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Blessed & Honored: Top DL Target Returns to Campus, Multiple Notable 2026 Visitors, & More

As spring practice and the spring visit period carries on it was another busy recruiting weekend in Happy Valley

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State at Utah Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports


The 2024 cycle will be a busy one on the defensive line for Penn State. It is Deion Barnes's first cycle as defensive line coach, and the Nittany Lions may be looking to sign as many as six defensive linemen.

One of their top defensive line targets this cycle is New Jersey product Jordan Thomas. This past weekend, Thomas was back in Happy Valley.

Getting Thomas back on campus was a big, big visit for Penn State. It was his first since Barnes was promoted to defensive line coach and it gave the Nittany Lions a chance to gain momentum in his recruitment. Thomas is one of the best defensive linemen in the region and arguably their top defensive line target. Hopefully, they will get him back on campus for an official visit this summer.


Sticking with 2024 defensive linemen, three-star De’Andre Cook was on campus and left with an offer from the Nittany Lion coaching staff.

It remains to be seen where Cook is on Penn State’s defensive line board. However, Cook picking up an offer while on campus is a sign that the staff liked what they saw from him physically and would likely accept his commitment right now. Additionally, Cook is an in-region prospect attending Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C. It will now be time to watch to see if Cook returns for the spring game later this month, or an official visit this summer.


Linebacker Michael Gaul was another notable visitor to campus this past weekend. Gaul is as local as a prospect can be, as he is a State College High product.

Right now, Toledo and Virginia Tech are Gaul’s two FBS offers. While Penn State has not yet offered that would appear to be a question of when not if. When that does occur Penn State will likely be impossible to beat in Gaul’s recruitment.


Most of the notable 2026 prospects that made it to campus were offensive line targets. This made it a busy weekend for Phil Trautwein. One of these visitors has one of the best offensive linemen names you will ever hear - Langston Hogg.

Hogg is a Cartersville, Georgia, native. Obviously, 2026 prospects signing with schools is a long way away. That said, getting prospects such as Hogg, especially fellow out of region prospects, to campus as often as possible is what’s most important right now. That is how relationships are formed.

Back in the region, Virginia offensive lineman Darius Gray also made it to campus.

In addition to the Nittany Lions, Gray already holds Power 5 offers from Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin. It looks like Gray will be one of the top offensive line prospects in the region for 2026 so the more Penn State can get him on campus the better.

In-state 2026 offensive lineman Tyler Merrill was also on campus.

It, obviously, remains to be seen where Merrill’s recruitment goes. As an in-state prospect, he is a player who will likely continue to pop up on campus for visits in the coming months. The Cumberland Valley prospect is a name that may quickly become a familiar one for people who follow Penn State recruiting.

A 2026 prospect who was on campus with a name that may sound familiar is Donovan Moorhead. The 2026 quarterback is the son of former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead.

With his dad now the head coach at Akron, the younger Moorhead plays for Hawken School in Gates Mills, OH. Right now Buffalo is the lone FBS offer that Moorhead holds. If he does begin to develop into a Power 5 level quarterback, between his early visits to campus and dad’s ties to the coaching staff it would be easy to see Penn State as a big-time player in his recruitment.