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Blessed & Honored: 6/22/2021

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As a hectic month of June carries on it’s time for another jam packed edition of Blessed & Honored

Mark Alberti-USA TODAY Sports

ANOTHER BIG OFFICIAL VISITOR WEEKEND

For the third time in as many season it was a busy official visitor weekend in Happy Valley. This visitors included a trio of edge rushing prospects in Anto Saka, Keon Wylie, and Tyreese Fearbry.

Saka attends Loyola Blakefield High School in Towson, Maryland. The Nittany Lions were among Saka’s top two or three schools entering the visit and may have emerged from the weekend as the clear cut leaders. While it is not completely clear if Saka will be a defensive end or an outside linebacker in college, he has great athleticism and pass rushing skills that make him a four-star talent.

Wylie and Fearbry are both in-state talents. Wylie is a three-star LB/DE from Imhotep Charter in Philadelphia. While, like Saka, it is up in the air what position he will play in college, it does appear that his likely future home is defensive end. Penn State appears to be the heavy favorite for Wylie coming out of the visit.

Fearbry is a Pittsburgh native who long appeared to be a heavy Pitt lean. However, coming out of the visit he named Penn State his leader. Could the Nittany Lions steal the four-star defense end from Pitt? It certainly seems possible.

Rarely is the most important official visitor on a big recruiting weekend a commit. This past weekend, however, this was the case for the Nittany Lions as they hosted offensive tackle commit Drew Shelton for an official visit.

Since transferring from Dowington West to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Shelton’s recruitment has become more a dogfight for the Nittany Lions. Shelton took an official visit to Florida last week. However, the week prior he was in Happy Valley for an unofficial visit.

While Shelton is unlikely to completely shut his recruitment down after his official visit, the Nittany Lions getting him on campus for an official visit, and for the second time in three weeks, heading into the July dead period should be a big boost to the Nittany Lions in their effort to keep Shelton in the fold. The Nittany Lions are going to have to continue to fight to keep Shelton, but what’s important is that he is still a member of the class and two visits in three weeks gave the Nittany Lions a chance to recapture some needed momentum.

Staying on the offensive line, four-star Gunner Givens was also in town for an official visit this past weekend.

Givens is a Virginia native who has long been viewed as a heavy Virginia Tech lean. Landing Givens over Virginia Tech will not be an easy task but it appears the Nittany Lions at least gave him something to think about over the weekend.

Another four-star prospect who was on campus for an official visit over the weekend was Texas athlete Cristian Driver.

While Driver hails from Texas, this is a recruitment that is turning into a Big Ten battle between Penn State and Wisconsin. Driver is the son of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Donald Driver, who had James Franklin as his position coach for one season in Green Bay. Entering the visit the Nittany Lions held both crystal ball predictions on 247Sports for Driver and they could be primed to land a commitment from the four-star athlete after he takes his official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. Driver could play wide receiver or safety for the Nittany Lions, but it appears the staff prefers him at safety.

As the Nittany Lions continue to search for a pair of running backs in their 2022 class four-star North Carolina product Omarion Hampton was in town for his official visit.

While prying Hampton away from the in-stat Tar Heels would take a Herculean effort, the Nittany Lions have at least given Hampton something to think about. Again, he’ll likely end up staying home, but Penn State appears to be comfortably in Hampton’s top two or three schools.

UNOFFICIAL VISITORS

The Nittany Lions also hosted some highly touted in-state underclass prospect on unofficial visits over the weekend. One these players was Archbishop Wood tight end Markus Dixon who walked away with an offer from James Franklin and his staff.

Penn State became Dixon’s 6th Power 5 offer. Dixon, a 2023 prospect, is a player who is likely to pop up on campus a good bit over the course of the next year as his recruitment begins to pick up. The Nittany Lions should be a big player in Dixon’s recruitment.

Another in-state underclass prospect who made their way to campus for an unofficial visit was 2024 St. Joe’s Prep cornerback Omillio Agard.

Agard already holds an offer from the Nittany Lions and is shaping up to be one of the top defensive prospects both in the state and the region for the 2024 cycle. With Agard being an in-state prospect this is a recruitment that the Nittany Lions will be heavily involved in.

TWO DEFENSIVE TARGETS SET COMMITMENT DATES

Coming off of their visits to Penn State, both Wylie and Fearbry have set their commitment dates. The first of the two will be Wylie who will commit on July 3.

It would be a major surprise if Wylie did not choose the Nittany Lions. Penn State has long appeared to be the school Wylie has favored but there was some questions when it came to where Wylie was at on their defensive end board. With Wylie shooting up their board after a good spring, this one appears to be a slam dunk for Penn State.

As for Fearbry, he will announce his college decision one day later on July 4. If Penn State truly is the leader for Fearbry as he has reported, then it is hard to envision him not choosing the Nittany Lions on July 4.

CORNERBACK TARGET SET TO RETURN TO CAMPUS

Earlier this month four-star Florida cornerback Cam Miller was in town for an unofficial visit. This weekend, Miller will once again return to State College for an unofficial visit.

It goes without saying that two unofficial visits in a month indicates some pretty series interest in Penn State by Miller. Especially when you consider how far he has to travel for the visit. Miller is one for Nittany Lion fans to keep an eye on.

WIDE RECEIVER COMMIT CONTINUES TO PUSH FOR A 5TH STAR

Last week at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge wide receiver commit Kaden Saunders put on a show. Saunders routinely burned some of the best defensive back prospects in the county, ran crisp routes and caught everything throw his way. With this performance, Saunders took home WR MVP honors from the camp.

Saunders is already viewed as one of the best wider receiver prospects in the country. While his size (5’10”, 172 pounds) could keep him from making a true push for a 5th star, Saunders has elite speed, burst, routine running skills and athleticism. Even if he does not reach five-star status, Saunders will likely become a consensus top-100 prospect before things are all said and done.