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Penn State Recruiting Roundup (08.14.14)

It's been quite a while. Let's catch up on Penn State crootin'.

Well hello there. Let me start by apologizing for the lack of recruiting articles, specifically recruiting roundups for the last...well, it's been a pretty long time. Thankfully the rest of the staff has been able to help out when recruiting events have occurred, so make sure to thank them (specifically Matt, Cari, and Dan). Hopefully this roundup will serve as a good catch up for those who find themselves out of it in regards to Penn State recruiting.

Don't Settle for Second Best

Four star defensive tackle Tim Settle (Manassas, VA) recently named which schools will receive four of his five official visits. He named Penn State, Tennessee, Florida State, and UCLA as the four visits he knows he will definitely be taking. This comes after Settle named his top 15 in order in early May. That list was as follows...

  1. Tennessee
  2. Alabama
  3. Clemson
  4. Florida State
  5. Texas
  6. Virginia
  7. Virginia Tech
  8. Penn State
  9. West Virginia
  10. UCLA
  11. North Carolina
  12. NC State
  13. LSU
  14. Oklahoma State
  15. Oklahoma
Making this list (after not being on Settle's radar in his previous top list) was great news for Penn State. Being one of the schools he knows he wants to visit officially, is even better. Certainly Tennessee, UCLA, and Florida State are also big competitors considering they also appeared on both lists. Virginia and Virginia Tech are also likely to be visited by Settle, but he doesn't need to use officials to visit them. Penn State has made huge strides in Settle's recruitment as time has gone on, leading many in the recruiting industry to predict Settle will eventually verbalize his pledge for the Nittany Lions. However, there are worries that Settle may not qualify academically for D1 play right away at this point. It is becoming more of a possibility that Settle will have to attend a prep school before making the jump to D1. That is yet to be seen however. Settle is set to announce his decision on December 20 (that's my girlfriend's birthday, so I'm taking that as a good sign).


By now, most people have heard the news that 5 star cornerback and current Alabama commit Minkah Fitzpatrick visited Penn State this past weekend with high school teammate and Nittany Lion commit, Brandon Wimbush. Before you all explode with optimism, take a deep breath. It's only a visit, and it was one that didn't take much effort on his part to take (lives in NJ, came with a good friend and teammate). He is still committed to Alabama, and Penn State probably still needs to win some games to hold his interest. That being said, this is fantastic news for Lions fans. While it certainly wasn't a big deal for him to make the trip convenience-wise, it is a huge deal that the staff was able to convince him to come by. Considering he hadn't visited the campus since June of last year for a skills camp, it would seem that the staff had plenty to show him/talk to him about. The timing of the visit is also of interest here. While he likely would not have come this weekend if not for Wimbush, the fact that he visited on the heels of John Reid's commitment is interesting. This could signal that Fitzpatrick senses there's not much time for a flip, should a flip occur. He also slipped in this visit before his high school season started, when unofficial visits become very difficult. For now, it's nothing more than good feelings and hope, but it could develop into more. Stay tuned.

Uh Oh: A New Top Five for Adam McLean

This is from a while back. While there has yet to be anything else said about it, it's a little unnerving that a guy who was apparently so committed to Penn State that he shaved "Nittany Lions" and the logo into his hair, would release a new top five. However, the world of recruiting is an ever-changing place. So let's take a look at his list and see who we need to be worried about.

A Top Six for McIlwain

2016 QB Brandon McIlwain (Council Rock North, PA) has officially trimmed his list to six.

While Brandon says they are not in order, the first two names he mentions are the ones that seem to be pushing the hardest for him. The Gamecocks and the Nittany Lions are also the two who lead in McIlwain's Crystal Ball at the moment. For the record, I am one of the people who predicted him to the Nittany Lions, although I am not as sure of that now as I previously was. It's not that I don't think McIlwain is very high on the Nittany Lions, because I know he is. I was speaking with him yesterday and he told me that he talks to Coach Rahne all the time, and that he's very excited to get up here this season for a game with the new staff. However, there is a good chance that there is already a 2016 QB committed to Penn State by the time he is ready to decide. With the number of signal callers already on the Penn State roster, it's very hard to imagine the staff wanting to pick up more than one in this next cycle.

Let's Play Some Catch Up

It's been a while since I've posted one of these, I know. So to make sure we're all on the same page, I'm going to do a quick run down of links to send you to the commitment posts for all the current verbal commits to the 2015 class.

S Jarvis Miller (Suffield, CT) ★★★

ATH Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg, MD) ★★★

OL Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood, PA) ★★★★

RB Saquon Barkley (Whitehall, PA) ★★★★

LB Jake Cooper (Archbishop Wood, PA) ★★★★

DE Ryan Buchholz (Malvern, PA) ★★★

RB Andre Robinson (Bishop McDevitt, PA) ★★★★

WR Juwan Johnson (Glassboro, NJ) ★★★★

WR Brandon Polk (Ashburn VA) ★★★

OL Steven Gonzalez (Union City, NJ) ★★★★

DT Adam McLean (North Bethesda, MD) ★★★★

DE Jonathan Holland (Potomac, MD) ★★★

OT Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, PA) ★★★★

QB Brandon Wimbush (St. Peter's Prep, NJ) ★★★★

DB Ayron Monroe (St. John's College, DC) ★★★

DB Myles Hartsfield (Parlin, NJ) ★★★

LB Manny Bowen (Barnegat, NJ) ★★★

WR Irvin Charles (Haddonfield, NJ) ★★★★

CB John Reid (St. Joseph's, PA) ★★★★

Then we had one commitment and subsequent decommitment.

Oh, Hello: LB Josh Barajas (Merrillville, IN) ★★★★

Oh, Goodbye: LB Josh Barajas

And then we had some 2016 action, including a commitments from one of the top players in Pennsylvania for the 2016 cycle, as well as one of the top players in the entire country.

DE Shane Simmons (DeMatha Catholic, MD) ★★★★

RB Miles Sanders (Woodland Hills, PA) ★★★★

All caught up now? Good. Now let's get to the Big Board.

Penn State Recruiting Class of 2014 Big Board

Estimated Class Size: 23-25

Current Commitments: 19

1. Brandon Wimbush (St. Peter's Prep, NJ) (Committed 5/6/14) ★★★★

Notes: After a brief scare that Wimbush was going to flip to Stanford following his visit and subsequent offer, it seems that he is as firm a commit as there is. Wimbush is a fantastic player, but is also a very respectful one. He has stated repeatedly that he doesn't plan on trying to convince friend and teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick to flip to the Nittany Lions, but will let him make the decision on his own. The staff won't be taking any more quarterbacks in this class.

Running Back
1. Saquon Barkley (Whitehall, PA) (Committed 2/19/14) ★★★★
2. Andre Robinson (Bishop McDevitt, PA) (Committed 2/27/14) ★★★★

Notes: Penn State is surely done at running back for 2015, with Barkley and Robinson. After Thomas, Allen, and Scott in 2014 and Miles Sanders already committed for the 2016 class with others possibly joining him. That being said, Barkley and Robinson are two of the finest running backs in the country, who will challenge for early playing time right away.

Wide Receiver
1. Juwan Johnson (Glassboro, NJ) (Committed 3/16/14) ★★★★
2. Brandon Polk (Ashburn, VA) (Committed 3/25/14) ★★★
3. Irvin Charles (Haddonfield, NJ) (Committed 7/19/14) ★★★★

Notes: With the commitment of Irvin Charles, the Lions are also likely done at the wide receiver spot for the 2015 cycle. Barring an elite talent like George Campbell coming out of absolutely nowhere, Johnson, Polk, and Charles will be the newest receivers with elite potential to become Nittany Lions.

Tight End

Notes: Chris Clark was being recruited briefly by Penn State, but he has since committed to Michigan. There aren't any other tight ends that Penn State is considering for this cycle.

Offensive Line
1. Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood, PA) (Committed 2/15/14) ★★★★
2. Steven Gonzalez (Union City, NJ) (Committed 3/29/14) ★★★★
3. Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, PA) (Committed 5/6/14) ★★★★
4. Matthew Burrell (Woodbridge, VA) (Lead Recruiter: Herb Hand) ★★★★

Notes: Matthew Burrell is the big prize remaining on Penn State's radar in terms of the offensive linemen. He is somewhat difficult to read, seeming to be leaning towards whichever school he has most recently visited. He seems to be trending more towards Florida State at the moment following his July 16 visit, but if you ask his Crystal Ball page, the Buckeyes are still in command. Burrell will be one of the more difficult recruits to pull in, especially because he doesn't seem to have any intentions of ending his recruitment in the near future. One thing that could help persuade Burrell to don the blue and white could be a Tim Settle commitment. It's no secret that Settle, Adam McLean, and Burrell are all very close family friends. They have mentioned multiple times that they are not going to let that fact decide where they will play their D1 football, but that doesn't mean they are against the idea either. Having two of his best friends waiting for him at PSU could push Franklin's squad into the spotlight if Burrell is down to a final two or three.

Defensive Tackle
1. Adam McLean (Gaithersburg, MD) (Committed 4/12/14) ★★★★
2. Tim Settle (Manassas, VA) (Lead Recruiter: Brent Pry) ★★★★
3. Christian Wilkins (Suffield Academy, CT) (Lead Recruiter: Sean Spencer) ★★★★

Notes: If there is any position that is still way up in the air, it's defensive tackle. Tim Settle and Christian Wilkins are both big time talents who are both high four star talents, teetering on the edge of being five stars. But the best part of both of them for Penn State fans, is that they both love Penn State. I already spoke about Setlle to begin this article, so I won't go too much more in depth here. If Penn State just continues pushing for him, he seems like a good bet to join the class of 2015. However, with his academic situation in flux at the moment, the staff can't afford to ONLY pay attention to him in case he does eventually have to attend a prep school or a Junior College. Enter Christian Wilkins. An interview from Wilkins is as rare as an interview from Marshawn Lynch, so it's tough to know much about his recruitment. He recently did an interview with Ryan Bartow of 247Sports which is linked below. I won't give away the interview, but suffice to say that he will be taking his official visits, and Penn State is in a very strong position for the time being.

Defensive End
1. Ryan Buchholz (Malvern, PA) (Committed 2/24/14) ★★★
2. Jonathan Holland (Potomac, MD) (Committed 5/3/14) ★★★
3. Shareef MIller (Frankford High School, PA) (Lead Recruiter: Josh Gattis) ★★★

Notes: Listing Miller on here is a bit of a stretch. The staff hasn't really indicated that they are very interested in taking another defense end at this point in the process. Miller was initially a lock to become a Nittany Lion, but the commitment of Holland combined with the fact that Kamonte Carter has the versatility to play on the edge has pretty much filled any need for defensive end in this class. The original concerns in Miller's recruitment were his academics, which have thankfully for him, seemed to have realigned themselves. Even with an improvement in that regard however, it would be surprising to see the Nittany Lions take Miller at this point. If one of Holland or Buchholz decommits (not going to happen), then Miller will probably be the first to get a call. But for his own sake, it would appear that Miller is better off looking elsewhere. Rutgers is the other team to hold a Crystal Ball pick for Miller, but said pick was made in June of last summer, so it doesn't mean much.

1. Jake Cooper (Archbishop Wood, PA) (Committed 2/24/14) ★★★★
2. Manny Bowen (Barnegat, NJ) (Committed 6/21/14) ★★★
3. Kamonte Carter (Gaithersburg, MD) (Committed 2/15/14) ★★★
4. Ricky DeBerry (Richmond, VA) (Lead Recruiter: Sean Spencer) ★★★★

Notes: DeBerry has an absurd offer list, and can truly pick from almost any elite school in the country to play his college ball. On August 4th, he named a new top eight.

Some of you probably remember that when DeBerry originally named his top 20, he left Penn State off of that list. Due to the fact that he didn't really know the new coaching staff yet, that was unsurprising. To see how drastically Penn State has jumped back into the picture however, is quite something. Temper expectations, because DeBerry has other schools that he is very high on as well. It is quite an accomplishment for Franklin and his staff to even be back in his top teams though, and a visit for a game this fall should be expected. And we all know what happens when Franklin gets a kid on campus...

1. John Reid (St. Joseph's, PA) (Committed 8/8/14) ★★★★
2. Jordan Whitehead (Central Valley, PA) (Lead Recruiter: Bob Shoop) ★★★★
3. Micah Abernathy (Norcross, GA) (Lead Recruiter: Terry Smith) ★★★★
4. Minkah Fitzpatrick (St. Peter's Prep, NJ) (Lead Recruiter: Josh Gattis) ★★★★★

Notes: The cornerback spot is where Penn State would like to make the most noise to fill out the rest of the 2015 class. Jordan Whitehead has long been a Penn State target, as he and new commit John Reid were arguably the two most important pieces of the puzzle on the defensive side of the ball for #DominateTheState. Whitehead's recruitment has been, and will continue to be a battle to the death with Ohio State. If you visit his Crystal Ball page, you will see that many people believe Ohio State holds a slight edge in this fight. However, it has been reported several times that Jordan's parents are higher on Franklin and Penn State than Meyer and Ohio State. Obviously it's his decision in the end, but parents are not to be ignored in the recruiting process. Two things that definitely works in Penn State's favor though, are the lack of spots available in the class and the tale of Minkah Fitzpatrick. If Whitehead really does like Penn State, and he thinks he's in jeopardy of losing his spot, it may push him to committing earlier than his set date of October 3rd. Should he do that, it will likely be because he has his sights set on the Nittany Lions. Abernathy is another name to keep an eye on, following the naming of his top five (PSU, Georgia, OSU, Oregon, Tennessee). He apparently doesn't have a leader, so if Penn State gets him on campus for an official visit, anything could happen. As far as Fitzpatrick, I already expanded enough on his situation. Penn State fans should be cautiously optimistic, but should not assume anything.

1. Jarvis Miller (Suffield, CT) (Committed 2/15/14) ★★★
2. Aryon Monroe (St. John's College, DC) (Committed 5/10/14) ★★★
3. Myles Hartsfield (Parlin, NJ) (Committed 6/8/14) ★★★

Notes: Penn State is surely done with safeties for this class, and all three of the committed ones have very nice potential for the Nittany Lions.

The Black Shoe Big Board

(This is what I'm going to call my own personal big board from now on)

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, sometimes it won't be.

  1. Christian Wilkins
  2. Jordan Whitehead
  3. Tim Settle
  4. Minkah Fitzpatrick
  5. Ricky DeBerry
  6. Matthew Burrell
  7. Micah Abernathy
  8. Shareef Miller
This was a tough list to make. I think Wilkins is the most important remaining prospect on the board for the Nittany Lions, because he is not only one of the most talented defensive tackles in the country, but is also one who is highly interested in Penn State. Jordan Whitehead is the same way, and I considered putting him at number one instead. It's no secret that Penn State needs to continue to recruit elite defensive backs, because the secondary won't have much depth once Jordan Lucas, Adrian Amos, and Trevor Williams depart from the program. Tim Settle is the 1A defensive tackle target to Wilkins' 1. Settle might be more talented as well, but his academic situation puts him a little lower on the list. Fitzpatrick, despite the long road ahead to even think about earning a verbal commitment, has so much talent and potential that his spot this high on the list is justified. DeBerry is another elite talent that is a take for the Lions no matter what, but like Fitzpatrick, will require a lot of time and energy. Burrell seems to be trending to schools down south, making it tough to put him much higher on this list. While the Lions could surely use another tackle prospect, having three linemen already committed makes it easier to absorb losing Burrell to another program.

Link$ and Other News

  • Adam Friedman of Rivals did a big run down of Mid-Atlantic prospects, including Minkah Fitzpatrick and Brandon McIlwain.
  • The Tennessee 247Sports site had an update on Micah Abernathy's recruitment.
  • Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports had a big Penn State update, focusing on Fitzpatrick and Wilkins. Then he had another one!
  • Bleacher Report had a nice article on James Franklin's recruiting success (as seen in Thursday's Success with Hyperlinking).
  • Ryan Snyder of BlueWhite Illustrated conducted an interview with five star 2016 commit, Shane Simmons.
  • According to Sean Fitz, Penn State will play host to a trio of New Jersey recruits this weekend.
  • One of Penn State's top 2016 QB recruits, Jake Zembiec, will be at Penn State from Thursday-Friday. I could be mistaken, but I think I hear some sirens in the distance.
Now that I've filled your lives with 3,178 more words (and counting), you should know everything you (currently) need to know about the state of Penn State recruiting. You're welcome.