Big Ten Snapshots
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The Nittany Lions have pulled in a dozen recruits so far, five from in-state and the rest a mix of mostly East Coast kids, but also an Ohio and Colorado kid thrown in. They have recently secured some important verbals, including a touted quarterback and linebacker. Is it the Skype-ing with Joe Pa? Whatever it is, Penn State looks like they have a great chance to finish strong and pull in a really good class.
Pennsbury offensive tackle J.J. Denman had a healthy offer list and the Nittany Lions beat out conference foes like Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, Michigan State, Northwestern, and schools like Notre Dame and Pittsburgh to keep him at home.
One that Got Away:
Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker James Ross had two good friends at Penn State in Robert Bolden and Allen Robinson, and it appeared as though the Nittany Lions were in strong position, but Ross chose to stay in-state and play for Michigan.
Anthony Stanko, a 6'5, 300-lb guard from Warren Howland kicked off the class. He is a high school tackle that we see as an interior guy. He's a strong kid with a nasty streak. He's a tough, straight on run blocker. We'd like to see him develop in pass protection, but he's a classic Big Ten lineman.
Four-star linebacker Carmen Williams was a big get. He is an athletic outside prospect who can run and cover. Fellow 'backer Nyeem Wartman is long and packs a punch as a hitter. He had offers from Florida, Pittsburgh and others. He can play a couple linebacker spots, but is likely going to be a SAM in our opinion.
The Nittany Lions have two tight ends committed. We've gotten to see Jesse James at a few events, as well as on tape. He obviously has a great frame at 6'7, 245-lbs. He's the type that coudl easily put on 20-lbs and be like an extra offensive lineman as a blocker. J.P. Holtz is more of an athlete. He played running back for much of his junior year and should be more of the receiving threat in this duo.
Penn State has always done well in Maryland, and the two kids they have in this class from that state can really play. I like defensive end Brent Wilkerson's ability. He has good size. He's athletic, and reminds me of some of the ends who have done well at Penn State in recent times. He had a strong list of offers and to secure him was a good get. Guard Brian Gaia is, like Wilkerson, just barely out of four-star range and had offers from Iowa, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and more, but grew up a Nittany Lion fan. We see him as a future starter.
The one that our staff really likes is Joey O'Connor from Windsor (Co.). He's nasty, tough, and finishes his blocks with authority. Listed as a tackle, I think he may be a guard at the next level, watching his film, but either way, this kid is a good one.
Quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg is a kid you can definitely win with. He has good size, is a solid athlete and makes smart decisions, quick reads, and is an accurate passer. I don't know about his ceiling, but I think the kid certainly won't lose you games and will be an efficient, mistake free kid that will get the ball in the hands of playmakers.
Neither defensive tackle, Austin Johnson and Derek Dowery, are ranked, and are considered to be sleepers, but we've been told they had excellent summers at camps and will be guys that get re-evaluated a lot over the fall.
Right now, Penn State is looking good for wide receiver Eugene Lewis and cornerback Armani Reeves, two highly touted East Coast kids. Another defensive back, Demetrious Cox is also still looking at Penn State.
Defensive tackle Jarron Jones committed, then de-committed, but the Nittany Lions are still looking good for him. Tommy Schutt and Sheldon Day are long shots at the position, but it appears as though they really only need one more. Schutt grew up a Penn State fan, but may be favoring Notre Dame. Another interior guy from Illinois, Faith Ekakitie, is still on the board. The offensive line class is in pretty good shape, but Greg Pyke has the Nittany Lions high on his list.
There are some top kids in the state still on the board like defensive end Noah Spence and running back Rushel Shell, although the Nittany Lions will have real, real battles on their hands for both of them. The same goes for five-star running back Wes Brown, a Maryland kid with a slew of offers.
Running back William Mahone has Penn State in his final four, although we think Pittsburgh may be the team to beat. Another big time Ohio back, Brionte Dunn, a five-star Ohio State commitment, is visiting Happy Valley next week.
At wide receiver, Lewis has the Lions high, but Canaan Severin and Malik Golden are in consideration as well. Devin Fuller, a four-star dual threat quarterback who is looking hard at Penn State, may project to receiver. The Nittany Lions have two tight ends committed, but tight end Kent Taylor is still in play.