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Penn State Recruiting Roundup (05.20.15)

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The glorious return of the Recruiting Roundup.

A Quick (Re)Introduction to the BSD Recruiting Roundup

First, allow me to apologize for the infrequency with which these have been posted for the better part of the last year. As you can probably guess, these take a pretty good amount of time to write, especially when I truly do try to bring you new information each week. One of the reasons I started reading BSD was for this post specifically, so if you're annoyed with me for not doing it in a while-I get it. It's not that I have been purposely avoiding it, or ignoring it just to spite all of you, I honestly just haven't had the time. As most of you probably know, I graduated from PSU this past summer, so the last however many months since then have been more about getting my personal and professional life all in order, now that I'm out of the bubble that is Happy Valley and in the real world. With teaching and coaching to consider, I can't promise that these will continue to be the bi-weekly feature that they once were, but with things finally starting to slow down, I will do my best. The one thing that I can't bring myself to do, is to lower the quality of the work simply to produce them at a greater volume. Thank you for understanding.

For those of you that are newer readers to BSD, you might not even know what this post is. So let's do a quick introduction. Welcome to the recruiting roundup. Each edition of this post, we go over the big stories in recruiting for the week/past two weeks, before heading into the famous Big Board. The Big Board includes a rundown of each position, mentioning the current verbal commits, as well as the targets still on the board and their status. We will also include a map of all the targets, as well as a quick recruiting mailbag. It's a long read, so I suggest turning on some music. Enjoy.

The ESPN 300

The ESPN 300 rankings were released recently, and plenty of Penn State commits and targets are a part of it. First, the commits.

#12: WDE Shane Simmons (DeMatha, MD)- 90 Rating Overall,

#67: RB Miles Sanders (Woodland Hills, PA)- 84 Rating Overall,

#117: CB Zechariah McPhearson (Riverdale Baptist, MD)- 83 Rating Overall,

#262: CB Lavert Hill (Martin Luther King, MI)- 80 Rating Overall,

#273: C Connor McGovern (Lake-Lehman, PA)- 80 Rating Overall,

That's five of Penn State's eight commits on that list. For the sake of comparison, the 2015 class had nine of its members in the ESPN 300, with Sterling Jenkins being the most highly ranked of the group, at #125.

Penn State also has a number of other kids they're targeting that made the cut, led by the #1 ranked player in the country, DT Rashan Gary.

#1: DT Rashan Gary (Paramus Catholic, NJ)- 94 Overall Rating,

#51: OL Michal Menet (Exeter Township, PA)- 85 Overall Rating, ★★★★

#60: OT Jauan Williams (Archbishop Carrol, DC)- 84 Overall Rating,

#73: DE Ron Johnson (Camden, NJ)- 84 Overall Rating,

#87: DE Karamo Dioubate (Prep Charter, PA)- 83 Overall Rating,

#114: WR Trevon Diggs (The Avalon School, MD)- 83 Overall Rating,

#120: CB Damar Hamlin (Central Catholic, PA)- 83 Overall Rating,

#130: DT Ellison Jordan (Gilman School, MD)- 83 Overall Rating,

#131: LB Brendan Ferns (Saint Clairsville, OH)- 82 Overall Rating,

#137: ATH Jordan Fuller (Old Tappan, NJ)- 82 Overall Rating,

#146: TE Luke Farrell (Perry, OH)- 82 Overall Rating,

#151: TE Naseir Upshur (Imhotep Charter, PA)- 82 Overall Rating,

#171: DE Josh King (Hinsdale South, IN)- 82 Overall Rating,

#176: WR Tre Nixon (Viera, FL)-  82 Overall Rating,

#192: OG Terrance Davis (DeMatha, MD)- 82 Overall Rating,

#226: TE Cary Angeline (Downingtown East, PA)- 81 Overall Rating,

#227: WR Steven Smothers (Reisterstown, MD)- 81 Overall Rating, ★★★★

#231: OT Parker Boudreaux (Bishop Moore, FL)- 81 Overall Rating, ★★★★

Wow.

A Quinn Nordin Update

Some of you may recall my interview with Quinn Nordin, the #1 kicker/punter in the 2016 class, from about two months ago. At the time, he told me that Iowa and Penn State were his top two schools, and that he wanted to wait about a month before deciding. Since then, his recruitment has truly taken off. Not only was he given a three star rating on 247 (relatively rare for a kicker), but he picked up offers from both Michigan and Arizona State. Although he previously told me that Michigan wasn't really under his consideration due to the kickers they already have in their system, the Wolverines are offering something that no school outside of them and Delaware is offering so far-the chance to play lacrosse and football.

For those of you who don't know, Nordin's initial college plans were to play lacrosse, before football really took off. So although football is his focus at this point, having the chance to play both sports is a big deal to him. That being said, he made a return visit to Penn State this past weekend, and gave me a rave review. For starters, it was the first visit his sister accompanied him on, which is a big deal for Quinn and his family. He also got to spend some time with the current commits for the 2016 class, and loved them. He told me that he could definitely see himself fitting in with them. He loved the entire experience of the weekend, everything from the players to the coaches to the fans. He also told me that out of any coach at any school, his favorite to talk to throughout the entire process (since before his junior season) has been Coach Huff.

Nordin is still planning on taking his time a bit, and wants to visit each of his top schools again (Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Arizona State, Penn State), and said he thinks he'll be ready to make a decision relatively soon after he accomplishes all of that. I changed my Crystal Ball for Quinn to Michigan a few weeks back after finding out they offered him in both sports, but I've changed my mind a bit after my conversation with Quinn. I think Penn State will be in this until the very end, with one of their biggest advantages being that they have no scholarship kickers on the roster.

Why spend three paragraphs talking about a kicker?  Because this is the Big Ten, that's why.

Where are the Commits?

One of the most common questions I've been asked so far in this 2016 recruiting cycle, is why is Penn State so far behind last year's commitment pace, and is it a bad thing? The quick and easy answer is that they are doing just fine, and everyone needs to calm down. But if it will help ease your troubled mind, I'll delve into this a little more.

Yes, Penn State is behind where they were last year in terms of the literal number of recruits. On this date last year, Penn State held verbal commitments from ten players. Five of those commits were Pennsylvania guys who were never going to go anywhere else, though, which accounts for part of the discrepancy. Out of this year's Pennsylvania targets, only Miles Sanders and Connor McGovern were the guys in the top ten that it was tough imagining in another uniform. The rest of the Pennsylvania top ten have/had some sort of Penn State interest, but they're not the virtual locks that the 2015 guys were. For reference, the rest of the 2016 Pennsylvania top ten is Michal Menet, Naseir Upshur, Damar Hamlin, Karamo Dioubate, Brandon McIlwain, Cary Angeline, Kaezon Pugh and Aaron Matthews.

Another part of the slower process this year, is that Penn State recruiting some extremely high-level talent in the 2016, even more sought-after than the 2015 class. Those guys typically like to take a bit longer to verbally commit. While the Nittany Lions won't hit on all of those big time targets (no one ever does), they should be able to grab one or two of them, and they already have one in tow with Shane Simmons. It will be worth the wait, Nittany Lion fans.

So don't stress out about the lack of commitments, especially when the eight committed players have Penn State comfortably inside of the top 20 recruiting classes in the country. (This was a little more relevant when I wrote it, before the commitments from Dalton and Gellerstedt. Still worthwhile to recognize, though.)

* * *

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for. Welcome back to the Big Board.

Penn State Recruiting Class of 2016 Big Board

Estimated Class Size: 23-25

Current Commitments: 8

Quarterback
Name Rating Style High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Jake Zembiec ★★★ Pro-Style Aquinas Institute (NY) 6'2.5"/205 Committed to Penn State (11/29/14) Hudl

Notes: The original plan for the 2016 class was to take two quarterbacks. However, their other targets aside from Zembiec have chosen other options. Pennsylvania product Brandon McIlwain committed to South Carolina. Messiah deWeaver (who was originally committed to Michigan) committed to Michigan State. Dwayne Haskins recently committed to Maryland. With the praise that we've heard the coaches giving both Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens though, it's perfectly possible that the staff will be okay with only taking Zembiec in this class. As of right now, there are no other realistic targets that have made themselves known.


Running Back
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Miles Sanders ★★★★ Woodland Hills (PA) 5'10/195 Committed to Penn State (7/19/14) Hudl

Notes: After taking three running backs in the 2014 class and two more in the 2015 class, there isn't any need for the staff to go out and bring in multiple ball carriers in 2016. Especially when they have one of Sanders' quality already committed. He's currently ranked as the fourth best running back in the country, but with the hype he has, don't be surprised to see him jump up to number two or three by the time he signs. There was a brief scare a few weeks ago regarding Sanders' commitment to the Nittany Lions, but he cleared it up with one powerful tweet.


Wide Receiver
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Trevon Diggs ★★★★ The Avalon School (MD) 6'0"/183 Leader: Alabama/Top 12: Alabama, LSU, UF, PSU, Tennessee, Miami, Clemson, Auburn, UNC, RU, VT, UMD Hudl
Steven Smothers ★★★★ Franklin (MD) 5'10"/152 Top Three (In order): West Virginia, Rutgers, Penn State Hudl
Tre Nixon ★★★★ Viera (FL) 6'1"/165 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: Similar to the running back spot, Penn State has gone bonkers with its wide receiver recruiting in the past few seasons, so the staff can afford to really focus on their key guys in 2016 instead of casting a wide net. Trevon Diggs has been a focus for the staff for some time now, and has been one of the most frequent visitors in the 2016 class. That being said, he named the Crimson Tide his leader following his visit it Tuscaloosa, and it will be difficult to pull him from that path now. He is also reportedly very interested in playing with Dwayne Haskins in college, who is currently committed to the Terps. Alabama is still on top here, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Diggs join his friend at his older brother's alma mater and hometown school, Maryland. Either way, it will take a big season on the field from the Nittany Lions to help persuade Diggs to join the class.

Such a performance will do wonders when it comes to Steven Smothers, as well. Smothers once told me that he liked Penn State a lot, but wanted to see them playing in a big time bowl game before giving them serious consideration. Despite that, the Nittany Lions have jumped into his current top three. Offers from Miami and a possible offer from Oregon have changed things a bit for Smothers, who states in the article linked above that he will come up with a new top five, and take his official visits to said schools to make his final decision. Penn State has made up a ton of ground here, which combined with an strong season could mean the addition of yet another play-making slot receiver type for the Lions.

The last big name to keep an eye on is Tre Nixon. Nixon has been a Penn State target for a long time, originally catching the staff's eye at one of their camps down south last summer. Since then, Nixon's recruitment has exploded and he has become a nationally-known prospect. Due to his location, making visits to State College isn't exactly easy. However, the staff has still positioned themselves excellently for Tre, and his next visit to Happy Valley should reflect as much. He seems to be the staff's number one target for the position.


Tight End
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Daniel Dalton ★★★ Marshfield (MA) 6'5"/230 Committed to Penn State (5/17/15) Hudl
Cary Angeline ★★★★ Downingtown East (PA) 6'7"/230 Offer Sheet Hudl
Luke Farrell ★★★★ Perry (OH) 6'6"/240 Top 5-ish: Penn State, Boston College, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame Hudl
Naseir Upshur ★★★★ Imhotep Charter (PA) 6'3"/233 Top 13: Alabama, Arizona State, Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, South Carolina, Temple, Miami, USC, Rutgers, Wisconsin Hudl

Notes: It would seem that Penn State is trying to find the answer to the question, "How many tight end recruits is too many?" In all seriousness, there is reason to believe that Penn State could end up with at least two more tight ends in this class. Despite gaining a commitment from Dalton, Penn State continues to pursue the other options on the board.

Angeline has visited State College countless times over the past few years, and should easily make his top group when he announces it. From there, things may get iffy due to his rapidly elevating status, but Penn State should feel good about him. Farrell also has high interest in Penn State, as well as Ohio State. The Buckeyes, however, already hold commitments from two other tight end recruits in 2016. All in all, it's easy to see how each of them could end up in Happy Valley. Knowing recruiting, it won't be that easy, but whether or not the staff feels they have space to bring on three new tight ends is another story.

Upshur is also still on the board for the Nittany Lions, and although he probably has a better chance of ending up at Penn State than people realize, he is likely destined to head elsewhere. Especially considering there is a chance that the Lions have multiple committed tight ends when Upshur is set to decide.


Offensive Line
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Connor McGovern (C) ★★★★ Lake-Lehman (PA) 6'4.5/295 Committed to Penn State (3/20/15) Hudl
Alex Gellerstedt (OT) ★★★ Dublin Coffman (OH) 6'7"/275 Committed to Penn State (5/18/15) Hudl
Michal Menet (OG/OT) ★★★★ Exeter (PA) 6'5"/265 Top 2: Penn State and Duke Hudl
Will Fries (OT) ★★★ Cranford (NJ) 6'6"/270 Offer Sheet Hudl
Josh Ball (OT) ★★★ Stafford Sr. (VA) 6'7"/315 Nearing a top groupOffer Sheet Hudl
Parker Boudreaux (OG) ★★★★ Bishop Moor Catholic (FL) 6'4"/287 Offer Sheet Hudl
Terrance Davis (OG) ★★★★ DeMatha Catholic (MD) 6'4"/305 Top 10: Alabama, FSU, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, UCLA, Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Virginia Tech Hudl
Lucas Niang (OT) ★★★ New Canaan (CT) 6'6"/295 Offer Sheet Hudl
Michael Onwenu (OG) ★★★★ Cass Technical (MI) 6'3"/365 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: The trenches are where the staff appears to be focusing most of their energy in the 2016 recruiting class, and it starts on the offensive line. The staff already picked up the true center they coveted, in Connor McGovern, and will look to strike next with OT/OG Michal Menet. Menet would not only represent another huge pickup, and potentially their top offensive line recruit in quite some time, but another step towards dominating the state of Pennsylvania in 2016. It's unclear right now whether or not the staff wants Menet as a guard or a tackle, but he has the versatility to play both. Personally, I think he would fit best as a guard, where he has the chance to develop into a future NFL starter.

Will Fries is a name we've discussed here before, and he remains the likely top tackle target for the staff at the moment. He has generated a lot of interest lately, and has slowed things down a bit, but Penn State is still in excellent position with Fries. Josh Ball is another recruit who has been picking up steam lately, especially after a solid start to his camp season. Penn State has made a great impression on Ball, and he will continue to be a high priority. Parker Boudreaux has been a Nittany Lion target for some time. He is likely to make a return trip over the summer, and Penn State has a good chance to making his top group, but Clemson is the leader for now.

Terrance Davis very recently named Penn State in his top ten. Things still need to go the Lions' way for Davis to become a Nittany Lion, but making his top ten is a good sign. Lucas Niang is very high on the Lions as well, although he still plans on taking his time. Michael Onwenu is a newer offer, so Penn State is still feeling things out on that front. He is an excellent talent though, one built in the Steven Gonzalez mold. Gellerstedt is a brand new offer, so there's not much to report from him yet. Expect him to visit over the summer to get a better feel for the coaching staff and the campus. Alex Gellerstedt just committed, so there's that.


Defensive Tackle
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Rashan Gary ★★★★★ Paramus Catholic (NJ) 6'4"/290 Offer Sheet Hudl
Karamo Dioubate ★★★★ Prep Charter (PA) 6'3"/279 Offer Sheet Hudl
Ellison Jordan ★★★ Gilman (MD) 6'0"/255 Offer Sheet Hudl
Sulaiman Kamara ★★★ Hermitage (VA) 6'1"/295 Offer Sheet Hudl
Mike Panasiuk ★★★ Lake Park (IL) 6'3"/285 Top Group forming Hudl
Christian Colon ★★★ Independence (NC) 6'3"/325 Top 5 by the end of June, Commitment Date: November 6th Hudl
Rashad Wheeler ★★★ Central Catholic (PA) 6'3"/286 Offer Sheet Hudl
Naquan Jones ★★★★ Evanston Township (IL) 6'4"/283 Top Six: Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, South Carolina, Michigan--Commitment Date: June 5th Hudl

Notes: Penn State's top target at defensive tackle will remain the same until he either announces a Penn State-less top group, or commits. Rashan Gary is current number one player in the entire country, and will likely stay there, barring something unforeseen. He's visited Penn State in the past, most recently in October, but hasn't been back since. He has taken many visits since then, and will likely get back to Happy Valley sometime in the summer. Until he does make that return visit though, it will be hard to project him as a Nittany Lion.

Dioubate is target 1A for the defensive tackle position for the Nittany Lions. He is currently a 100% Crystal Ball favorite to end up at Penn State, but Ohio State is pushing hard as well. It will be yet another round of Franklin Vs. Meyer for his commitment. He plans to take all of his official visits before committing. Ellison Jordan is a name that Penn State fans have been hearing for some time. He's been trending away from the Lions lately, and Maryland and Virginia Tech loom. PSU will still be a contender to the end, but things aren't looking great on that front at the moment.

Kamara has a newer Penn State offer, and is still sorting through options at this point. Before said offer he seemed to be someone who was definitely heading towards Duke, but a Nittany Lion offer could change his plans a bit. Panasiuk has been as hot as any midwest recruit lately, picking up four new offers since April 1st, along with an invitation to The Opening. He appears destined to stay in the Big Ten, but it's been a while since Penn State has had him on campus. The staff would do good to get even more involved soon, before he starts garnering even more interest.

Colon is still seen as a Penn State lean, and was expected to commit over Blue/White weekend. He wasn't able to make it up however, and has slowed things down a bit since then. North Carolina and Penn State were once his top two, but expanded interest from schools like Alabama have changed things a bit. He is set to decide in early November. Rashad Wheeler is a name that Penn State fans might want to get very familiar with, very quickly. He will visit Happy Valley this weekend, and is definitely on commit watch. He is high school teammates with 2016 CB Damar Hamlin and 2017 LB David Adams, so a commitment from Wheeler could pay more dividends than simply adding another body to the defensive tackle pool.

Naquan Jones recently named his final top group leading up to his June commitment. I don't expect a commitment from Jones, but it's always nice to see a recruit name Penn State in his top group.

Defensive End
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Shane Simmons ★★★★ DeMatha Catholic (MD) 6'4"/221 Committed to Penn State (7/30/14) Hudl
Cameron Brown ★★★ Paint Branch (MD) 6'5"/210 Top Ten Hudl
Oluwole Betiku ★★★★ Junipero Serra (CA) 6'3.5"/240 Offer Sheet Hudl
Kyree Campbell ★★★★ Woodbridge (VA) 6'5"/305 Offer Sheet Hudl
Ron Johnson ★★★★ Camden (NJ) 6'4"/240 Offer Sheet Hudl
Khalid Kareem ★★★★ Harrison (MI) 6'4"/257 Offer Sheet Hudl
Josh King ★★★★ Hinsdale South (IL) 6'6"/250 Top Five: Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC--Commitment Date: June 6th Hudl

Notes: The cream of this defensive end crop also happens to be the one commit Penn State has in the group-Shane Simmons. Simmons is an outstanding defensive end, who will likely return to his five star status when all is said and done (Scout is stupid). There's a chance Simmons will take some other visits, but he remains very committed to the Nittany Lions.

Cameron Brown named Penn State in his top ten recently, although it will be tough to beat out Notre Dame in the end here. Brown will be naming a top five in the summer. As some of you may know, Betiku's legal guardian is former Nittany Lion great, LaVar Arrington. Arrington has made it clear though, that he won't push him towards Penn State just for the sake of doing it. It also is important to note that UCLA is one of his top options, and they now employ Arrington's friend and former Penn Stater, Tom Bradley.

Campbell holds Penn State is high regards, and will surely be part of his top ten that is likely to be released sometime this month. Campbell is the #12 ranked player in Virginia, and the #35 defensive tackle overall. Ron Johnson is a name that was a very popular one for Penn State a few months ago, but has cooled considerably since then. He still holds the Nittany Lions in high regard, but it's hard to say that they're the favorites they once were. A few of the schools that have recently offered are big ones, in Missouri, Tennessee, Arizona State and Oregon. The staff desperately needs to get Johnson back on campus if they want to stay in the fight.

Khalid had a good visit to Happy Valley in April, but the Lions are trying to get into a battle that Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide hold the upper hand in. If things don't work out with some of Penn State's other defensive end targets, we could see the staff try to get even more involved here. The biggest fish remaining on the board though, is Josh King. King is the #1 player in the state of Illinois, and the #6 defensive end in the entire country. Pairing him with Shane Simmons would arguably be the best defensive end recruit duo in the country, while also taking a key target away from Michigan State. Penn State has seen a meteoric rise in King's recruitment, one that shot them up into his top five with just one visit. Michigan State is still seen as the favorite here, but with how quickly he's pushed Penn State up his list, a commitment doesn't seem too far out of reach.

Linebacker
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Brendan Ferns ★★★★ Saint Clairsville (OH) 6'3"/223 Offer Sheet (Ohio State eliminated) Hudl
Aaron Hansford ★★★★ St. John's College (DC) 6'2"/210 Offer Sheet Hudl
Khaleke Hudson ★★★★ McKeesport (PA) 5'11"/200 Offer Sheet Hudl
Shaka Toney ★★★ Imhotep Institute (PA) 6'4"/215 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: Things took a fantastic turn for Penn State upon Brendan Ferns' announcement that Ohio State was eliminated from his consideration. Ferns is the #1 linebacker in the state of Ohio, and the Composite #2 inside linebacker in the entire country. The driving force behind his decision to exclude the hometown Buckeyes, was the fact that the university does not offer petroleum engineering as a major. Thankfully for James Franklin, Penn State does offer said major. Ferns and his family had a fantastic visit to Penn State in late March, and is planning on returning soon. The major threat here to Penn State is West Virginia. WVU also offers petroleum engineering, and is also well-known for it. His brother also currently plays for the Mountaineers, and it is close enough to home. I'd say Penn State is the favorite right now, but this is far from decided.

Aaron Hansford received his Penn State offer while visiting in early April. It was shaping up to be another Penn State-Ohio State battle for his services, until Ferns announced his recruitment reset. Now, Ohio State is likely going to focus even more energy on Hansford (the Buckeyes already hold 14/14 crystal ball predictions for him), while Penn State is likely to put the full court press on Ferns. That's not to say that PSU won't be hitting Hansford hard as well (he is an OLB, Ferns an ILB), but it could prove too difficult to beat out Urban Meyer here.

Khaleke Hudson has been on Penn State's radar for a while now, and has visited Happy Valley in each of the previous three months, as well as receiving a visit from defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. Some tweets would imply that Hudson would like to attend school with fellow WPIAL recruit, Damar Hamlin, which could change things a bit. For now though, Penn State appears to be the logical destination (and 80% of the crystal ball agrees). Shaka Toney has had a lot of contact with Penn State since 2015 began. He's not the most highly rated guy right now, and the staff definitely has targets higher on its board. If the staff is able to land commitments from a few other ends and linebackers, there may not be a place for Toney in the end. If he should decide sooner rather than later though, he'll certainly have a spot.

Cornerbacks
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Lavert Hill ★★★★ Detroit Martin Luther King (MI) 5'10"/166 Committed to Penn State (1/13/15) Hudl
Zechariah McPhearson ★★★★ Riverdale Baptist School (MD) 5'11"/180 Committed to Penn State (4/18/15) Hudl
Damar Hamlin ★★★★ Central Catholic (PA) 6'1"/175 Offer Sheet Hudl
Jordan Fuller ★★★★ North Valley Regional Old Tappan (NJ) 6'2"/190 Offer Sheet Hudl
Patrice Rene ★★★★ Episcopal (VA) 6'1"/180 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: Cornerback has become a position of strength over the past few years, thanks to names like Grant Haley, Christian Campbell, John Reid and Garrett Taylor. For that reason, Penn State likely won't be recruiting any other pure cornerbacks (outside of Damar Hamlin). The trick here will be keeping Lavert Hill committed, which may be a little more difficult now that his buddy Demetric Vance has committed Michigan State. Still, Hill has done nothing himself to suggest that he is destined to flip, so don't let rumors drive your thoughts. Let Hill's own words and actions do the majority of the talking. Like they do right here.

As mentioned, Hamlin is the only other pure cornerback that Penn State is still pushing hard for. He's simply too attractive of a target (highly touted, Pittsburgh kid, etc.) to ignore, despite how many cornerbacks are in the class already. With the possibility that Campbell and Taylor could be destined for safety anyway, it's not a bad idea to grab another guy, in my opinion. However, Hamlin will be no easy get. He's been to State College plenty of times, has relationships with the commits and knows the coaching staff well. Schools like Ohio State, Notre Dame and Pitt are not going away, though. A few more strong visits would be huge for the Nittany Lion staff.

Jordan Fuller is listed here as a cornerback, but he's really an athlete. He has the ability to play essentially anywhere on the field (including quarterback). Penn State is very high on him, and vice versa. There is still plenty of time to go in his recruitment, but the Nittany Lions have certainly positioned themselves well early for the New Jersey star. Finally, there's Patrice Rene. The Canadian transplant was very high on Penn State when he was a sophomore, but the PSU coaching staff hasn't reciprocated that interest in a while. There is still contact, but not at the pace that it once was. Expect Rene to head elsewhere.

Safeties
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Andrew Pryts ★★★ Hickory (PA) 6'1"/199 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: Honestly, Pryts is the only realistic safety target I see right now, unless one of the corners or athletes switches to safety. Things still look very good for Penn State here, but Pryts has seen his recruitment blow up in a huge way. Since the calendar turned, he's picked up offers from Wisconsin, Kansas State, Michigan, Ohio State, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, UCLA and Notre Dame. He's also taken visits to Virginia, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State (twice), UCLA, Ohio State (twice), and received a visit from Bob Shoop. The force of his family's legacy is pulling him hard to Happy Valley, and though he will certainly do his due diligence on all the schools interested, I'd be mildly surprised if he didn't end up a Nittany Lion.

Specialists
Name Rating High School Height/Weight Commit Status Highlights
Quinn Nordin (K) ★★★ Rockford (MI) 6'1"/200 Offer Sheet Hudl

Notes: I spoke about Nordin in detail above, so I won't repeat myself here. Suffice to say that I believe Nordin's top two options at this point are Michigan and Penn State. I'll reach out to him again soon to get an update.

* * *

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. Since it is still so early in the recruiting process, I'm capping the list at 15 for now.

  1. Michal Menet
  2. Brendan Ferns
  3. Andrew Pryts
  4. Karamo Dioubate
  5. Josh King
  6. Will Fries
  7. Cary Angeline
  8. Jordan Fuller
  9. Rashan Gary
  10. Damar Hamlin
  11. Quinn Nordin
  12. Ellison Jordan
  13. Trevon Diggs
  14. Khaleke Hudson
  15. Josh Ball

Menet is the number one priority for the staff right now, and I think they'll be able to pull in a commitment from him sooner rather than later. Ferns sits at number two on my list thanks to the enticing combination of his talent, position and hometown. Building stronger relationships inside of Ohio is possibly more important now than ever before. Pryts, Dioubate and King aren't necessarily targets at positions of need right this second (although the defensive end depth does leave a little to be desired), but they are all big time players who are starting to gain more and more attention, nationally. Grabbing any of the three would be a big win for James Franklin, and it's even conceivable that the whole trio become Nittany Lions.

Fries represents another addition to the offensive line depth that is in serious need of a jumpstart. Angeline and Fuller would be more luxuries than needs with the state of the tight end and wide receiver positions, but both represent blue chip players from states that Penn State needs to dominate in recruiting (Pennsylvania and New Jersey). Rashan Gary is a longshot for Penn State right now, but his talent alone keeps him high on this list.

Hamlin would be the third corner in the class, so he's not a need, but grabbing the top defensive Pittsburgh-area talent to pair with the top offensive Pittsburgh-area talent (Sanders) would be delicious for Penn State fans. I personally think that getting a scholarship kicker is a need in this class. Nordin would likely be a four year starter (unless Julius takes the conference by storm this year), and could provide multiple years of stability.

* * *

That's all for this edition of the Big Board. I was planning on ending the post with an updated version of our offer board, but Google Docs is not cooperating with me and updating the map while I update the spreadsheet. So that will be my new project for the next few days. FIXED IT. Next time this roundup posts, I would like to include a recruiting mailbag, as well. I thought about going back and finding some of the older questions from the last time I asked, but I figured they're out of date now. So leave questions if you have them in the comments section. Have a lovely hump day.