May and June are typically the dullest months in the college football calendar. Spring practice is over and all eyes shift from a focus on development to determine who the best 22 are for opening day. The long slog to the September 1 showdown with the Appalachian State Mountaineers is upon us. Fortunately for Penn Staters, the Nittany Lions closed out the month of May with a flurry of recruiting activity that put James Franklin’s squad back in the news in a positive way.
Last week, Penn State secured verbal commitments from three-star junior college defensive back Jaquan Brisker, four-star all-purpose back Devyn Ford, four-star corner back Marquis Wilson, and four-star defensive back Tyler Rudolph. That’s a pretty good haul, as Patrick and Marty told us. Even Brisker, the lowest rated of the four, has an offer from Alabama.
Of course, the last fish was the biggest. Last Monday, Linebacker U secured the commitment of perhaps the best linebacker prospect in this class - five-star Virginia-native Brandon Smith. For a team that has oddly struggled to recruit big time linebackers in the recent past, this was a big win. How’d we do it?
This weekend, we received a little insight into the recruiting process courtesy of Charles A. Wallace II, the father of four-star offensive lineman Caeden Wallace, a Penn State commit:
Cleaning out videos and found this: July 2017- This is why @caedanw and others chose @PennStateFball! Every parent and recruit should hear this! #notbusinessbutpersonal @coachjfranklin pic.twitter.com/OJG91SySyp— Charles A Wallace II (@cawallace2) May 27, 2018
Snake oil indeed, Coach. Tyler Donahue Land of 10 wonders who’s next - Lance Dixon? Noah Cain? Zach Harrison?
In other football-related news...John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times tells us that Juwan Johnson wants to be “the guy” in Penn State’s offense. Money quote:
Thirteen months ago, Johnson sat in the same chair as the star of spring, the buzz of camp, the name on everyone’s lips. Now, following a breakout campaign, the 6-foot-4 target is already a projected 2019 first-round pick. And with Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki and DaeSean Hamilton off to the NFL, Johnson is ready to be Trace McSorley’s No. 1 option in 2018.
”When we need it the most, I want to be that guy to make the play,” Johnson told the Centre Daily Times, leaning forward in his seat in anticipation. “It’s just the mindset I’ve always had. I can make that play. Not being cocky, just being confident about it, but I can make that. Just give me the ball, and you’ll see. Run to my side, and I’ll pick up the block, and you’ll get those yards. Since I was young, I believed I could do anything.”
And now he may be tasked to do everything. Well, maybe not everything, but close to it.
In other news...Special Olympics Pennsylvania begins this Wednesday, May 31. Two thousand athletes are expected to compete in the 49th Annual Games, which Penn State will host for the 31st consecutive year. Good luck to all the competitors!