Lions Stay Busy in Buckeye State

Penn State has shown a renewed interest in Ohio under first-year coach Bill O'Brien and his staff. Get the lowdown on some of PSU's primary targets.

Ross Douglas may have started a new trend for Penn State recruiting.

The Avon, Ohio cornerback didn't have an Ohio State offer when he committed to PSU in February. But that's beside the point. He's the first player of the Bill O'Brien era to be plucked out of Ohio.

With just three Ohio players -- Douglas included -- in the Nittany Lions' last five recruiting classes, the Buckeye State has been just that for most recruits when it came down to Ohio State and Penn State. However, O'Brien is looking to change that.

Starting Early

Even before O'Brien finished his tenure with the New England Patriots, he was worried about Ohio. Way back on Jan. 19, he told Fight On State's Mark Brennan, “Number one is we've got to take care of that 300-mile radius. We've got to do a great job in the state of Pennsylvania. We've got to be able to go into Ohio. We've got to be able to go into Chicago. We've got to be able to go into New England and New York. And then, the mid-Atlantic states, especially with the job Larry Johnson has done recruiting in the Baltimore/D.C. area. That's definitely one of the objectives.”

While Pennsylvania has been the clear focal point for the new staff, Ohio has been hit especially hard, too. Penn State coaches have been in and out of the state since the spring evaluation period started.

Flowing Along

According to, Penn State has shown some sort of recruiting interest in at least 18 uncommitted prospects in Ohio.

Here are some of the bigger names the Lions have checked out. Not surprisingly, there is a heavy emphasis on defensive backs, as that is a position of need for PSU.

Solomon Warfield, S, St. Edward's High (Lakewood)

Warfield just picked up a Penn State offer Thursday. He has a desire to hear from current players and to visit PSU, though it would be no surprise if current commits Douglas, Christian Hackenberg and Adam Breneman hop on the message train, as well. He told Scout's John Garcia Jr. he will use his official visits for schools farther away on his offer list, though he didn't indicate if that means Penn State. Either way, the 6-foot, 175-pound DB would be a big addition to the Class of 2013. He's on record as saying he's in no hurry to make a decision.

Marcus Ball, S, Westerville South

Ball also picked up an offer from Penn State, his coming a day prior to Warfield's. Penn State immediately stood out. He told Scout's Simone Scott that Penn State would likely be one of his official visits. The PSU coaching staff is targeting taller DBs and at 6-3, 205, Ball fits that mold.

Darian Hicks, CB Solon High.

Hicks has been to both Ohio State and Michigan, though a stop in State College appears to be in the cards in the near future. He named Michigan State his leader back in February. He has stated in interviews that he would not mind going to school at least a couple of hours away from home.

2014 Focus

Ohio's Class of 2013 prospects are not the only ones receiving visits from Penn State's staff. The Lions are also targeting some top Class of 2014 recruits.

Linebacker Tinashe Bere, quarterback DeShone Kizer, defensive tackle Marquis Moore and wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass will all camp at Penn State this summer, and there could be a couple more surprises. Linebacker Michael Ferns picked up a Penn State offer and hasn't ruled out camping at Penn State. It appears Lion quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher and secondary coach John Butler have spearheaded most of the Class of 2014 recruiting in Ohio at this point.

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