Greg Pickel's Penn State Pick Six

The FOS recruiting reporter tackles some of the key topics facing the Nittany Lions as the spring evaluation period heats up.

If you're looking for a barometer of any college football team's recruiting cycle in its early stages, you need not check much further than how it did prior to the spring evaluation period.

The proof of that is in the pudding at Penn State. A three-member class jumped to six members over the month and two days of spring practice. When it was all said and done, a trio of receivers -- Troy Apke (of Mount Lebanon High (Pittsburgh, Pa.), De'Andre Thompkins of Swansboro (N.C.) High, and Chris Godwin of Middletown (Del.) High -- had joined the fold, closing out the position for this class.

In our estimate, it leaves an offensive line spot or two, a defensive tackle spot, an outside linebacker spot, and secondary spots left to fill in this class. As the recruiting season thunders into the spring evaluation period, there is plenty to talk about when looking toward the future.

Below are six pressing matters as April turns into May.

Worley Wraps Up

When Daquan Worley left University Park Apr. 13, he headed back to Coatesville (Pa.) with something he didn't have previously: an offer. And now, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound FOX Sports NEXT three-star cornerback is ready to decide.

Worley, who had previously planned to announce his college of choice Monday, has pushed it to Tuesday on the advice of Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega. He will decide between Penn State, Rutgers and Georgia Tech, in no particular order, though the junior told FOX Sports NEXT East analyst Brian Dohn that his top two consisted of the Nittany Lions and Scarlet Knights before a trip last weekend to check out the Yellow Jackets. They appear to have entered the fold after his visit.

“I feel good with the school [I'm going to choose], and I just think it's time so I can focus on school,” Worley said Sunday.

Fight On State Odds: Watching the way everything has come together, I would say that Penn State sits solidly to land Worley early this week. Rutgers cannot be dismissed, though -- he spoke equally emphatically about both with Dohn after the PA Swag 7v7 a few weeks back -- and I would say the two have quite a foothold over late-arriving Georgia Tech. At this point, I'd make it 60/40 that Worley chooses Blue and White over Scarlet.

Opportunities Await O'Connor

Drills kick off Wednesday at IMG Academy (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), and quarterback Michael O'Connor is anxious to get going. It marks the first opportunity for spring ball for the 6-foot-5, 205-pound signal caller native to Canada. His previous high school stop in Tennessee did not offer spring practice.

The junior is still hearing plenty from Penn State, but will also have a host of schools in to see him throw over the duration of 17 practices. That said, it's difficult to project State as a favorite until seeing who makes an impression on him throughout the next few weeks. It is safe to say though, the Lions are right in the thick of it.

On a broader note, expect quarterback recruiting to go in a similar manner to how linebacker recruiting went a season ago once Bayside Academy (Daphne, Ala.) linebacker Jonathan Walton de-committed. State briefly pursued Wisconsin commit Garret Dooley (Rochester High, Ill.) and sent out a few other feelers, but ultimately didn't take another 'backer when it was all said and done because the right fit was not found.

Expect much of the same to happen at the quarterback position this cycle after Steven Bench left the program. If the Lions can find the perfect fit, they'll grab a QB. If not, they'll stand pat.

Baker Back for Business

Benedictine High (Cleveland, Ohio) 2015 linebacker Jerome Baker had one of the best days a prospect can have last Monday, picking up verbal scholarship offers from Florida, Louisville and Penn State. Ohio State had offered him a week prior.

Baker had noted prior to receiving an offer that he intended to camp at Penn State this summer, citing his eagerness to earn one as the reason. Even with the offer on the table, Baker still intends to camp at PSU.

“I'm still going to go there and show them my offer was for a reason,” Baker explained. “I want them to be confident about giving me that offer, and I'm also attending that camp and quite a few other camps.”

Ohio State and Michigan are the two other programs that will receive a camp appearance from the 6-1, 205-pound prospect. While many would be quick to make the Buckeyes his leader, it's simply not the case at this stage.

Could it be after the sophomore gets more acclimated to the recruiting process? Sure. But early indications have him aligned well with Penn State and his recruiting coach, Anthony Midget.

“Coach Midget -- I've talked to him a few times, and I really enjoy talking to him,” Baker said. “He's very laid back, and tells you how it is. He told me that an offer was coming Saturday [at the Blue-White game], and that it was just a matter of time.”

Hackenberg Evaluating Receivers

By the time five-star recruit and Fork Union Academy (Va.) quarterback Christian Hackenberg arrives on campus in June, he'll be ready to compete for the starting job with JUCO transfer and sophomore Tyler Ferguson.

Both will have a cast of receivers at their disposal, headlined by 2012 record-setting pass catcher Allen Robinson. The current cast will be joined by Hackenberg's classmate, fellow Virginia native DaeSean Hamilton. But he's also keeping an eye on what State is bringing in through the Class of 2014, too.

“I pay attention, and I think that class is huge for us,” Hackenberg said. “I feel like our class set the tone with the understanding of the opportunities we have at Penn State and Thompkins and Godwin, [Troy] Reeder and Nick Scott understood and bought into that understanding.

“The early guys have to be the leaders, and those are all great talents. The receivers can learn from a really good player in Allen Robinson for a year, hopefully come into their own. They bring a lot to the table, and Godwin, for example, is a big, tall, strong kid that can go up and get it. They all bring variables to the table that will help us.”

And he doesn't take anyone's word for it, either. Rather, the senior watches whatever film is available for each prospect that commits to State.

“I watched their highlight tape to see what kind of skills they bring and see what they do on the field,” Hackenberg said. “I do it for myself, to get my own judgment, and they are all very good players with a lot of speed.”

Nelson Narrowing List

As Dohn reported Sunday, Red Bank (N.J.) Catholic offensive tackle Quenton Nelson has announced his top five, narrowing his list of 30-plus offers to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Boston College, Rutgers and Penn State. The Irish are the clear leader at this point.

With State's chances of landing him slim, there are a few other prospects that could end up being the tackle taken in this class. Here is a player-by-player breakdown:

Noah Beh, Scranton (Pa.) Prep: Beh recently relayed his top two of Penn State and Boston College. With the Lions out of the picture with him for a while, they are certainly right back into the thick of it now for the 6-6, 235-pounder. A decision doesn't appear imminent, but I'm placing him atop the board at this point based on what we know.

Alex Bookser, Mount Lebanon High (Pittsburgh, Pa.): I've been on record consistently as saying that Penn State has little chance with the teammate of Apke, and I haven't received much indication to change that thought. Yet, with him yet to rule out any schools out -- he informed sister site HooNation that he'd like to have a top eight by the end of the spring -- he can't be completely dismissed from the Penn State picture, either.

Jermaine Eluemunor, Lackawanna College (Scranton, Pa.): Rather quiet after learning he was not able to attend the Penn State spring game or any spring practices -- for that matter due to NCAA rules, the junior college prospect appears to still have the Lions in the running. It makes sense, since he noted such high praise for the program after his March visit. His movements over the next few weeks will be telling as to where Penn State stands.

• Alex Bars, Montgomery Bell Academy (Nashville, Tenn.): The brother of current Lion defensive end Brad, Alex Bars told me he had a great time on his trip to University Park for the Blue-White Game. That said, I'm still not willing to put the Lions high in the mix for his services. He has kept his recruitment close to the vest, so there may be hidden factors that put the Lions higher on his board than I believe. That said, I peg him for either Michigan or Notre Dame.

Linebacker Ledger

With Salesianum School (Wilmington, Del.) linebacker Troy Reeder in the fold, State is done at the interior linebacker spot for this cycle. That said, the Lions are still searching for an outside linebacker to join him, and De La Salle Collegiate High (Warren, Mich.) prospect Jared Wangler leads the list.

An early April visit landed the 6-2, 220-pound three-star prospect a Penn State offer, and a return trip is planned for the second week of May. He had hoped to come earlier, but his father had surgery a day before the younger Wangler underwent appendix surgery. Both are recovering well, and he will be joined on the trip by his father and stepmother.

The Lions sit very well with Wangler at the moment, and he will be destined for the WILL spot if he commits. If not, a new prospect popped up on my radar this past week, and he'll camp this summer.

Jarred Moorer is a 6-3, 205-pound outside linebacker out of Fordham Prep (Brooklyn, N.Y.), and was invited to one of the Advanced Skill Camps this summer by tight ends coach John Rollo.

“They were one of the first schools to start recruiting me -- since late November, early December,” Moorer said of the Lions. “We [he and Strollo] talk whenever we can.

“Most of the time this past year I was down as a defensive end coming off the edge, so they want to see me up and in coverage.”

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