Penn State held its first football camp of the summer Sunday. The day that started with a bang before the running, catching and blocking even began.
The Nittany Lions landed a commitment from three-star corner Myles Hartsfield Sunday morning, the first (and so far only) pledge to kick off the camp season. Of course, the New Jersey native was not the only player to make Sunday a big day.
Below, we break down who was on hand at head coach James Franklin's first summer one-day camp, who stood out and more.
Hartsfield, from Parlin, N.J., Sayreville, committed to Franklin Sunday morning, before camp even began. He said he made up his mind earlier in the week but wanted to tell the PSU staff of his decision in person.
Then the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect took plenty of reps throughout the five-hour camp, and almost all of them came at corner. He was clearly one of the top performers of the day, using his combination of speed and physicality to clamp down on receivers..
The junior spent plenty of time around Franklin, too, and also chatted with a host of top prospects on hand — including Class of 2015 verbal commitment and four-star Juwan Johnson, Class of 2015 defensive back Kareem Gibson, and Class of 2016 four-star running back Miles Sanders, among others.
Hartsfield's full testing times are not known, but the junior did turn in a 31-6 three-jump leap.
Sanders Blasts through Camp
If Hartsfield was the best defender on the field Sunday, the Pittsburgh Woodland Hills four-star standout Sanders got the unofficial nod on the other side of the ball.
The 6-foot, 195-pounder showed dazzling speed and agility with an array of shiftiness, too. It is no wonder a Penn State offer under the former staff carried over to its new one.
"It was awesome, just getting to work with the running backs coach [Charles Huff] that's been recruiting me," Sanders said.
The Class of 2016 speedster received plenty of one-on-one time with Huff and Franklin.
"It was good," Sanders said. "[Huff] just wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing, and he's a good coach overall."
Franklin pulled Sanders aside for a few minutes — into a golf cart — and the two chatted.
"[The one-on-one time] wasn't expected, but it means a lot for a Penn State head coach, or any head coach, to show interest like that," Sanders said. "He just wants to make sure that I'm coming here."
Sanders has yet to set any other visits, but some could be added later this summer.
Zembiec Takes Care of Business
Rochester, N.Y., Aquinas quarterback Jake Zembiec made the first of many camp stops this summer Sunday at University Park. The sophomore said afterward he accomplished exactly what he set out to do.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound passer showcased a strong arm and accurate touch throughout drill work, and looked even better when throwing into heavy traffic during the camp's seven-on-seven periods.
"I felt real good," Zembiec said. "It felt kind of weird moving inside [Holuba Hall] with the lighting and stuff, but we threw good.
"[Quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne] was just giving me pointers and we were working on our three-step drops and stuff — just planting your foot and throwing it, little stuff like that."
Zembiec said he felt he impressed the Lions' staff.
"They're real excited about what we have building between us, and they like what they saw today," Zembiec said. "All the coaches kept walking up, talking to me, correcting me, and they made me feel real good and made me feel like it was really worth coming down here.
"I had a great camp."
In more was than one. Following camp, he received an offer from the Lions.
Gibson Flashes Potential
When it comes to recruiting in the Keystone State, Franklin and his staff have all their bases covered. That includes Johnstown.
It's home to Kareem Gibson, a three-star corner at Greater Johnstown. He didn't pick up an offer Sunday, but the 5-10, 167-pounder gave the staff something to chew on should it want to down the road.
Hartsfield was the best DB Sunday, that is not up for the debate. But Gibson wasn't far behind, as his quick feet in a shuttle run and quick hips in coverage were readily apparent from the get-go. He is without question a name to watch should Penn State miss on its higher rated defensive back targets and be in position to offer another down the road.
Glassboro Duo Take in Happy Valley
The aforementioned Johnson, a four-star pass catcher from Glassboro, N.J., didn't camp Sunday. Instead, he took in camp and hung out with receivers coach Josh Gattis and the rest of the staff.
Another Garden State prospect from the same school did participate, however, as corner Ronnie James, who has five offers, looked for his sixth in front of the Lions' defensive staff.
"I didn't know how good I was going to do because I didn't touch a football since last season because I was focusing on track," Jones said. "I just wanted to come up here and have fun, really."
"The coaches were telling me I did a good job."
James is not high on the list of defensive backs that are next in line for Penn State to offer, but the 5-11, 177 pound defender with offers from Syracuse and Rutgers, among others, may be a name to watch down the road.
Smiles were seen from campers and coaches all around Holuba, its adjacent outdoor practice field and the lacrosse field across the street (where linemen worked out).
They were seen from current Lions, too, as a new NCAA rule allowed current players to work summer camps for the first time.
Not all of Penn State's roster was on hand, but Franklin said he saw a benefit for the players that were, including tight end Kyle Carter, safety Malik Golden, receiver Geno Lewis, corner Jordan Lucas and tackle Donovan Smith.
"Other sports have been doing it for years," Franklin said. "It's been really good. For us, it's just another opportunity to spend some more time with them.
"I think it's really important as players, to not only get coached and play the position, but it's also important a lot of times to step to the other side and be the coach, and kind of understand why we're asking them to do certain things."
Odds & Ends
• Milburn, N.J., lineman Jake Pickard was all over the place Sunday, whether it be with the tight ends — which he worked with for most of the day — or with the defensive line. The Garden State three-star is not in line for an offer yet, but he put on a fine performance.
• Bethlehem, Pa., Freedom Class of 2016 defensive end Cordell Cotto stood out during line drills. He's a bit undersized, but has quality technique and is a name to remember for the next cycle.
• A surprise visitor to Sunday's camp was Altoona, Pa., linebacker and Pittsburgh commitment Kevin Givens. It's unclear where the Lions stand with him and vice versa, but the junior did like Penn State before opting to commit to the Panthers.