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Blessed & Honored: 4/21/20

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Global virus pandemic be damned... the Nittany Lions recruiting train remains full steam ahead

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl Classic-Memphis vs Penn State Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

NEW IN STATE OFFERS

It was a busy week for James Franklin and company in terms of extended in state offers. The coaching staff extended offers to in state players from the 2021, 2022 and 2023 recruiting cycles. So, we’ll start with the 2021 offers.

A player that has long been discussed as a potential offer is Malvern Prep standout Lonnie White. Well, the newly minted four-star athlete has picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions.

Shortly after being offered, 247Sports National Director of Football Recruiting Steve Wiltfong and National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn both logged crystal ball predictions for White to the Nittany Lions. White, who is committed to Clemson for baseball, is a tremendous athlete. While he has played mostly quarterback in high school, his future at the collegiate level is likely as a wide receiver, safety, or potentially an outside linebacker.

Ultimately, White is the type of athlete you take and figure out their position when they get to campus. At this point, it would be a surprise if White did not end up in Penn State’s 2021 class.

The other 2021 in state offer came on Saturday when kicker Sander Sahaydak received an offer.

As was the case with White, after Sahaydak received his offer the crystal ball predictions in favor of the Nittany Lions started to pour in. Kohl’s Kicking ranks Sahaydak as the top kicker in the country.

Scholarship specialists are an underrated component to team success. Penn State has been blessed in recent years with the likes of Blake Gillikin, Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout on scholarship. Sahaydak may be the next in line when it comes to reliable specialists for the Nittany Lions.

Penn State also extended a pair of in state 2022 offers. This offers went out to linebacker Abdul Carter and defensive end Keon Wylie.

Both players are currently ranked as three-star prospects, but it is still early for 2022 rankings. Carter attends La Salle College High School north of Philadelphia, while Wylie attends Philadelphia powerhouse Imhotep Charter. In recent cycles, 2021 included, the Nittany Lions have struggled recruiting in Philadelphia. Hopefully, early offers to Carter and Wylie can help to buck this trend in 2022. Especially at Imhotep Charter which, as mentioned, is one of the best programs in the state, in addition to being the alma mater of current starting defensive end Shaka Toney.

Also in the 2022 class, Penn State offered defensive end Anthony Smith.

The Shippensburg native is already 6-foot-8. So, his future could be at offensive tackle. Regardless of what position he ends up at long term, Smith has length for days and a bright future.

Penn State’s staff also extended a trio of in state offers to 2023 prospects. These offers went out to athlete Rodney Gallagher, cornerback Shawn Battle, and safety Ta’Mere Robinson.

Gallagher hails from Uniontown, Battle is a product of Neumann Goretti in Philadelphia and Robinson attends Brashear High School in Pittsburgh. All three of these players appear to be on their way to becoming three of the top players in Pennsylvania for 2023, so, hopefully, the Nittany Lions offering early will put them in a strong position for these three players moving forward.

RUNNING BACK TARGET SETS COMMIT DATE

Dating back to the 2015 recruiting cycle when Penn State landed a guy named Saquon Barkley, sans maybe Georgia, no one has recruiting running back as well as the Nittany Lions in recent cycles. While this has continued since JaJuan Seider was hired as running backs coach following the 2017 season, Penn State is still searching for who will be the running back in their 2021 class.

Well, one potential answer to this question is four-star Ohio native Corey Kiner. Last week, Kiner announced he intends to announce his college decision on the 4th of July.

In March, Kiner released a top 10 that includes Penn State. He also said he is comfortable announcing his college decision on Independence Day, even if he is unable to make any more visits beforehand due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kiner has also said that when it comes to head coaches the best relationship he has is with James Franklin.

While there are some questions about Kiner’s speed, his high school production has been phenomenal. His films looks strong as well. If Penn State pushes for Kiner over the course of the next two and half months, they very well could be the school that lands his commitment on the 4th of July.

FIVE STAR’S TOP 9

Five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci is arguably Penn State’s top 2021 target. He plays a premium position (LT), is an in state recruit, he is arguably one of the top 10 players in the 2021 cycle, and his dad is former Nittany Lion offensive lineman Todd Rucci making him a legacy recruit.

On Monday, Rucci released his top 9 schools. As one would expect, the Nittany Lions were among this group.

While Rucci has a top 9, all signs point toward this being a two team race between Penn State and Clemson. Wisconsin, where his brother Hayden is a tight end, but also be in the picture, but it appears to be a two team race.

Due to the emergency dead period brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Rucci has yet to get to campus to meet new offensive line coach Phil Trautwein. It is important for this meeting to happen ASAP when recruiting visits are once again permitted. Penn State will be in a dog fight until the end for Rucci, but they currently appear to be, at worst, tied with Clemson as his leader.

2021 Wide Receiver's Top 10

Last Wednesday, three-star wide receiver JJ Jones announced his top 10. This group included the Nittany Lions.

The Myrtle Beach native visited Happy Valley for the White Out Game victory over Michigan last October. Following the visit, Penn State appeared to be comfortably among Jones top few schools, if not his leader. However, ever since former wide receivers coach Gerad Parker left to become the new offensive coordinator at West Virginia, Penn State seems to have slipped on Jones list. He also appears to be down a ways on their wide receiver board.