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Blessed & Honored: 6/9/2020

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Penn State looks to build on the momentum of gaining their first 2023 commit, while also looking for answers at wide receiver

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS IN WIDE RECEIVER RECRUITING

There is no way to sugarcoat things, Penn State’s wide receiver recruiting has been a disappointment this cycle. While Lonnie White appears to have all of the tools needed to be a fine wide receiver in the Big Ten and Liam Clifford is oozing with athleticism as well, The Nittany Lions had their eyes set on some big fish at wide receiver this cycle. Unfortunately, it appears they will not net any of them.

The state of Maryland features a trio of four-star wide receivers this cycle. Those three players are Dont’e Thornton, Jalil Farooq and Kaden Prather. Thornton was once committed to the Nittany Lions, and they appeared to be the leaders for Farooq at one point as well. As for Prather, Penn State was long viewed as the heavy favorites until he surprised everyone and committed to West Virignia this past Sautrday. As for Thornton and Farooq, Penn State was left out of the former’s top 6 and the ladder appears to now be a heavy Oklahoma lean.

There are a lot of factors here. First off, the wide receiver play has been poor for Penn State the past two seasons. It has essentially been KJ Hamler and then a whole bunch of drops and inconsistency.

Second, there is the instability at wide receiver coach, and some of the struggles at the position could be chalked up to that. Garad Parker did a great job forming relationships on the recruiting trail and fixing the damage David Corley did in his one year on the job. However, Parker is now the offensive coordinator at West Virginia. It appears Prather having a better relationship with Parker than he does with new Penn State wide receivers coach Taylor Stubbliefield is a big reason why he picked the Mountaineers.

We will dive into the struggles of wide receiver recruiting and the uphill climb Stubblefield has ahead of him later this week. But it would be impossible to write anything about Penn State recruiting right now without touching on it.

NEW OFFERS

Stubblefield continues to offer 2021 wide receivers. This has become even more important with Prather committing to West Virginia over the weekend. The first of the two new 2021 wide receiver offers this week went out to Jayden Thomas.

Thomas is a four-star prospect from Pace Academy in Atlanta. The Nittany Lions join a plethora of Power 5 programs that have offered Thomas. In order for Penn State to have any say in this recruitment at all, they will need to get him to campus when visits (hopefully) resume in the fall.

Texas native Da’Wain Lofton also picked up a Nittany Lion offer.

The three-star wide receiver recently released a top group, but it is a group that Penn State would appear to be capable of getting into. Lofton is also in the group of wide receivers that the Nittany Lions will likely look to get to campus for a visit this fall. This is especially true with wide receiver recruiting currently struggling, which is something we will dive into later in the week.

Sticking with wide receiver but shifting to 2022, Texas native Armani Winfield has picked up a Penn State offer.

The Nittany Lions are one of nearly 30 Power 5 offers that Winfield has already picked up. Odds are, this was an offer to attempt and gauge Winfield’s interest in the Nittany Lions. If he is interested, Penn State will look to get him on campus for a visit this fall.

Sticking with 2022 offers, athlete Christion Stokes has also been offered by Penn State.

Stokes is a native of Harper Woods, Michigan. With Penn State’s recent success in the state of Michigan, this is a recruitment the Nittany Lions could become major players in as it unfolds. They are also an early offer for Stokes, becoming just his 7th Power 5 offer.

A 2022 offer also went out to tight end Bennett Christian.

The 6-foot-5 Christian hails from Allatoona, Georgia. Don’t worry, I also read that as Altoona at first. This is another recruitment Penn State is getting in on early, becoming Christian’s 9th Power 5 offer. He does already hold some big time offers, however, with Ohio State also having offered in addition to the Nittany Lions.

TOP GROUPS

As the Nittany Lions continue to search for a tight end in their 2021 class, they find themselves in the top 10 of one of their top remaining targets at the position. That player is four-star Tampa native Michael Trigg.

Trigg has yet to visit campus, but likely would have done so this past spring without the coronavirus shutdown. Florida State was viewed as the favorite in his recruitment, but with the Seminoles being left off his list this is a recruitment that could be pretty wide open. With the Nittany Lions recent success at tight end if they can get Trigg on campus this fall they could become a threat in this recruitment.

Penn State is also in the top 10 for four-star wide receiver Deion Colzie.

Colzie hails from Athens, Georgia, and is viewed as a heavy Georgia lean. That said, it is never bad for brand recognition to pop up in the top group of highly rated players such as Colzie.

Top 100 offensive tackle Garrett Dellinger has released his final 4 schools. This list includes the Nittany Lions.

Dellinger will announce his college decision on June 24. Dellinger is a Michigan native, and the teammate of another Penn State offensive line target, Rocco Spindler. While it appears that LSU will be the pick when Dellinger announces on June 24, offensive line coach Phil Trautwein did a terrific job when Dellinger was on campus February 1 to even get the Nittany Lions into the mix here.