The biggest visitor weekend of the fall is upon us.
Penn State squares off with Ohio State Saturday evening in a nationally televised affair at Beaver Stadium. Roughly 100 prospects are expected to be in attendance for the tilt, including many key targets left on the Nittany Lions’ Class of 2015 radar.
“From a White Out perspective and from an enthusiasm perspective, you can’t replace the energy that people feel and fans getting caught up in that type of an environment,” first-year PSU Coach Franklin said Wednesday. “You want to be a part of it. I think there’s no doubt.”
Linebacker coach Brent Pry offered a similar sentiment Thursday.
“When you walk into a high school for Penn State and you get into a conversation with coaches and players, that’s one of the first things you talk about, Beaver Stadium and the White Outs,” Pry said. “[Last year], there was no other game day atmosphere that [recruits] attended that got them as excited as Beaver Stadium did.”
So who are the big names coming into University Park? Read on for our breakdown and stay tuned to our premium forum for updates.
Visitors to Know: Offense
QB Tommy Stevens
Indianapolis Decauter Central
The Skinny:Stevens is committed to Indiana, but will trek to Penn State on an official visit this weekend on the heels of the Lions extending an offer last weekend.
Penn State’s Chances: We like the Lions’ odds to flip the three-star quarterback, even as soon as this weekend. Stevens has been firmly committed to the home-state Hoosiers for a long time, yet Penn State has always ranked as one of his favorite schools.
OT Matthew Burrell
Woodbridge, Va., C.D. Hylton
The Skinny: Burrell has been off and on with Penn State for some time, but the senior’s interest in the Lions has returned. The four-star will be an official visitor this weekend.
Penn State’s Chances: We’re not in love with Penn State’s chances, what with Ohio State and Florida State seemingly inching further and further away. But getting a name like Burrell on campus means Penn State still has a foot in the door. When a program gets a top prospect to a game, especially its biggest home date of the year, it always has a shot.
OT Michal Menet
Reading, Pa., Exeter
The Skinny: Menet has offers from all over, the latest coming Wednesday night from Northwestern. The four-star is one of Pennsylvania’s top prospects, and after camping this summer, Penn State hoped the next visit from the 2016 standout would be for the Ohio State game.
Penn State’s Chances: Menet is nowhere — make that NOWHERE — close to deciding. But Penn State has positioned itself well in the early-goings by impressing the junior and his family on previous visits. Penn State has as good a shot as anyone else, if not better.
TE Cary Angeline
Exton, Pa., Downingtown East
The Skinny: Despite attending no camps this summer, Angeline has nearly 20 offers midway through a strong junior season. Penn State has been on him for a while, and the Lions have always been a program the family has kept their eye on.
Penn State’s Chances: Like Menet, Angeline is not going to rush to a decision long before Class of 2016 prospects must put pen to paper. But Penn State is the only school he’s visited more than once, and we like its chances, along with Miami, thus far.
OT Parker Boudreaux
Orlando Bishop Moore
The Skinny: Penn State may not have offered Boudreaux until it saw him at the Stetson camp back in the summer, but it has long has interest in him and him in the Lions. The 2016 tackle was likely one of the first players to declare his intent to visit for the White Out game, which, of course, is this weekend.
Penn State’s Chances: Way too early to call this one, as Boudreaux has offers from all over. But, his willingness to come all the way from Florida — on his own dime — to visit Penn State speaks volumes.
Other offensive visitors
Class of 2015
RB Andre Robinson - verbal commit
WR Juwan Johnson - verbal commit
OT Sterling Jenkins - verbal commit
OT Emanuel McGirt, Durham, N.C., Hillside
Class of 2016
ATH Jordan Fuller, Old Tappan, N.J.
QB Donovan Williams, Woodbridge, Va., C.D. Hylton
RB Miles Sanders - verbal commit
WR Aaron Mathews, Clairton
WR Ahmir Mitchell, Egg Harbor City, N.J., Cedar Creek
WR Justin Layne, Cleveland, Ohio, Benedictine
WR Tre Nixon, Viera, Fla.
WR Kobay White, Harrisburg, Pa., Bishop McDevitt
WR Trevon Diggs, Gaithersburg, Md., Avalon
TE Alex Marshall, Andover, Mass.
Class of 2017
ATH Lamont Wade, Clairton
OL Robert Hainsey, Monroeville, Pa., Gateway
Visitors to Know: Defense
LB Ricky DeBerry
Mechanicsville, Va., Atlee
The Skinny: Family connections have always kept Penn State on the five-star’s mind, even if it never seriously crept close to the top of his recruitment. The Lions aren’t likely to do that Saturday night when DeBerry takes an unofficial visit, but they can position themselves for the stretch run.
Penn State’s Chances: It’s hard to like the Lions in this race, as this is DeBerry’s first trip to campus in sometime. But a return trip is the place to start, and it’s a credit to Franklin and his staff that they landed one.
DE Shareef Miller
Philadelphia, Pa., George Washington
The Skinny: Miller was off Penn State’s radar due to off-the-field issues, but the senior has done a nice job of cleaning those up and preparing for college. The visit will be of the unofficial variety.
Penn State’s Chances: Penn State trended well with Miller before things fell off. Can the Lions jump right to the top of the pack? It’s hard to say, but no visit could propel them quite like a trip for a White Out game.
CB Juwuan Briscoe
Walford, Md., Thomas Stone
The Skinny: The Clemson commit has blown up in recent weeks, as Penn State and Ohio State have both offered. The Lions snared the first official visit of the two this weekend.
Penn State’s Chances: Briscoe is a trainee of PrimeXample, the Maryland defensive back training group run by the father of former Nittany Lion Stephon Morris and former NFLer Troy Vincent Jr. Despite Vincent Jr.’s son moving on to North Carolina State in the last cycle, there is no bad blood between the family and Penn State, and we like the Lions’ chances here.
CB Damar Hamlin
Pittsburgh Central Catholic
The Skinny: After a strong camp performance this summer, Hamlin picked up the offer he coveted from Penn State. A few more have rolled in, but none have struck him quite like the Nittany Lions’ did.
Penn State’s Chances: It’s always too early to tell with 2016 prospects, but Penn State sits as well with Hamlin as any program in the country. His familiarity with corners coach Terry Smith helps PSU’s chances, as does his trip back to campus.
DT Rashan Gary
Paramus, N.J., Catholic
The Skinny: Gary looked 10 times the athlete — and defensive tackle — at the N.J. NFTC camp in May than he did at Penn State’s camp in 2012. The five-star and nation’s top 2016 prospect has offers from everywhere.
Penn State’s Chances: Gary is a wildcard, namely because he has never claimed favorites and has only visited Penn State a couple times. To win the battle with five-stars, though, you must consistently get them on campus for big events. That starts with Saturday’s showdown.
Other defensive visitors
Class of 2015
DE Ryan Buchholz - verbal commit
DT Adam McLean - verbal commit
OLB Manny Bowen - verbal commit
Class of 2016
DE Ron Johnson, Camden, N.J. - currently a maybe
DT Anthony Long Harrisburg, Pa., Bishop McDevitt
OLB Ron George, Pittsburgh Central Catholic
LB Khaleke Hudson, McKeesport, Pa
CB Damar Hamlin Pittsburgh Central CatholicCB Joe Joe Headen Harrisburg, Pa., Bishop McDevitt
Note: Jenkins’ visit will be an official. All other Class of 2015 verbal commitments will take their official visits to Penn State in January.