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Blessed & Honored: 2/4/2020

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It was a busy recruiting weekend in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lion coaching staff hosted their final big recruiting weekend before the new February dead period

Picture via Christian Veilleux Twitter

JUNIOR DAY WEEKEND

This past weekend was the second junior day that James Franklin and his staff has hosted in the last three weekends. With there now being a February dead period for recruiting that goes into affect after National Signing Day on the first Wednesday of the month, this first weekend of the month will now be a vital one in recruiting. Unsurprisingly, Coach Franklin and company killed it.

A key to any recruiting class is a top notch quarterback. Over the weekend, Penn State hosted four-star quarterback Christian Veilleux, and the Nittany Lions appear to have separated themselves from the pack in Veilleux’s recruitment.

A Canadian native, which essentially makes him a Penn State lock, Veilleux now attends the Bullis School in Maryland. Prior to this weekend, he was last on campus to watch the Nittany Lions defeat Indiana in November.

Veilleux was offered by Franklin and then offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne following a camp performance last summer. This was his first time meeting new offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and by all reports the two hit it off. It would not be a surprise if Veilleux ends up the quarterback in Penn State’s 2021 class.

One of the biggest visitors on campus was five-star cornerback Tony Grimes. The Virginia native is arguably the top cornerback in the 2021 cycle, and this was his second trip to Penn State since the end of the regular season.

By all accounts this visit for Grimes was a great one. He gave glowing reviews ($$) to Brian Dohn of 247Sports. It appears the Nittany Lions are firmly in the mix as one of the top schools in Grimes’ recruitment.

Another key visitor on the defensive side of the ball was four-star defensive end Aaron Armitage. A Canadian native, Armitage now attends Blair Academy in New Jersey. Blair Academy produced current Nittany Lion defensive end Jayson Oweh, and Blair Academy coach Jim Saylor was a college teammate of Coach Franklin.

Following a strong visit, the Nittany Lions find themselves among Armitage’s leaders. They also hold one of his four crystal ball predictions on 247Sports.

Staying on the defensive line, three-star in state defensive tackle Dorien Ford was also on campus.

Ford attends Baldwin High School outside Pittsburgh and he has been a regular visitor at Penn State. He visited twice last summer, for the Pitt and Michigan games, and again in early December. The Nittany Lions appears to be in a great spot in Ford’s recruitment.

For the second consecutive junior day the Nittany Lions hosted a talented contingency from the state of Michigan. This contingency included linebacker Jamari Buddin.

This was Buddin’s first trip to campus, and the Nittany Lions appear to have made a move with him this weekend. If Buddin makes his way back to campus, then Penn State should find themselves firmly in the mix in his recruitment.

Joining Buddin from the Wolverine State were offensive linemen Rocco Spindler and Caleb Tiernan.

Spindler is a top-100 player and one of the top offensive linemen in the 2021 cycle. Getting Spindler away from Michigan will not be easy, but the Nittany Lions appear to have put themselves in a position to be in this recruitment until the end.

Another offensive line visitor was Harrisburg native and Penn State commit Nate Bruce. It is always important to get commits on campus, especially during big recruiting weekends such as this one when they can get some peer recruiting done. Additionally, this was Bruce’s first time meeting new offensive line coach Phil Trautwein.

Four-star offensive tackle Eli Sutton was also on campus. A Brentwood, Tennessee, native, this was Sutton’s first trip to Happy Valley. Ryan Snyder of Blue-White Illustrated caught up with Sutton to discuss his visit ($$). The next step for the Nittany Lions will be to get Sutton back on campus.

It goes without saying, but Trautwein has hit the ground running on the recruiting trial. The Nittany Lions should have no trouble building an elite offensive line class for 2021.

The Nittany Lions also hosted a 2023 recruit over the weekend. Tight end Mathias ‘Mega’ Barnwell was on campus for his second visit, with his first being for the White Out victory over Michigan this past October.

Barnwell is Spotsylvania, Virginia, native. While he is just a freshman in high school, all signs point toward Barnwell being one of the top players in the 2023 cycle. Barnwell’s recruitment is in its absolute infancy, but Penn State has made a bigger early impact in his recruitment than any other school.

COACHES DROP IN ON A FIVE-STAR TARGET

Last Wednesday, Franklin and Trautwein set out on an important recruiting visit. This visit took them to Warwick High School where they dropped in on five-star, legacy offensive tackle Nolan Rucci.

Wednesday was a busy day at Warwick as Dabo Swinney, Brian Kelly, and coaches from Ohio State all dropped in to visit Rucci as well. Rucci is one of the most important recruits in the 2021 cycle for the Nittany Lions. Penn State has an opportunity to put together an elite offensive line unit, and a key piece to this is Rucci. Additionally, while there is never a true must land commit...an in state five-star legacy is pretty damn close to a must land commit.