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Blessed & Honored: 9/10/2019

This past weekend was the first big visitor weekend of the season for James Franklin and company

Buffalo v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images


Even though the Nittany Lions were hosting a MAC opponent in Buffalo, as is always the case for night games at Beaver Stadium it was a busy visit weekend for James Franklin and his staff. This included arguably their top remaining 2020 target Canadian tight end Theo Johnson.

A strong argument can be made that Johnson is the best tight end in the 2020 recruiting cycle. This was Johnson’s third visit to Happy Valley since the spring, and he will return for an official visit for the Whiteout against Michigan.

Johnson will also officially visit Georgia, Michigan, and Iowa this fall. While official visits will likely tell the story in his recruitment, getting him back on campus for one last unofficial visit can only help the Nittany Lions who appear to be his leader entering the stretch run of his recruitment.

Two other 2020 prospects on campus were defensive line commit Amin Vanover and offensive line commit R.J. Adams.

This was Vanover’s first visit to Beaver Stadium for a game as a commit, but getting Adams back on campus was the big visit. The last visit Adams made was to Penn State for the Lasch Bash in July. This is big for Coach Franklin and company as Adams has visited other schools and is currently scheduled to officially visit Kentucky next weekend. While Adams is likely to still take OVs this fall, if the Nittany Lions can continue to get him back on campus that can only help with their chances of keeping him in the fold.

Vanover brought teammates along from St. Joseph Regional in New Jersey. They included four-star 2021 running back Audric Estime and four-star 2021 offensive lineman Geno VanDemark.

In addition to having Vanover currently committed, the Nittany Lions also signed Smith Vilbert out of St. Joseph Regional last cycle. As the Nittany Lions continue to have success with St. Joseph Regional, you have to imagine that, if they offer, they will be among the top contenders in the recruitment of Estime and VanDemark moving forward.

A former Penn State commit was also in town over the weekend. Four-star 2021 wide receiver Dont’e Thornton was on campus for his first visit since de-committing on August 1st.

Since he reopened his commitment Thornton and the Nittany Lion staff have remained in touch. Getting him back on campus was the first step toward potentially getting Thornton back in the fold. Penn State should continue to be one of the main players in Thornton’s recruitment moving forward.

2021 offensive lineman Nate Bruce was also on campus.

Bruce is a Harrisburg native and has become a regular on campus in recent months. During a visit over the summer Bruce was offered by the Nittany Lion staff, and Penn State quickly took control of his 247Sports crystal ball. Bruce committing to Penn State appears to be more of a question of when, not if.


On Friday, the Nittany Lion coaching staff extended an offer to 2021 defensive back, Jaylen Johnson.

The Cincinnati native also holds Power 5 offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, and Ohio State. The next step for the Nittany Lions to become players in Johnson’s recruitment is to get him on campus for a visit. Preferably for a game this fall.


Four-star 2020 tight end D.J. Rogers released his top 10 schools late last week. This group included the Nittany Lions.

According to his 247Sports timeline Rogers has not visited Penn State. Without a visit, it is not possible to view the Nittany Lions as a legitimate threat in his recruitment. Even if he would happen to make it to campus this fall Penn State would still be a long shot. However, making the top group of a highly rated recruits is always good for the brand.