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Blessed & Honored: 5/12/2020

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Top groups SZN keeps going strong

Michigan v Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

TOP GROUPS

It was a busy week of top groups SZN for Penn State. This included the top 6 of a pair of four-star offensive linemen — Dylan Fairchild and Jonah Miller.

The Nittany Lions find themselves in Fairchild’s top group was not a complete surprise. He was offered by Penn State in February and immediately expressed a large amount of interest in the Nittany Lions. If not for the coronavirus pandemic, he likely would have visited Penn State this spring. While Fairchild will likely remain in the south, Penn State could secure an official visit and be in this one until the end.

As for Miller, he is an offensive tackle from Tucson, Arizona. He has not visited Penn State, but was offered by the Nittany Lions last month. While Miller is not going to end up at Penn State, it is a good look for the brand to be in his top group and speaks volumes about new offensive line coach Phil Trautwein and his ability to quickly cultivate a relationship with players.

Sticking with the offense line, the Nittany Lions also made a pair of top 15s. These two top groups were offensive tackles Tristan Leigh and Diego Pounds.

Typically, it is difficult to put much stock into a top 15. However, with Leigh and Pounds it is a bit different.

Leigh is a five-star prospect that has visited Happy Valley multiple times. While he released a top 15, Clemson and Penn State appear to have separated themselves as the top two in his recruitment. While Clemson appears to be the current leaders, the Nittany Lions remain heavily in the mix in this recruitment.

As for Pounds, he is another player that would have been on campus this spring if not for the coronavirus shutdown. This is a recruitment the Nittany Lions appear to be gaining steam in, and one in which they could find themselves as the team to beat.

Moving across the trenches to the defensive line, Penn State made the top 7 for Virignia defensive end George Wilson.

With Penn State’s need at defensive end this cycle and it being a poor year in region outside of Elijah Jeudy who has already committed to Georgia, Wilson is quietly one of the most important recruits left on the board. If new defensive line coach John Scott Jr. can land Wilson to pair with Rodney McGraw at defensive end in this class, that will be a strong first defensive end class for Scott Jr. Especially when you factor in it being a poor year in region at defensive end, as well as Scott Jr. not having any sort of window to recruit on campus after taking the job before the coronavirus pandemic brought visits to a halt.

Finally, there was the top 10 of Michigan wide receiver Andrel Anthony.

Anthony is very high on Penn State and was scheduled to officially visit State College before the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. Anthony is likely down the board a bit right now for the Nittany Lions. However, if they push for Anthony they will be very difficult to beat.

NEW OFFERS

A pair of notable 2022 offers also went out in the last week. One of these offers was extended to wide receiver Peter Kikwata.

Penn State was Kikwata’s first FBS offer. Although, Maryland offered shortly after the Nittany Lions did on Sunday night. Kikwata is a Germantown, Maryland, native. Penn State is almost always in the thick of any recruitment they choose to push in among Maryland kids. So, Kikwata could be a name to know moving forward.

Running back Jaylen Thompson has also picked up an offer.

Thompson is a running back from Calabasas, California. With how well Penn State has recruited the running back position the last five years, any new running back offer that the Nittany Lions extend is noteworthy.

Back home in Pennsylvania, 2022 offensive lineman Drew Shelton picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions.

Shelton is a Downingtown native. The Nittany Lions join Kansas State, Oregon, Pitt, and Rutgers as Power 5 programs that have offered Shelton. With Shelton being an in state prospect and the Nittany Lions offering him early, this is a recruitment Penn State should be a major player in.

Staying in state, on Monday, the Nittany Lion staff extended a pair of 2023 offers in the Philadelphia region. On the receiving end of these offers were defensive end Ronel Nukah and linebacker Josiah Trotter.

Nukah attends Northeast High School where former Nittany Lion defensive end and current graduate assistant Deion Barnes had worked as the defensive coordinator before returning to Penn State earlier this off-season. With Barnes’ ties to Northeast, Penn State should find themselves firmly in the mix throughout Nukah’s recruitment.

As for Trotter, he is the son of former Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. He attends St. Joe’s Prep in Philadelphia, where is brother Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who is currently committed to Clemson, will be a senior in the fall. Penn State never showed must interest in his older brother during his recruitment, so we will have to wait and see if any potential hard feelings impact the younger Trotter’s recruitment or not.