National Outlook

Every year, new questions arise over whether Joe Paterno should continue as head coach at Penn State. His recent hospital visit as a result of dehydration has spawned a new round of speculation about the 81-year-old's ability to lead the Nittany Lions. But the month of May has been great for the Penn State and Paterno as they added five commitments, including one from a five-star offensive tackle.

6-foot-7, 300-pound Eric Shrive was not expected to commit until the fall, but he developed a strong relationship with the Penn State staff, including Paterno, and he felt that it was time to close the book on his recruitment. The Scranton, Pa. native is the No. 3 offensive tackle in the class of 2009 according to Scout.com and is their No. 23 player overall. He is a big, physical presence on the offensive line that will probably wind up as a right tackle in college. Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Rutgers were some of the other schools that he considered.

Penn State received another offensive line commitment this month, Frank Figueroa of Alexandria, Va. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder's only other offer was from William & Mary, but Maryland, Virginia, Boston College, and Michigan were beginning to show interest.

The Lions also landed three recruits that are projected to help out their defensive backfield. Darrell Givens, a 6-foot-1, 178-pounder from Indian Head, Md., had been an Ohio State commit, but he switched his commitment to Penn State on May 10th. The four-star cornerback is Scout.com's No. 56 overall prospect after making 82 tackles and intercepting three passes in 2007. He also held offers from Florida, Miami, and Rutgers. Another Maryland cornerback, Derrick Thomas of Greenbelt, will be teaming up with Givens in Happy Valley. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound Thomas picked PSU over Illinois and Maryland. The other defensive back commitment was from Stephen Obeng-Agyapong, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound safety from Cheektowaga, N.Y. His other offers were from Iowa, UConn, and Iowa.

Three other Big Ten schools landed four-star recruits in May. Michigan grabbed a commitment from Minneapolis wide receiver Bryce McNeal. McNeal has good size, although he will need to add strength to his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame. He has great hands and is a very fluid athlete. Scout.com's No. 16 wide receiver prospect caught 31 passes for 720 yards and nine scores last fall. He went with Michigan over Clemson and had offers from Colorado, Nebraska, and Minnesota, among others.

Ohio State also picked up a wide receiver commitment recently. 5-foot-11, 175-pound James Jackson of Grand Ledge, Mich. is a burner that runs a 4.31 forty. He must refine his route-running and pass-catching skills, but he has the ability to be a deep threat at any time. Jackson has played quarterback, running back, and cornerback, as well as wide receiver during his career at Grand Ledge High School, and will also be able to make a mark on special teams. He had unofficially visited UCLA, Tennessee, and Michigan before selecting Ohio State.

Four-star offensive lineman David Barrent of West Des Moines committed to the home state Iowa Hawkeyes in early May. At 6-foot-7, 285-pounds, Barrent is most definitely a tackle, and he has enough quickness to possibly play on the left side. Scout.com ranks him as this year's No. 24 offensive tackle and also has him at No. 279 on their top 300 list. His other finalists were Illinois and Michigan State.

Clemson closed out April by landing Scout.com's No. 1 safety prospect, Craig Loston. On May 12th, the Tigers picked up Scout.com's No. 2 safety in Devonte Holloman from Charlotte. Holloman played quarterback this past fall, which he did not do as a sophomore, and as a result his productivity on defense slipped a bit as a junior. He still amassed 50 tackles and two interceptions. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder will be a physical presence for the Tigers. He picked Clemson over Michigan.

Boston College and Florida State each added a player that Holloman will have to defend in future ACC battles. Boston College picked up 6-foot-5, 235-pound Arthur Fontaine of North Dartmouth, Ma. It is possible that Fontaine could end up at defensive end at BC, a position at which he made 62 tackles and three sacks in 2007. But he will probably be a tight end, where he caught ten passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. He also looked at Penn State, Maryland, Clemson, and Georgia.

The Seminoles traveled down to the east coast of Florida to get Titusville wide receiver Willie Haulstead. The 6-foot-2, 195 pound Haulstaed caught 44 balls for 635 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2007. He also had a good showing at the Florida 7-on-7 tournament in April, making first team all-tournament. Halstaed liked the atmosphere in Tallahassee and was also influenced by the Seminoles' signing of five-star quarterback E.J. Manuel in February. He still plans on taking other visits and may trip to Florida, Georgia, Miami, and LSU.

Other recent four-star commitments include Mobile quarterback A.J. McCarron to Alabama; Marietta, Ga. tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen to Auburn; Gaithersburg, Md. defensive tackle Terrence Stephens to Stanford; and San Antonio defensive tackle Calvin Howell to Texas. Also, highly-regarded quarterback Allan Bridgford of Mission Viejo, Calif. chose California over Arizona State and Stanford. And quarterback Jon Budmayr from Woodstock, Ill. committed to Wisconsin, turning down offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Illinois.


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