanksgiving weekend! On Sunday, after finishing up his official visit with the Nittany Lions, former Michigan commit, 4 star CB Garrett Taylor, verbally committed to Penn State. Taylor's commitment not only puts Penn State back into the 247Composite Top 10, but he becomes Penn State's highest rated recruit. Taylor had narrowed his choices down to LSU and PSU following his LSU visit, and was favored to become a Tiger by many. As we've seen before though, a visit to Happy Valley can be a powerful thing, and Taylor clearly felt the love from the staff and the commits. Sterling Jenkins told me that all of the commits at the game were doing their best to actively recruit the trio of official visitors, Taylor, Christian Wilkins, and Paris Palmer.

Caleb Bright

Caleb Bright is a currently unranked 2016 offensive lineman from the state of Iowa. He was a visitor this weekend for Penn State's matchup with Michigan State. He is also an avid reader of Black Shoe Diaries! But what has made Bright twitter-famous in the Penn State internet world the last few days though, is this-

It's not a huge thing to send a quick thank you message to a coach on twitter, but it speaks volumes to the type of character Bright has. I got a chance to talk with him a bit on Sunday, and he told me that he loved the game day atmosphere and the fact that he finally got to meet Coach Hand in person. He was told by the coaches that he'll be invited back for a Junior Day in the future.

Bright has already visited Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa State, although is yet to hold an offer (he will return to PSU, Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana for Junior Days). He did say though, that the first school to offer will have an advantage in the end. He also said that he hears from Penn State, Iowa, Iowa State, Western Michigan, Western Illinois, and Florida Atlantic weekly.

Most importantly for Penn State fans, he told me that Penn State is his dream school. He is working hard to improve the areas that he knows he needs to improve in, such as overall speed and foot movement, but he is well on his way to earning an offer.

Qua'd Cheatham

Another under the radar visitor from this weekend was Qua'd Cheatham. Cheatham is a currently unranked CB/WR from Newark, NJ. He doesn't hold any D1 offers yet, but has interest from Penn State, West Virginia, Temple, and Rutgers. I spoke with Qua'd about the game, and he said that the atmosphere was crazy, even for a minimized crowd.

Cheatham missed most of his senior season due to injury, but still was able to make an impact with 5 interceptions (he had 7 his junior year), as well as 410 receiving yards and four touchdowns. As of right now, Cheatham is in the process of setting up a visit to Virginia, but wants to come back to Penn State as soon as possible. He is yet another example of someone who has Penn State as a dream school, and could very well end up becoming a preferred walk-on. He will most likely continue to be recruited as a corner. He told me that he views his ability to read the offense as his strongest skill on the field, which is partially why he is at his best in zone coverage. You can check out Qua'd's Hudl film, here.

A Quick Look at 2016

I want to get to the Big Board, so this will be quick. But just to get a feel for the 2016 class and what it could end up looking like, here is the list of guys who Penn State is focusing on and who have reciprocated that interest, along with their national composite rank.

  • DT Rashan Gary (#3)
  • DE Rahshaun Smith (#45)
  • OT Michal Menet (#64)
  • OT Jauan Williams (#65)
  • QB Brandon McIlwain (#148) 
  • TE Cary Angeline (#217)
  • LB Keandre Jones (#246)
  • QB Dwayne Haskins (#52) 
  • LB Brendan Ferns (#62)
  • WR Trevon Diggs (#86)
  • CM Damar Hamlin (#125)
  • DT Ellison Jordan (#159)
  • OG Parker Boudreaux (#225)
  • OT JP Urquidez (#230)
  • CB Patrice Rene (#282)
  • DE Terrell Hall (#313)

2016 could be something really, really special.

Penn State Recruiting Class of 2015 Big Board

Estimated Class Size: 23-25

Current Commitments: 19

Name Rating Style High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Tommy Stevens ★★★ Dual-Threat Decatur Central (IN) 6'4"/200 Committed to Penn State (11/10/14) Hudl

Notes: With the commitment of Tommy Stevens, Penn State is done with quarterbacks for the 2015 class.

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
Jonathan Holland ★★★ The Bullis School (MD) 6'4"/240 Committed to Penn State (5/3/14) Hudl
Nick Bowers ★★★ Kittanning (PA) 6'4"/225 Committed to Pittsburgh (1/27/14) Hudl

Notes: Bowers was in State College for this past weekend's PSU-MSU game. As of right now, there is no reason to think that he isn't still considering Penn State, but still seems set to give it some time before making a decision. Wait for official visits to both State College and Pittsburgh (this weekend was an unofficial visit) to hear any concrete news on Nick.

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
Grant Newsome ★★★★ The Lawrenceville School (VA) 6'6"/290 Committed to Michigan (6/11/14) Hudl
Paris Palmer ★★★★ Lackawanna C.C. (PA) 6'8"/305 Committed to South Carolina (3/23/14), visited PSU (11/29) Hudl

Notes: This edition of the offensive line board is a bit smaller than last time. That would be thanks to Matthew Burrell's commitment to Ohio State, and Emanuel McGirt's commitment to NC State. Burrell's commitment hurt, especially when it was reported that he was primed and ready to commit to Penn State following his visit. Maybe that means the commitment wouldn't have lasted, but we'll never know now. So instead, Penn State turns it's attention to two commits currently committed elsewhere. Newsome remains in a holding pattern until (if?) a new head coach is named at Michigan. To this point, Brady Hoke is still in charge. The big names that Michigan will be considering though, will be sure to draw in some big recruits in a similar manner to how Franklin drew in big names like Saeed Blacknall and Koa Farmer when he took over at Penn State.

Palmer is a Junior College guy who has been committed to South Carolina for a while. I asked Sterling Jenkins, who was at the game this weekend, about Palmer. He said that he wasn't sure where Penn State stood, but that he definitely enjoyed himself and likes the Nittany Lions. It doesn't look as if it will turn into anything at this point, but it's still too early to say.

Defensive Tackle
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Christian Wilkins ★★★★ Suffield Academy (CT) 6'4"/290 Visited Penn State (11/29) ($) Hudl
Tim Settle ★★★★ Stonewall Jackson (VA) 6'2"/362 Leader: Virginia Tech Hudl
Austrian Robinson ★★★ Trinity-Pawling School (NY) 6'6"/255 Visited Penn State (11/18) Hudl

Notes: Ouch. Losing Adam McLean due to academic reasons really hurts this 2015 Penn State class. At this point, it's hard to imagine a scenario where he is able to get his academics in line in time to make it to State College, so the staff needs new options. Christian Wilkins is still very much in play, and visited this past weekend. I was told by Sterling Jenkins that he seemed really comfortable there, and that he wasn't thrown off by the loss. He also added in that he thinks Wilkins will end up a Nittany Lion. As has been the case throughout his recruitment, it is unknown when Wilkins will commit.

I haven't talked to Robinson about his visit yet, but I spoke to him last week to get a feel for what he was looking for, so you can go back and check that out. Robinson was the first guy to receive an offer in the wake of McLean's decommitment, and the staff likes him quite a bit. He could be the next one to pull the trigger for the Nittany Lions.

I don't have much to add on Settle. He is certainly trending in the wrong direction, though.

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
Shareef Miller ★★★ George Washington (PA) 6'5"/220 Visiting Penn State (10/25) Hudl

Notes: Shareef Miller becomes a more important target for Penn State, with Jonathan Holland announcing that he will play tight end for the Nittany Lions instead of defensive end. He is still heavily favored to become a Nittany Lion, but is taking plenty of official visits. He will be taking those visits to Pittsburgh, Arizona, Miami, and Michigan State. It would take a phenomenal visit elsewhere at this point to draw Miller further away from home than State College, but crazier things have happened. Expect the staff to push to get him back on campus once more before his decision.

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 Visited Alabama (11/29) Hudl

Notes: Nothing new to add here. DeBerry appears to be the only linebacker left that Penn State is seriously pursuing. Things don't look very good for the Nittany Lions, though. DeBerry was scheduled to be on campus for the Whiteout game against Ohio State, but did not end up making the trip. Since then, not much, if anything, has been heard from DeBerry about Penn State. Franklin and the staff remain in the picture, but it would take something truly remarkable to earn Ricky's commitment now, and it would be near impossible for it to happen without a visit.

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 Penn State (11/30/14) Hudl
Juwuan Briscoe ★★★ Thomas Stone (MD) 6'0"/182 Committed to Clemson (5/17/14) Hudl
Ugo Amadi ★★★ Overton (TN) 5'10"/182 Committed to Ole Miss (3/21/14) Hudl

Notes: Garrett Taylor's commitment is huge for this class. He pairs with John Reid to form one of the premier cornerback commit duos in the country for 2015, and becomes Penn State's highest rated commit. It also sure doesn't hurt to take such a talent away from Big Ten foe, Michigan. Briscoe and Amadi appear to be extremely unlikely at this point, as Briscoe is apparently only considering Ohio State should be waiver from his Clemson commitment.

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
John Petrishen ★★★ Central Catholic (PA) 6'2"/197 Visited Penn State (11/29) ($) Hudl

Notes: John Petrishen just recently jumped onto Penn State's radar. He visited State College this past weekend for Michigan State, and the Nittany Lions have been picking up his recruitment lately. He holds offers from over 30 programs, including Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. I'm working to get in contact with and learn more about Petrishen as I type.

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. Shareef Miller
  4. Tim Settle
  5. Austrian Robinson
  6. Nick Bowers
  7. John Petrishen
  8. Grant Newsome
The top of the list remains the same. In fact, if I could move Wilkins to a spot higher than number one, I would. With the decommitment of Adam McLean, picking up an elite defensive tackle in this class becomes a must-do for the staff. Wilkins is still highly interested in Penn State, and would be the highest rated recruit in the class. Simply put, the staff needs to him for this class. DeBerry remains a long shot, but holds his number two spot simply due to his immense talent. Shareef Miller makes a big jump up the list with Holland's switch to tight end. Settle hangs around at number four, with the chance that Penn State still sticks around. Austrian Robinson joins the list and moves up quickly, due to Penn State's need for defensive tackles. Bowers will stay towards the bottom until he starts making decisions, but the positional switch of Jon Holland also will allow the staff to be okay should Bowers remain a Panther. Petrishen slots in just ahead of Newsome, due to the uncertain nature of Newsome's pledge to Michigan.

Link$ and Other News

May you go in recruiting peace. Praise be.