Penn State hosted its Junior Day over the weekend, and it could not have gone any better. Not only did Penn State pick up a trio of commitments, but the Nittany Lions reportedly made a great impression on a number of prospects in the 2017 and 2018 classes. Here are some of the highlights from the weekend:
The biggest story from the weekend, obviously, is the fact that James Franklin was able to pull in a trio of commitments. In order:
- Franklin's first commit of the weekend came via a high school sophomore in Harrisburg's Micah Parsons. The five-star defensive end is the highest-rated recruit that Franklin has ever pulled in, as he is currently the No. 3 recruit in America on 247. While he won't play a snap for the Nittany Lions until Sept. 1, 2018 when the team hosts Appalachian State, you're not off base if you're *really* excited for him. Go back, look at his numbers as a freshman and sophomore, and guffaw.
- Next up was a three-star defensive end who is also from Harrisburg in Damion Barber. He fits the general profile for what we've seen out of end prospects under Franklin and co., as Barber has a lightening quick first step. He is good at getting to the quarterback, but like most high schoolers, he needs to get stronger. Barber has plenty of upside for a DE who terrorizes quarterbacks.
- Lastly was four-star defensive end and Virginia native Yetur Matos. The No. 162 recruit in the country has a frame that coaches love, as he's 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. He can put on some weight and be a physical defensive end, or he can project as an outside linebacker at the next level. With some seasoning, the sky is the limit for Matos.
- Sean Clifford continues to be the favorite prospect of every Black Shoe Diaries staff member with some of the stuff he said about his visit. After wondering aloud who would join him and Dylan Rivers in the class of 2017, Clifford told Steve Wiltfong of 247 that this trip reminded him why he loves Penn State.
- As for Rivers, he wasn't as vocal as Clifford, but he did mention that he enjoyed his trip to Happy Valley.
Here's where the weekend gets really interesting. Penn State brought in gobs of talent over the weekend. To save yourself some time, I'm gonna dump a bunch of links in here with the names of the relevant recruits. Consider this a recruiting version of SwH. Cool? Cool.
Greg Pickel of PennLive caught up with eight recruits after the weekend ended. The only committed guy you'll read about here is Clifford, but the following dudes also made cameos: four-star linebacker Avery Roberts, four-star offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe, four-star receiver Mark Webb, three-star end Elijah Conliffe, three-star wide receiver K.J. Hamler, three-star defensive tackle Kurt Hinish, and three-star safety Keontae' Jones.
Wiltfong talked to about a handful of dudes after the weekend ended. The two biggest names, unquestionably, were Philadelphia running back D'Andre Swift and Clairton defensive back Lamont Wade – Swift is a five-star prospect, while Wade is a four-star prospect who has the potential to become a five-star dude. Among the other 2017 guys Wiltfong talked to was four-star Pittsburgh linebacker David Adams. As for 2018 players, Wiltfong talked to five-star tight end Zack Kuntz and receiver prospect Shaquon Anderson-Butts. If you'd like to know Wiltfong's thoughts on Junior Day (and trust me, you do), click here, but be warned that it's behind a paywall. Finally, here are Wiltfong and Sean Fitz's prediction pages on 247, where you can see the new Crystal Ball picks they made for Penn State.
Over in Notre Dame's neck of the woods, Tom Loy of Irish247 said that Penn State is now in the lead for Hinish. A teammate of Adams and Thorpe at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Hinish's decision will likely come down to Penn State or Notre Dame.
A few prospects also tweeted out their thoughts from the weekend. The most notable was Wade, who sent out a delightfully cryptic tweet that I'm sure no one will read into at all.
As you can guess, a number of other recruits took to Twitter as the weekend ended. Roberts took the trip up with his brother, 2018 safety Isheem Young sent out a tweet that kinda sorta implied that he's going to the same school that Swift attends, while 2017 West Virginia athlete Derrek Pitts tweeted out some pictures with coaches. For more Twitter musings, go onto Twitter or something idk.
All of college football is in a quiet period from now until April 14, so for the next month and handful of weeks, Franklin and his staff aren't allowed to travel for recruiting purposes. However, recruits can come up to campus at their leisure, so don't be surprised if we hear about a bunch of kids coming up between now and then. Once that ends, Penn State gets into its evaluation period. I'll let the NCAA explain:
During an evaluation period a college coach may watch college-bound student-athletes compete, visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents off the college’s campus during an evaluation period.
So basically, the staff can go anywhere it wants and evaluate, it just can't have a face-to-face discussion with the kids off of campus. There is a quiet period from June 1 through July 31 and a dead period (so no contact unless it's via telephone or some form of written communication) from June 27 to July 10, but for the most part, we're in the part of the calendar where Franklin has historically killed it.
The biggest weekend on the horizon is, unsurprisingly, Blue-White Weekend. Last year, Penn State was able to pick up one commit during its biggest weekend in the spring in four-star defensive back Zechariah McPhearson. The year before, Franklin got four-star defensive tackle Adam McLean to commit to Penn State.
To sum everything up, Junior Day went really well, the next few weeks are very recruiting-heavy, shout out to the three dudes who committed over the weekend, go State.