Penn State Climbs Back into Michigan

Standout DB Hill is the first player from the state to commit to the Nittany Lions since 2011.

Talk about dominating the state.

When Pittsburgh Central Catholic safety Johnny Petrishen committed to Penn State for its Class of 2015 Saturday, it gave the Nittany Lions 10 verbals from Pennsylvania.

That list includes the top two players in the state (DB John Reid and RB Saquon Barkley) and an amazing seven of the top 10 prospects overall. No other program has landed more than one verbal from among the Keystone State's 10 best seniors.

But something a little more subtle happened on the recruiting front for James Franklin and company Saturday, too. LaVert Hill, a four-star DB from the Class of 2016, committed to the Lions while on an unofficial campus visit.

He is the fourth member of the Class of 2016, and as the top-ranked DB in the Midwest, he is a great get for the Lions.

What about the subtle stuff?

Well, Hill hails from King High in Detroit. And that is noteworthy because if he sticks to his commitment, he'll be the first Michigan native to sign with Penn State since Allen Robinson and Anthony Zettel did so back in 2011.

PSU's 2012-15 classes -- which were all post-scandal and post-sanctions -- included no prospects from Michigan. The five classes before that (including '11) featured seven signees from the state, including key contributors like Robinson, Zettel, C.J. Olaniyan, Rob Bolden, DeOn'tae Pannell and Chris Colasanti.

Even considering punter bust Ryan Breen was also on the list and that Bolden's career nose-dived after a nice start, you are looking at some talented players there. Not all stars, to be sure. But everyone besides Breen made some sort of impact.

Hill currently has a four-star rating, and as noted is considered the best DB in the Midwest (and obviously Michigan). He ranks as the sixth-best prospect overall in the state. Among his other offers are ones from Ohio State and Michigan, and it was (and probably is) likely only a matter of time until Michigan State joined (joins) the crowd. So recruiting analysts and college coaches obviously think he's legit.

Franklin and Co. have already proven they can effectively recruit Penn State's traditional hotbeds, whether right at home or in nearby states like New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. And this year, that has been good enough to get them what figures to be a top-10 to top-15 class nationally.

To take that next step, though, they're going to have to complement the local talent with top players from other regions -- most notably the South and Midwest.

In recent history, Penn State has featured some outstanding players from Michigan. Anthony Adams and Tim Shaw both enjoyed long NFL careers. Robinson likely would have put every school receiving record out of reach had he not made an early exit to the NFL. And Zettel was a first-team All-Big Ten pick last season.

Will Hill ever be mentioned in such high esteem? Really, who knows?

For the time being, however, he is helping a program that is dominating its own state get the proverbial foot in the door of another.

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