On the eve of the Penn State-Rutgers showdown, we take a look at what we need to know about the state of Penn State recruiting now that the sanctions have officially been lifted. You can take a look at my thoughts about what the sanction reductions mean for recruiting in general, right here, and you can see Bud Elliot's article with my input right here. But it's currently halftime of the St. Peter's Prep-Bergen Catholic game, and I want to get this done before the 3rd quarter so I can watch more of Brandon Wimbush. So let's get to it.
Speaking of Brandon Wimbush...
As I type this, it is halftime between two traditional New Jersey powerhouse football programs, St. Peter's Prep and Bergen Catholic. Bergen Catholic is currently muddled in a rough stretch for the program, but is still better than most. Brandon Wimbush just carved them up for 264 yards on 16/21 passing and four touchdowns, not to mention his 62 yards rushing. Aside from the gaudy stats, Wimbush looked absolutely phenomenal in the process of accumulating them. All of his short passes had zip on them and hit the receivers in stride. He threw two absolutely gorgeous touchdowns to the corners of the end zone by putting the ball in a spot where quite literally only his receiver could get to it. He was forced to look away from his primary target and make the read to find his second option multiple times, and did so brilliantly. He showed off his Russell Wilson-like ability to turn a collapsing pocket into a first down run, and he showed the speed and athleticism on a few read option plays that will lay waste to defenses in his path. Simply put, Penn State is getting a stud. If Wimbush continues to develop as a passer (not that he needs to improve much now), he could continue to rise on rankings boards, just like the next Penn State commit we're going to talk about.
(Since I wrote this, Wimbush threw for another touchdown as he was falling to the ground while being tackled, and ran in a score on a read option play before being taken out of the game. He will finish the night with 343 yards passing and 72 rushing with 5 total touchdowns. Wow.)
Saquon Barkley Makes the Jump
Former Rutgers commit Saquon Barkley has been turning heads for some time now, and it's shown in his steady climb up the recruiting rankings all across the major sites. Most recently, Barkley moved inside the top 100 on 247sports, landing at number 90 overall. That puts him as a 96 ranked player, the number 8 running back in the country, and the new number one player in Pennsylvania. All of this comes on the heels of Barkley's eye opening performance at The Opening, where he was named one of the best running backs in attendance. I've said previously that I think Barkley may have slightly more potential than Andre Robinson, and I still feel that way. He plays a very balanced style, and knows when to use speed over power and vice versa. He knows when to hit the hole and when to bounce outside. He is very much a complete back and could end up being one of the best backs in the class when all is said and done.
More Scholarships? Let's Go Get a Tight End
With the added roster flexibility that James Franklin and the staff now possess, they went out and offered Kittanning, PA native and Pitt commit TE Nick Bowers. Bowers has been a Pitt commit since January, but you never know what could happen with a shiny, new Penn State offer. Bowers was most recently at Penn State in July for a 7 on 7 camp.
It's a Meyer V. Franklin Showdown
Top 247 offensive lineman Matthew Burrell has officially named Ohio State as his leader, although he doesn't sound super confident in that just yet. As we've mentioned before on here, Burrell is slated to take his official visit to Penn State for the weekend of the Ohio State game. He has been one who has been very high on schools following visits, so it will be interesting to see what kind of quotes he throws out after he has taken all of his official visits.
It's Time to Settle This
Four star defensive tackle Tim Settle from Manassas, Virginia has named his top five as of right now, and Penn State sits on top. It has certainly been remarkable to watch the Nittany Lions rise in Settle's recruitment as time has gone on, going from not on the radar at all to the leaders. For his part, Settle needs to have a very strong year academically, and possibly take a class or two in the summer to make sure he is academically eligible to play D1 football next year. If not, a prep school is likely in the cards, which would mean one more year the Nittany Lions would have to fight off other schools for his services. Should Settle commit to the Nittany Lions before Matt Burrell does, it will be quite interesting to see what ripple effects it has on Burrell. It is well known that Adam McLean, Settle, and Burrell are all close.
More Sanctions Quotes
I have a few more quotes from commits to roll out about the sanction reductions.
Jarvis Miller: "I think it's great for PSU football. Floodgates are now open for more recruits to commit and bring PSU back to the top."
Jake Cooper: "I think it's wonderful. I'm very happy for the team and the coaching staff! They have been working their butts off and to be bowl eligible could give Penn State a huge boost! The additional scholarships are huge! This could be awesome for the 2015 class as well as the 2016 and so forth. There are a couple extra guys I know the coaches and commits would love to get so now that they have the ability to take these guys it's very exciting!"
Brandon Wimbush: "I'm glad for the current players as well as the previous players as well as the future players of the program!! It's an awesome time for the historic program and now makes the season 10x more exciting!"
Hey Rutgers, Now's Your Chance
Aside from having the chance to win their inaugural Big Ten game against Penn State tomorrow night, Rutgers will be trying to make a lasting impression on what is an extremely impressive list of recruits who will be on hand for the showdown. The most important names for Penn State fans to know are 2015 recruit and former Penn State target (it's not clear if he is back on the staff's radar now or not) DE Shareef Miller, and a slew of 2016 prospects including five star DT Rashan Gary and five star RB Kareem Walker, four star QB Dwayne Haskins, four star WR Steven Smothers, and four star TE Naseir Upshur. All of these recruits will be there to check out Rutgers, first and foremost. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what they're going to think if Penn State wins and the stadium is half filled with fans donning the blue and white.
That's all I have for you today. Recruiting without sanctions is fun.