The slowdown was inevitable.
Penn State gained 10 verbal commitments less than two months after it signed 24 in the Class of 2014. Sure, April was slow with just one verbal to the Class of 2015, but Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin picked up three more pledges in May, two in June, and one in July, August and September.
What will October bring?
So far, not much. Penn State has the ability to sign a full 25 players in this cycle thanks to NCAA sanctions going by the wayside in September. It has hit the road during its two October bye weeks to recruit, but hasn’t gained a pledge yet.
Despite some concern from the fan base regarding a need for beef and players to play directly behind those linemen on both sides of the ball, Penn State sits in fine shape. It’s in the running for a number of targets it knew it would need to wait for, has popped a few new names onto the program’s recruiting board, and has seen some fall off, too.
Penn State’s biggest recruiting weekend of the season is on deck Saturday, when 108,000 fans are expected to be in the stands to watch the Lions take on Ohio State in a White Out at Beaver Stadium. Anywhere from 80 to 100 of them will be recruits. Some will want an immediate impression with Signing Day just over three months away. Others are juniors and sophomores, and still getting to know the lay of the land in Happy Valley.
This piece will focus on the top Class of 2015 targets left and other names to know. A breakdown is below.
Names to Know
After Brandon Wimbush declared he was 100 percent committed to Penn State following a summer flirt with Stanford, it didn’t seem like Penn State would have to worry about the New Jersey four-star bolting again.
Funny how things work in recruiting sometimes.
Wimbush flipped his pledge from Penn State to Notre Dame in early October. Penn State has targeted Michigan commit Alex Malzone, Indiana pledge Tommy Stevens and North Carolina verbal Anthony Ratliff, among others. A fourth, Washington senior Ross Bowers, had his coach inform Penn State that, while he appreciated the Lions’ interest in him, he was sticking to his plan to enroll early at California.
There has been little in the way of public acknowledgement from the other three as it relates to Penn State. Stevens said he is committed to Indiana, yet added things can change in recruiting.
Early silence is to be expected when pursuing prospects committed elsewhere, and Penn State isn’t in a rush to fill the void left by Wimbush. Clarity regarding whether the Lions will take another quarterback will take time.
Nick Bowers, the tight end from Kittanning, Pa., committed to Pittsburgh, was offered by Penn State this fall. He hasn’t decided to make any changes, or visits, since, but the noise could pick up following his season.
Matthew Burrell has had a lengthy recruiting process, but the Woodbridge, Va., C.D. Hylton four-star tackle isn’t close to deciding. That’s good for Penn State, which will have him in for an official visit this weekend and have remained in the running all along despite strong vibes at various points that Ohio State and Florida State, among others, were leading the way.
It’s worth watching Mesa (Ariz.) Community College tackle Brendon Pertile, too. The Oklahoma State commit and Florida native has picked up recent interest from Penn State, among other schools. He’s been mum about the direction of his recruitment, but the Lions will continue to work their way in throughout the fall.
The top target HERE has been, and continues to be, Suffield, Conn., Academy four-star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound talent remains open and silent, which is how he approached his recruitment last week. And last month. And last year. He intends to visit Penn State before Signing Day, but with a high school schedule loaded with Saturday games, it will not be until later in the season.
Manassas, Va., Stonewall Jackson four-star defensive tackle Tim Settle popped back up last week when he announced he would take an official visit to Penn State this weekend. It’s good news for the senior, who was bouncing on and off the radars of colleges across the country due to off the field issues. Settle has not opened up publicly about his recruitment in some time, and so while his intentions and preferences are not known, his remains a name to watch.
Finally, Philadelphia George Washington end Shareef Miller was recently bombarded with new interest from Penn State. He’s an intriguing prospect, and also intends to be at University Park Saturday. Georgia three-star Russell Ude remains on the radar, but he is likely to stay in the South or head to the West Coast.
The trail has been cold here since New Jersey three-star Daiquan Kelly joined the class in September. It’s not warm, but Penn State put a feather in its cap when Mechanicsville, Va., Atlee five-star outside linebacker Ricky DeBerry declared he would take an unofficial visit to Penn State this week.
There’s no indication that the Lions are nearing the lead, or anywhere close to it, for the talented linebacker. But getting a top-flight recruit to pay his way for the biggest recruiting weekend of the year can only be considered a plus.
Penn State lost out to Pitt for four-star WPIAL corner Jordan Whitehead, but the Lions had a plan.
It took a while to come to the surface, but the staff offer to Waldorf, Md., Thomas Stone corner and Clemson pledge Juwuan Briscoe was long in the making. He’ll visit for the Ohio State game, and Penn State can consider itself as having a chance to flip him.
Nashville Overton Comp three-star corner Ugo Amadi remains on the radar, as well. The senior is committed to Ole Miss, and considering its on-field success, it’s difficult to see him flipping. Yet, he’s been close with Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, and his planned visit for the Ohio State game at least allows the Lions to believe they have a shot, however small it might be.
Larry Johnson’s Press Conference at Ohio State.