Four of the regions most explosive offensive threats were among 25 players who ventured to Penn State over the weekend for the Nittany Lions first junior day event of the year.
Living less that 45 minutes from the Nittany Lions campus, Altoona's A.J. Alexander is very familiar with the Penn State mystique.
“I have been up there to see all of that stuff before,” Alexander said. “The only thing that was new to me was the presidential suite, which was really nice. I like Penn State a lot.”
Alexander exploded onto the scene last year after a standout performance at the Scout.com All-American Combine in Pittsburgh. The 5-9.5, 184 pound athlete from has quietly amassed almost twenty scholarship offers.
Alexander seemed very impressed by what the Big Ten program had to show him.
“I liked the visit a lot,” Alexander said. “I got up there Saturday morning. We all watched a highlight tape to start. After that, we took a bus tour of the campus and came back to watch practice for a few hours. We then ate at the training table with some players and coaches before we took a tour of the football facilities. Then we watched another highlight film before meeting with the coaches in groups.
“We first met with the coaches that recruit our areas,” he added. “Then we broke out and met with our position coaches, which for me was Coach Mike McQueary. Finally, we all went to the presidential suite in Beaver Stadium to have some ice cream. That was the only thing that I haven't seen before.
The stadium looks huge from up there.”
The Nittany Lions also made a solid impression on the top wide receiver in Virginia Deion Walker. Walker plays at Christchurch High the home of U.S. Army All-American J'Courtney Williams.
“It was really cool talking to Coach Paterno,” Walker said. “He told me how much they wanted me to come to Penn State and all that. He didn't say that I would or would not play right away. He told me that it was up to me on how hard I work to see if I can play right away.”
Metuchen, New Jersey wide receiver DeJuan Miller and Muhlenburg, Pa. wide receiver/safety Vaughn Carraway also attended the event.
The Pittsburgh Panthers have hosted several recruits during their first few spring practices. Most recently a pair of Trinity High linebackers Mike Yancich and Andrew Sweat took in a practice session. Sweat has been offered by almost 30 schools and has a good idea of the ones who are at the top. It did not sound like the Panthers would be one of them.
"I just didn't get the same feeling there that I got at some of the other schools," Sweat said.
The Panthers also hosted Thomas Jefferson defensive tackle Lucas Nix, Brashear wide receiver Ed Tinker, a talented duo from Youngstown, Ohio as a pair of of Cardinal Mooney standouts Brandon Beachum and Taylor Hill visited. The Panthers also hosted a talented group from Hopewell including David Posluszny and Ryan Turnley.
Melville, N.Y., defensive end Scott Vallone, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound St. Anthony's prospect, has recently received four new offers, from West Virginia, N.C. State, Michigan State and Vanderbilt. Those are in addition to the ones he already held from Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, Boston College and Rutgers.
“Once I got that Rutgers offer,” he said, “it just kind of steamrolled.”
Vallone took a trip to Boston College this weekend for junior day and enjoyed watching practice and touring the facilities He’s also visited several of his other potential college homes and says he is wide open.
“Syracuse was good. I have been hearing from them since my sophomore year. They said they’d be in touch with me in the fall, and they were,” said Vallone, who is being recruited by SU secondary coach Jim Salgado. “They said they’re tired of losing. They want to go to a bowl game this year and they’re done with rebuilding.”
Vallone is looking to get away from home for college, but not too far away. Syracuse is five hours away from his home.
“I’d like to be far away that I can grow up, but close enough that my family can see me play,” he said. “I’ve always had a thing for [Syracuse] because of their basketball team. I started following them the year before they won the title with Carmelo Anthony. I’m a big basketball fan.”