Greg Pickel's Penn State Pick Six

The FightOnState.com recruiting reporter tackles some of the key Blue-White week recruiting topics concerning the Nittany Lions.

With little time separating Penn State from its annual Blue-White Game Saturday at Beaver Stadium, there are a few notes from the recruiting scene as the Nittany Lions get set to finish spring practice.

The staff will soon hit the road to high schools across Pennsylvania and the nation with the spring evaluation period underway since April 15. For now, though, the travel is mostly in one direction, with recruits making the trek to Happy Valley to catch a glimpse of spring ball.

So it's time for another installment of Pick Six, and a spin around the Penn State recruiting scene at the midway point of April.


Beh Boils Down List

Scranton (Pa.) Prep offensive tackle Noah Beh is one of a few offensive tackles Penn State is looking at to fill its lone Class of 2014 tackle spot. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound lineman has narrowed his list to three ahead of his Saturday trip to University Park. The junior says that, in no order, his list id down to Boston College, Penn State and Syracuse, with a decision coming “when it feels right.”

Boston College would seem to have a slight lead at this point, based off his comments to CuseNation.com recruiting analyst Mike McAllister after a recent visit to Syracuse. ”This trip definitely pushed Syracuse toward the top,” Beh said. “It's still a little bit early, but I'm trying to narrow it down to a couple schools to make it easier for me. But they're definitely near the top with Boston College. Those are probably my top two right now.”

It was not immediately clear when or why Penn State was added into his top three, but it certainly seems -- based on a few messages exchanged with him -- that the Lions are still right in the mix. However, he noted previously that he hadn't heard from the Penn State staff for a period of time during the winter, which may have initially cooled him on the Lions. His Saturday visit, and reaction, will be telling as to where State stands with the Pennsylvania product.


Martey's Visit Hits the Mark

Although Penn State appears to have no desire to take a third running back in the Class of 2014, it hasn't stopped the staff from hosting backfield products. Centreville High (Clifton, Va.) product Christian Martey took advantage of that last Saturday.

The 6-2, 225-pound junior took in the Lions pre-Blue-White scrimmage during his four-hour stop, chatting most with defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who doubles as his recruiting coach. He also chatted with head coach Bill O'Brien and mingled with Lion running backs coach Charles London.

“As soon as I saw stadium for first time … I walked in, and it was the biggest stadium I've ever seen in my life,” Martey said. “The offense is definitely fast tempo, and they don't take any breaks. They were all working 100 percent of at the time.”

The only thing that could have made the visit better in the prospect's mind would have been to chat with a running back or two. However, time didn't permit it. The junior did notice Akeel Lynch, calling the Lion back “really good” and noting that “he has a burst, and he's massive.” He went onto add that what stood out most to him about London's running backs was that they “don't take one hit and go down. They drive their feet and take defenders for five or 10 yards.”

Martey will camp at Penn State June 1, his first action since the first quarter of the first game in Centreville's season. He tore his ACL, and has been out since.


WPIAL Whip-Around

Secondary recruiting is obviously a hot-button issue these days, and there are no hotter prospects on the Lion big board than the Gateway tandem of safety Montae Nicholson and cornerback Anthony Davis -- plus Aliquippa cornerback Dravon Henry.

However, none of the three will be at Penn State this weekend, as all are in the midst of track season and have meets Saturday that will be keeping them away from University Park. Nicholson and Davis will both compete in the Tri-State Invitational at West Mifflin High School, while Henry and Aliquippa will be involved in the Beaver County Championships.

Speaking of WPIAL athletes, recent wide-receiver commit Troy Apke, out of Mount Lebanon High, can't make Saturday's game, either. The junior and his Blue Devils' track team will also be at the same Tri-State Invitational.


Prospect Preview

The Future Focus board on our TAP Forum lists many of the top prospects on Penn State's recruiting board at this point in the spring. While some of them will be in University Park this weekend, others will be heading to different areas of the country to check out other programs' spring contests.

Starting on the defensive tackle board, Abraham Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.) standout Thomas Holley is the only listed prospect coming to Penn State this weekend. T.C. Williams (Alexandria, Va.) tackle Jeremiah Clarke is believed to be heading to Virginia Tech per Jacquie Franciulli of HooNation, while Bethel High (Hampton, Va.) prospect Ricky Walker tells me he is heading to Tennessee.

It is a similar story on the wide receiver front, where two prospects have separated themselves from the rest for the Lions one remaining wideout spot. Swansboro (N.C.) High receiver De'Andre Thompkins will come to University Park Saturday with his father, while Chris Godwin out of Middletown (Del.) High, who visited University Park Apr. 13, tells us he is off to Virginia Tech this weekend.

It's unclear where or if Thomas Jefferson (Pittsburgh, Pa.) outside linebacker Chase Winovich might visit this weekend, but it appears it won't be Penn State. I'm starting to become convinced the Lions have fallen out of the running for the junior three-star linebacker. Though which side the cooling off came from is unclear. Winovich told Go Blue Wolverine that Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan make up his top-three, noting the Wolverines slid into his top three upon offering last weekend. There is nothing that says the Lions couldn't do the same with an offer, but it just seems unlikely at this point.

Finally, the recruiting board at offensive tackle will see two of its higher profile prospects come to town, as both Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic tackle Quenton Nelson and Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville, Tenn.) tackle Alex Bars will be in town. The latter confirmed his trip to Fight On State Wednesday, while Nelson's voyage has been set for a while.

Penn State is absolutely in the mix for both, but it appears clear that neither has State on the top line at this point. I see Notre Dame and Ohio State at the top of Nelson's recruitment at the moment. If the Fearless Forecast predictions were due today, I'd project Bars at either Michigan or Notre Dame when all is said and done.

That said, I'm not counting out Penn State for either's services just yet. There is no question that Bill O'Brien and company can pull right into the race with a strong visit to campus, something they have done in the past. There is just no question that the hill is steep for both.


Cooper's Connor Connection

Former State linebacker Dan Connor captured the eye of many fans, young and old, during his tenure at Penn State. Jake Cooper certainly counts himself on that list.

At 6-2, 230 pounds, the Class of 2015 linebacker from Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) has heard plenty from Lion defensive coordinator John Butler, serving to advance what he calls a “love for Penn State” since he began watching State on television growing up. He will visit University Park Saturday.

Growing up, I loved to watch Dan Connor, so even as a young buck I loved Penn State and watching them play on national television,” Cooper explained. “So getting the opportunity to be recruited by them is awesome.”

The sophomore will camp at Penn State June 8, and he cites the team, atmosphere and coaches in Happy Valley as the biggest reasons for his early excitement about PSU. He's also being courted by the likes of Rutgers, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Stanford, Princeton, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Temple and Miami.

What might eventually set State apart, though, is his relationship with the fiery secondary leader, one that, even in the early stages, immediately clicked.

“We agree on everything,” Cooper said. “I love the way he coaches, he is very easy to talk to. All he wants to do is win and get better, as well as make his players the best they could possibly be.

“I have a lot of respect for him. Any coach who is willing to give 100 percent of their effort to their players goes right to the top of my list. While visiting, I look to see how the coaches interact with the players and I love the way he, as well as the rest of the coaching staff, does.

“Also, he is a great guy to sit and talk with,” Cooper added. “So, basically, his personality on and off the field makes it easy to have a good relationship with him.”


Quick Hitters

St. Joseph-By-The-Sea High (Staten Island, N.Y.) defensive tackle Pete Mokwuah confirmed to Fight On State Wednesday night that he will visit campus Saturday. … One-time Penn State offensive tackle prospect Steven Moss has committed to the University of Virginia. … Erie Cathedral Prep head coach Mike Mischler informed me Wednesday evening that one of his cornerbacks, Felix Manus-Schell, would visit Penn State Saturday. However, as of Wednesday night, Manus-Schell says that visit isn't quite set in stone yet. … A pair of Class of 2014 commits, DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.) RB Mark Allen and Fairfax (Va.) High WR Nicholas Mark Scott, will both be in town Saturday.


Fight On State Top Stories