The Lion's Lounge - July/August 2003 edition

PSU would love to sign another quality group. Who are the coaches zeroing in on? Which bluechips have we offered? Find out all you need to know about Penn State recruiting inside 2003's second edition of the Lion's Lounge, the most complete and fun source for Penn State targets on the internet.

At the end of each month, LionNews puts together an up to the minute offers/interests page, tabbed the Lion's Lounge--a place where Penn State fans can come and find out what has transpired with Nittany Lion recruits over the last month.

LionNews' Prospect Key:
* * * * * - Penn State verbal commitment!
     * * * * - Penn State leads or co-leads.
          * * * - Penn State is very much in the picture.
               * * - Penn State is barely in the picture.
                    * - Penn State has been mentioned.
                    - Penn State has not currently offered.
                     - Incomplete information exists.

Commitments: Scholarship Breakdown
Currently it is unclear how many athletes Penn State will sign with its class of 2008--there has been speculation about early enrollers, grey shirts, and fifth year seniors not returning.  Until more information becomes available, it is no more than speculation.

Matt Hahn- Melville, Ny.  (St. Anthony's HS)  6-1, 215
* * * * *
Matt should be viewed as the trend setter for this class, giving his verbal to Penn State way back in late February.  Although some recruiting analysts believe Matt will play fullback at Penn State, he will line up at running back.  Built very low to the ground with powerful legs, Matt uses his physical abilities combined with speed and vision to carve up opposing defenses.  His former teammate, offensive lineman Chris Auletta, will be a true freshman for the Nittany Lions this fall, while the staff holds out hope that current teammate, offensive lineman Alex Fletcher, wavers again from his commitment to Stanford.

2. Greg Harrison- Shenandoah, Pa.  (Shenandoah Valley HS)  6-5, 295
* * * * *
"Once I commit, this is going to be my team.  You're only as good as the [people] you surround yourself with, so I wanted to surround myself with the best athletes possible."
- Greg Harrison said of his recruiting class in an August 1st article by the Daily Collegian

Greg made the Penn State coaching staff and fans thrilled when he gave his verbal commitment to Penn State on the day of the Blue White Game.  He has been doubly important to Penn State's current class--he is a stud offensive lineman and has acted as a sort of liason/recruiter for Penn State.  He rivals Erie lineman Kyle Mitchum as the top trench guy in Pennsylvania, although TheInsiders Midwest evaluator, Chris Pool, ranked Greg as the seventh best player in the entire region.  Greg has been projected as a guard on the next level, but could play tackle.

3. Wyatt Bowman- Mechanicsburg, Pa.  (Cumberland Valley HS)  6-6, 315
* * * * *
"The closer we are now, the closer we'll be up there and that's key in a winning football team." - Wyatt Bowman said of his class in a August 1st article by the Daily Collegian

If it weren't for an inch or two and a couple pounds, it would be difficult to make the distinction between Wyatt and Greg Harrison.  Both are stud lineman.  Both committed on the day of the Blue-White Game.  And both have formed a friendship that will be the backbone of this class.  On the field, Wyatt projects as your prototypical tackle, with long arms and great feet.  What seperates him from some of the larger offensive lineman Penn State has brought in over the last ten years is his nasty misdeamenor.  Earlier this spring at Penn State's Nike Camp, the coaches who worked with the offensive lineman named him the best lineman at the camp, which led to Wyatt being named Student Sports Nike Football Training Camp All-Americans.

4. Dontey Brown- McKeesport, Pa.  (McKeesport HS)  6-3, 252
* * * * *
"The kid's an animal. He kills people whenever he hits." - A.Q. Shipley on Dontey's playing style

A true middle linebacker, Dontey hails from the same area as former Nittany Lion Brandon Short.  So you know he's tough as nails.  Dontey surprised many Pennsylvania observers when he committed to the Nittany Lions back in April over Pitt.  Dontey has become friends with A.Q. Shipley and some of western Pennsylvania's other top recruits.

5. Tony Davis- Warren, Oh.  (Howland HS)  5-11, 180
* * * * *
Although not the most heralded recruit in Penn State's class, Tony is certainly one of the most important.  With Penn State's thinning defensive backfield, Tony could see immediate playing time at corner, providing depth.  Although Tony flirted a little with Michigan over the summer, he still contends that Penn State is the place for him.  The Nittany Lion faithful will be pleased to see Davis bring his 4.4 forty and 41 inch vertical to Happy Valley.

6. Spencer Ridenhour- White Plains, Ny.  (White Plains HS)  6-0, 215
* * * * *
Recently named to Student Sports Nike Football Training Camp All-Americans, Spencer turned everyone's heads with his size, speed, and agility.  A strong safety on defense, you will be hard pressed to find a more imposing looking  player outside of a NFL training camp.  The early knock on Spencer is that he doesn't play against a high level of competition.  Those who have seen him live and in the flesh, know that Spencer will be an enforcer in the Nittany Lion secondary for years to come.

7. A.Q. Shipley- Corapolis, Pa.  (Moon HS)  6-3, 278
* * * * *
"He's going to be tearing through kids if he works hard.  He was lighting kids up up there, left and right." - Greg Harrison on A.Q.'s Michigan State camp performance

A future noseguard at Penn State, A.Q. may be, pound for pound, the strongest player in Pennsylvania.  It may begin to start sounding like a broken record, but A.Q. joins the list of Nittany Lions who named to Student Sports Nike Football Training Camp All-Americans.  On top of that honor, A.Q. was named the eighth best player in the Midwest, just one spot ahead of his good friend Greg Harrison, and 97th player overall in the nation.  Despite what Andrew Johnson says about swaying him from his Penn State commitment, A.Q. will not follow a man in a pink unless he's wearing rolled up trousers.

8. Jed Hill - Struthers, Oh.  (Struthers HS)  6-4, 247
* * * * *
"He said that (Jed') a freak of nature.  He's a mammoth.  There's no body fat on him.  He's just something else." - Coach Gary Zetts recounting Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's comments

Jed fills at least a part of Penn State's dire need for a tight end in this class.  A true unknown coming into the summer, Jed received the only offer he really wanted during Penn State's summer camp.  He should have a big senior year after missing his junior year with hand and ankle injuries.

9. Mike Lucian- Frederick, Md.  (Lingalore HS)  6-3, 247
* * * * *
A versatile big man, Mike projects for a couple different positions on the college level.  He plays tight end in high school, but Mike could get a look at defensive end, defensive tackle, or offense line in college.  Mike's position is contingent on his physical maturation over the next year (his dad is 6'6'' or 6'7''), but he's hoping he gets a shot somewhere on the defensive line.  TheInsiders Atlantic Region analyst ranks Mike as the number twelve player in Maryland next year.

10. Dan Lawlor- Mechanicsburg, Pa.  (Cumberland Valley HS)  6-3, 235
* * * * *
A well rounded fullback, Dan's coach compares him favorably to former CVHS star Jon Ritchie.  It appeared that Dan was leaning toward Notre Dame during the early period of his recruitment, but with teammate Wyatt Bowman extolling the virtues of Penn State on a daily basis, Dan couldn't help but see the light of day.  With Sean McHugh and Paul Jefferson (unless he redshirts) on the roster, Dan could be a prime candidate for very early playing time.

11. Austin Hinton- Secaucus, Nj.  (Secaucus HS)  6-4, 280
* * * * *
Austin's name first surfaced when Tom Lemming named him as the preseasons #13 overall tackle.  While the Lemster may not be the recruiting god that he perceives himself to be, he did recognize Austin's quickness and tremendous footwork.  Austin gives Penn State another agile offensive lineman, most likely beginning his career at guard.  LionNews' MarshCreek talked with a coach who worked with Austin at Penn State camp and he said that Hinton is a very athletic, but raw offensive lineman.  After a redshirt year, Austin should be ready to block for another Austin.

12. Mark Rubin- Amherst, Ny.  (Amherst HS)  6-4, 210
* * * * *
"Coach (Dick) Anderson said that I reminded him of Joe Jurevicus.  That's great to be mentioned with a great receiver like that." - Mark, explaining Penn State's offensive line coach's comments

Mark did not have any major D1 offers (just MAC cellar dweller Buffalo) heading into summer camp season.  In a short time period, Rubin wowed the coaches at Boston College, Syracuse, and Penn State enough that each coaching staff offered him a scholarship.  Mark, a long time Penn State fan, decided to jump on the Nittany Lions' offer almost immediately, despite keeping it a secret until he could tell Syracuse.  A tall receiver, Mark has lowered his 40 yard speed from the 4.6 range last season, down to the 4.45 area now.  Some more skeptical "fans" may be calling Mark a stretch, but for someone who has not focused his complete attention on football yet, his future looks very bright.

13. Trent Varva- Lake Orion, Mi.  (Lake Orion HS)  6-3, 300
* * * * *
"He's a mauler.  He's got the size, speed, and strength and he uses it.  There's no messing around." - Lake Orion HS coach Chris Bell on Trent

While Trent's critics say he may have maxed out his potential, especially compared to teammate and Michigan commit, Will Johnson, he's a great get for the Nittany Lions.  If you have seen film of both Will and Trent, you'll why the coaching staff is thoroughly excited about this youngster.  Another quick and tough lineman, Trent brings versatility to the line--he can play center or guard for the Nittany Lions.

14. Rich Ohrnberger- East Meadow, Ny.  (East Meadow HS)  6-3, 275
* * * * *
"Coach Anderson said to me, when he was watching him move and watching him do the things he was asking him to do, he kept seeing Mike Munchak." - East Meadow HS coach Vinny Macia

A candidate to play either offensive line or defensive line, Rich was an unknown heading into this year because he only weighed in the ballpark of 220 pounds.  After adding 55 pounds through hard work and maturation, Rich was able to keep his 4.9 speed despite the additional weight.  Although Rich had offers from Syracuse and Boston College, he jumped at the Penn State offer. Both Coach Anderson and Coach Johnson will be fighting for Rich in the future.  He's a solid, blue collar tough guy.

15. Josh Gaines- Fort Wayne, In.  (Northrup HS)  6-3, 255
* * * * *
"There aren't too many kids at 260 pounds who can do what he can do athletically." - Northrup HS coach Matt Stinson on Josh from Fort Wayne's The News-Sentinal
Talk about a perfect example of "mother knows best," Josh admitted to LionNews that his mom wanted him to go to Penn State while his dad favors Michigan State.  Josh's commitment came as a bit of a surprise, but after visiting Penn State his whole family fell in love with what the Nittany Lions could offer him.  A jumbo athlete, Josh can play multiple positions but defensive end or tight end seem to be his likely either/or final destinations.  Penn State is one team that really likes Josh as a tight end, but his versatility certainly doesn't hurt him in the coaches' eyes.

16. Dan Connor- Wallingford, Pa.  (Strath Haven HS)  6-3, 215
* * * * *
"Dan Connor is a throw-back football player.  Watch him on film and you can picture him in the 1950's with the black high-tops and tape all over his body." - TheInsiders Midwest analysts Chris Pool on Dan

The best linebacker to come from Pennsylvania in a long time (maybe since Lavar Arrington), Dan chose the Nittany Lions earlier this week over Notre Dame and Penn State.  Dan has been on D1 radars since early in his career, helping lead Strath Haven HS to three straight Pennsylvania AAA Championship games.  An athletic linebacker with tremendous aggressiveness, Dan plays like the son of a coach, exhibiting text book fundamentals.  Dan steps into a great situation at linebacker for Penn State with six 'backers graduating in the next two seasons.  Dan is poised for early playing in the Blue and White.

more to come........

Quarterback:  Scholarship Breakdown
With no quarterback having been signed for two consecutive years, Penn State made it a priority to get at least one quarterback this year--a certain you know who. With him choosing to go elsewhere, the Penn State coaching staff finds itself in the unenvitable position of making something out of nothing. One of the candidates listed below could be the Nittany Lions next target. At least there are still six months left in recruiting and an excellent situation for the staff to sell a quarterback or quarterbacks.

Mike Bernhard- Allentown, Pa.  (William Allen HS)  6-4, 225
Bush Hamdan- Arlington, Va.  (Bishop Denis J. O'Connell HS)  6-1, 200
*Chad Henne- West Lawn, Pa. (Wilson HS) 6-3, 220
[verbal - Michigan]
William Richardson- Sumter, Sc.  (Sumter HS)  6-5, 210
Bryan Savage- Haverford, Pa.  (The Haverford School)  6-4, 210 [verbal - Wisconsin]
Nick Skeparnias- York, Pa.  (Suburban HS)  6-2, 195
Jordan Steffy- Lancaster, Pa. (Conestoga Valley HS) 6-1, 194
Mike Teel- Ramsey, Nj.  (Don Bosco Prep)  6-3, 205
[verbal - Rutgers]
Anthony Turner - Dayton, Oh.  (Chaminade-Julienne HS)  6-3, 205

Running Back:  Scholarship Breakdown
Penn State looks to be finished with its recruiting for the backfield, unless an Austin Scott-like player would seemingly emerge from nowhere.

Brandon Ore- Chesapeake, Va.  (Indian River HS)  6-1, 195
Brandon, who hails from former Penn Stater James Boyd's alma mater, claims a Nittany Lion offer along with Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  According to Roanoke Times columnist Doug Doughty, Brandon is leaning toward Virginia Tech to play his college ball.
Kaysonne Anderson- Manasquan, Nj.  (Manasquan HS)  5-11, 185
* Thomas Brown- Tucker, Ga.  (Tucker HS)  5-10, 185
[verbal - Georgia]
Jean Beljour- Hackensack, Nj.  (Hackensack HS)  6-0, 195, 4.5
Anthony Heygood- Springfield, Pa. (Cardinal O'Hara HS)  6-1, 210
(FB) Chris Pressley- Woodbury, Nj.  (Woodbury HS)  6-1, 255
(FB) Tom Walls- West Deptford, Nj.  (West Deptford HS)  6-2, 240

Wide Receiver:  Scholarship Breakdown
It appears that the Nittany Lions will take just one wide receiver.  The other players on their list may be better qualified as athletes.

Dwayne Jarrett- New Brunswick, Nj.  (New Brunswick HS)  6-6, 205

In the Randy Moss mold of wide receivers, Dwayne has not received an offer yet because he has not met with the coaching staff.   Pittsburgh and Virginia have been most involved with Dwayne, who may be the most talented receiver on the east coast.

* Brandon Barrett- Martinsburg, Wv.  (Martinsburg HS)  6-1, 180
Michael Bell- Shaker Heights, Oh.  (Shaker Heights HS)  6-1, 180 [verbal - Michigan State]
* Fred Davis- Toledo, Oh.  (Rogers HS)  6-4, 210
* Doug Dutch- Washington, Dc.  (Gonzaga HS)  6-0, 200
* Chris Ogbonnaya- Houston, Tx.  (Strake Jesuit HS)  6-1, 200
[verbal - Texas]

Tight End:  Scholarship Breakdown
With three former walk-on seniors manning the position, the Nittany Lions have made it a priority to address this position.  The addition of Jed Hill helps tremendously, especially because of his athleticism.  The Nittany Lions would love to grab one more marquee guy and his name is Rory Nicol, but there are other players in case he goes elsewhere.

Jason Chapman- Bedford, Oh.  (Bedford HS)  6-4, 240
* * *
Jason told LionNews that he has a Penn State offer, but that may be contigent on him picking up his grades a bit.  Right now, along with Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, Jason seems to have the most interest in Cincinnati--the Big East's new darling (add laughter here), who will gamble with in-state Ohioans on the cusp of qualification.

Rory Nicol- Beaver, Pa.  (Beaver HS)  6-5, 245
* * * *
Pennsylvania's top tight end, Rory was once thought to be a Nittany Lion lock.  While other teams, like North Carolina and Tennessee have really gained on Penn State, Rory has made a promise to Nittany Lion d-coordinator Tom Bradley that he will take his last official visit to Penn State.  If Penn State is able to land the top talent in Pennsylvania, especially western Pennsylvania, like most expect, Rory could be the cherry on top of a great group.  He is friends with Dontey Brown, Tyrell Sales, and A.Q. Shipley.  Although Penn State has already received a commitment from a tight end (Jed Hill), Rory remains their number player on the board at the position.

* Chad Hoobler- Carrollton, Oh.  (Carrollton HS)  6-4, 220
[verbal - Ohio State]
Craig McGovern- Princeton, Nj.  (The Hun School)  6-5, 235
Ryan Purvis- Lancaster, Pa.  (Lancaster Catholic HS)  6-5, 235

Offensive Line:  Scholarship Breakdown
Penn State has verbals from five offensive lineman.  One more may be taken, especially a tackle or center.

Ell Ash- Willingboro, Nj.  (Willingboro HS)  6-6, 275
* * *
Another athletic lineman, Ell has the potential to play offense or defense in college.  He and his father have already visited Penn State unofficially, but Ell does not appear in hurry to make his decision.  His coach, Nelson Hayspell, considers Ell a Penn State type kid--very humble and polite.  Hayspell is familiar with Penn State, having been the offensive line coach when former Nittany Lion and current New York Jet, Kareem McKenzie, played there in the late nineties.

Brandon Braxton- Youngstown, Oh.  (Ursuline HS)  6-7, 305
* * *
A massive offensive tackle, Brandon very well could be the top lineman in Ohio this year.  While Ohio State must always be considered a player for Ohio recruits, Brandon should not be considered a Buckeye lock just yet.  Braxton will take all his visits before he decides.  He currently lists schools like Florida State, Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia, Penn State, Michigan State and Notre Dame as his favorites.  Brandon visited Penn State unofficially this summer, so getting an official might not be a necessity to win him out.

Gerald Cadogan- Portsmouth, Oh.  (Portsmouth HS)  6-7, 290
* * * *
A huge lineman from Ohio, Gerald combines athletics and academics (plans to major in biology with a shot at pre-med) that would make any mother proud.  Just recently, GoBlueWolverine did an update Gerald, who said Michigan is his leader with only Northwestern and Wake Forest in contention.  That's not entirely accurate anymore.  Despite the fact that Penn State has five offensive line commitments, the Nittany Lions have re-entered the fray after a chat with Jay Paterno.  Michigan may still be on top, but Penn State has done a good job of getting him to slow down his decision making process and reevaluate his favorites.  Gerald is a true tackle, who after redshirt year to get stronger, will be a very nice Big Ten type offensive lineman.

Leon Hart- Columbia, Sc.  (Spring Valley HS)  6-5, 285
* * *
Although it would unwise to bet against home state schools South Carolina or Clemson, Penn State has really piqued the interest of Leon in the last month.  Just in recent years alone, Penn State has had great success in South Carolina, landing Courtney Brown, Kinta Palmer, Mike Gasparato, and Rodney Kinlaw, just to name a few.  According to a recent article by, Leon has trimmed his list to seven and will be deciding after his visits.

Alex Fletcher- Melville, Ny.  (St. Anthony's HS)  6-4, 275
It seemed as though Penn State might steal one back from Stanford, when Alex asked LionNews for a chance to vent about Stanford's molassas-like admissions process.  The Cardinal admissions people finally got their act together and Alex reaffirmed his commitment to Stanford.  Is he completely solid?  Probably, but rumors were quite strong that the Nittany Lions were making a strong push for Fletch'.  He will certainly open a hole or two for former Penn State commit Jason Evans on their way to a National Championship.  Oh wait!  Neither Alex or Jason play baseball......Good luck to Alex on the Farm.

Kyle Mitchum- Erie, Pa.  (McDowell HS)  6-5, 265
* *
One of the biggest surprises of the month was Kyle Mitchum's interest in Penn State cooling.  Just about everyone has a theory about why Kyle soured so much on Penn State, but for now, only Kyle and the coaching staff know what happened.  Kyle did not want to explain it to Steve Curry and by NCAA regulations, college coaches cannot comment on recruits.  Although Mitchum doesn't appear like he'll be a Nittany Lion right now, Penn State is not completely out of it for him--other schools like Ohio State, Iowa, and pesky Virginia have the upper hand though.

Nyere Aumaitre- Camden, Nj.  (Woodrow Wilson HS)  6-5, 310
Craig Bokor- Aliquippa, Pa.  (Hopewell HS)  6-4, 275
[verbal - Pittsburgh]
Scott Burley- Baltimore, Md.  (Woodlawn HS)  6-5, 325
[verbal - Maryland]
Ryan Ehrie- Bethleham, Pa.  (Freedom HS)  6-7, 285
[verbal - Syracuse]
Carlos Feliciano - Elizabeth, Nj.  (Elizabeth HS)  6-5, 280
Ben Iannachione- Pittsburgh, Pa.  (Baldwin HS)  6-4, 285
[verbal - West Virginia]
Jim Jadron- Joliet, Il.  (Joliet Catholic Academy)  6-5, 280
* Steve Rehring- West Chester, Oh.  (Lakota West HS)  6-8, 320
[verbal - Ohio State]
Jon Skinner- Mount Carmel, Pa.  (Mount Carmel HS)  6-6, 270
[verbal - Ohio State]
Nick Smith- Canton, Oh.  (Glen Oak HS)  6-6, 285
Jaimie Thomas- Harrisburg, Pa.  (Bishop McDevitt HS)
Phil Trautwein- Voorhees, Nj.  (Eastern HS)  6-6, 285

Defensive Line:  Scholarship Breakdown
In two years, under the tutelage of Larry Johnson, Sr., Penn State could have the top defensive line in America.  With young players at each position, the Nittany Lions needed to add depth, specifically at tackle.  The additions of A.Q. Shipley and Mike Lucian have addressed those needs quite well.  Ohrnberger can also play defense.

Demonte Bolden- Chattanooga, Tn.  (Tyner HS)  6-4, 295
Once considered a strong Tennessee verbal commitment, Demonte now claims he hopes to visit Penn State, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama in addition to the Volunteers.  Demonte ranks as TheInsiders #3 ranked defensive tackle, despite playing defensive end in high school.  While he remains somewhat of a longshot to become a Nittany Lion, Demonte became interested in Penn State after seeing the names of Jimmy Kennedy, Michael Haynes, and Anthony Adams--all former Nittany Lion defensive lineman--called during the first day of the NFL Draft this spring.

* Shukree Barfield- Camden, Nj.  (Camden HS)  6-4, 285
[verbal - Clemson]
George Covington- Greenbelt, Md.  (Roosevelt HS)  6-3, 230
Olu Hall- Fairfax, Va.  (Robinson Secondary HS)  6-4, 240, 4.8
Marquee Hall- Marshville, Nc.  (Forest Hills HS)  6-5, 305
Brigham Harwell- Hacienda Heights, Ca.  (Los Altos HS)  6-3, 250 [verbal - Ucla]
* Will Johnson- Lake Orion, Mi.  (Lake Orion HS)  6-5, 278
[verbal - Michigan]
Lawrence Miles- La Quinta, Ca.  (La Quinta HS)  6-3, 260
*Dane Randolph- Wilde Lake, Md.  (Wilde Lake HS)  6-4, 245
[verbal - Maryland]
* Chris Rogers- Wexford, Pa.  (North Alleghany HS)  6-3, 240
[verbal - Michigan]
Nhemie Theodore- Irvington, Nj.  (Irvington HS)  6-4, 285

Linebacker:  Scholarship Breakdown
Penn State needs at least two outside linebacker and one middle linebacker in this group.

J.J. Justice- Norwich, Ct.  (Norwich Free Academy HS)  6-1, 215
* * * *
This is J.J.'s first appearance in the Lion's Lounge, despite the fact that he popped up back in March.  At that point, it thought that schools were after him solely as a quarterback.  After some bulking up and summer camp stops, all the schools recruiting him want him to play an outside linebacker or safety for them.  According to J.J.'s father, Maryland and Penn State have both offered him and both have distanced themselves from the pack.

Tyrell Sales- Butler, Pa.  (Butler HS)  6-4, 225
* * * *
Those who watched the Big 33 game on TV may have seen a big guy with a throw back San Diego Chargers jersey on the Pennsylvania sideline.  That was none other than Tyrell Sales, who had his picture taken by the godfather of LionNews, Steve Curry.  With all do respect to Tyrell (who I'm sure can get the women), he just doesn't look good in blue or yellow.  Most observers still feel that Tyrell will likely come down to Penn State and Pittsburgh, eventhough both Notre Dame and Virginia are now being mentioned with more frequency.  Rumors circulated recently that his parents like Penn State and it's only a matter of time until he pulls the trigger.

Purnell Sturdivant- Norfolk, Va.  (Lake Taylor HS)  5-11, 210
* * *
A freakish athlete from current Penn Stater Terrell Golden's hometown, Purnell has the ability to play anywhere from running back to to linebacker to strong safety to cornerback.  With a 4.42 forty, 3.88 shuttle, and 44 inch vertical, Purnell's future looks destined for defense. Penn State has not yet sent Sturdivant a written offer, but according to Purnell, the Nittany Lions have offered verbally.  Not expected to make an early commitment, he will be a player to keep an eye on this season.

Brian Toal- Ramsey, Nj.  (Don Bosco Prep)  6-2, 228
* *
In LionNews most recent interview with Brian, he indicated that while Penn State still has a shot at him, he's taken his college search in a somewhat different direction.  Realistically the Lions are hanging on by the hair holding on by the hair of Beano Cook's chiny chin chin chin chin chin chin.  Notre Dame, Miami (Fl), and Boston College seem to have the upperhand for Brian. But don't count out the upstart Iowa Hawkeyes or Maryland Terps in this race.  Toal, the number one prospect in New Jersey, will not make any kind of decision until January at the earliest.

Kyle Williams- Bolingbrook, Il.  (Bolingbrook HS)  6-2, 220
* *
Kyle keeps telling folks that he's headed to Penn State for an unofficial visit, but for some reason or another, things just don't work out.  Widely considered one of the top linebackers in the country, Kyle was recently ranked as the number one player in the Midwest region by TheInsiders' Chris Pool.  Unlike Brian Toal, landing another highly skilled linebacker would actually improve a school's chance with Kyle, who specifically mentioned Dan Connor the last time LionNews spoke with him (July 1st). Iowa, who signed his friend A.J. Johnson last February, still leads, followed by schools like Oregon, Miami, USC, and an ever changing list of favorites.

Roger Allison- Lake Orion, Mi.  (Lake Orion HS)  6-2, 230
[verbal - Michigan]
Eric Andino- Buffalo Grove, Il.  (Buffalo Grove HS)  6-4, 220
Devonta Brown- Charlottesville, Va.  (Charlottesville HS)  6-2, 235
Sam Carson- Downers Grove, Il.  (Downers Grove South HS)  6-2, 225
Mark Hicks- Baltimore, Md.  (Edmondson-Westside HS)  6-1, 225
Scott McKillop- Vandergrift, Pa.  (Kiski Area HS)  6-2, 215
[verbal - Pittsburgh]
Chris Patterson- Chicago, Il.  (Hubbard HS)  6-3, 225
Brian Raike- Ewing, Nj.  (Ewing HS)  6-2, 235
Brian Tracz- Philadelphia, Pa.  (St. Joseph's Prep)  6-2, 235
Vernon Wilder- Miami, Fl.  (Carol City HS)  6-0, 235

Defensive Back:  Scholarship Breakdown
Penn State has verbals from two fine defensive backs (Tony Davis and Spencer Ridenhour), but with some depth issues, especially with the uncertainty regarding Anwar Phillips return, the Nittany Lions may be in a position to sign one or two more.  
Cornerback is the definite priority and don't be shocked if Penn State is involved with a couple prospects that no one has uncovered yet.

D.J. Davis- Fort Worth, Tx.  (Dunbar HS)  6-1, 180
* * *
One of the most interesting recruiting stories of the year, D.J. has an intense interest in Penn State in one update but a fading one in the next.  His roller coaster ride has been consistent all year.  One of the best athletes in Texas, D.J. has been linked more to Texas A&M than any other school.  An unconfirmed rumor has D.J. coming up for an early official visit to Penn State during the season, similiar to Jorrie Adams and Red Bryant last season.

Leo Ferrine- East Orange, Nj.  (St. Peter's HS)  6-0, 180
* * * *
Leo, the cousin of Nittany Lion safety coach Brian Norwood, has a verbal offer from Penn State.  Although he admitted that in a perfect world, he would go to a school in a warm weather climate.  Leo has offers from Rutgers, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.  The speedster says that Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Notre Dame are on top.

Devon Lyons- Pittsburgh, Pa.  (Woodland Hills HS)  6-2, 205
* *
Ryan Mundy's understudy last season, Devon will need to step it up this season to keep Woodland Hills HS at the top of the WPIAL heap.  A silky smooth receiver and free safety, Devon has worked hard in the offseason to put on good weight.  Although LionNews has not spoken to Devon since the Nike Camp, he seems to have a new found interest in Penn State, although the Nittany Lions are not as high as Notre Dame, Ohio State, or Michigan State.  Pittsburgh seems to be out of the picture after Miami (Fl.) and Virginia Tech left the conference holding the bag.

Darelle Revis- Aliquippa, Pa.  (Aliquippa HS)  6-0, 180
* * *
Aliquippa is a strange place.  It's the Bermuda Triangle of Pennsylvania.  Why you ask?  Not one recruiting analyst has been able to talk with Darelle about recruiting, so everything known about him is either second hand information or pure speculation. Pennsylvania's top cover corner, Darelle is the nephew of former Pitt defensive tackle, Sean Gilbert, so many feel the Panthers have the best shot.  It doesn't hurt that Coach Mike Zmijanac has never been mistaken for a Penn State fan.  There is one reason for Penn State fans to remain slightly positive--Darelle is friends with Rory Nicol, Tyrell Sales, and some of the other western Pennsylvania recruits.

Anthony Vernaglia- Orange, Ca.  (Lutheran HS)  6-3, 215
* * * *
Once the Nittany Lions were thought to be dead for the services of Anthony, but some phone calls to Tom Bradley has had Penn State soaring from the ashes like a blue and white phoenix.  The son of former Nittany Lion, Kip Vernaglia, Anthony has basically narrowed his choices down to Virginia, Notre Dame, and Penn State.  A versatile athlete, each school is recruiting Anthony for a different position (UVa - wide receiver, ND - linebacker, and Psu - safety).  During LionNews' most recent interview with Vernaglia, he was enthusiastic about the opportunity to play Shawn Mayer's safety position in the Penn State secondary.  He should have a decision done by the middle of September.

Kevin Akins- Lansdale, Pa.  (North Penn HS)  6-2, 180
[verbal - Boston College]
* Ted Ginn- Cleveland, Oh.  (Grenville HS)  6-1, 170
Donta Herrod- Washington, Dc.  (Woodson HS)  6-2, 180
Mortty Ivy- Monroeville, Pa.  (Gateway HS)  6-2, 200
[verbal - West Virginia]
Christian Varner- Randallstown, Md.  (Randallstown HS)  5-11, 180
* Brandon Underwood- Hamilton, Oh.  (Hamilton HS)  6-1, 170
[verbal - Ohio State]

Specialists: Scholarship Breakdown
Penn State will probably not take a scholarship kicker this season.  Jeremy Kapinos will be just a redshirt freshman, while Robbie Gould is a junior.  The Nittany Lions may take a walk-on specialist with the intentions of giving him a scholarship somewhere down the road.

Chris Gould- Lock Haven, Pa.  (Central Mountain HS)  5-11, 180

The brother of the aforementioned Nittany Lions kicker, Robbie Gould, Chris already has an offer from Pittsburgh.  Some central Pennsylvania observers have said that Chris may be a more powerful kicker than his brother.  Will he follow him without a scholarship?  Time will tell.

Gerry McGroarty- Wilkes-Barre, Pa.  (Bishop Hoban HS)  6-1, 180

Gerry has received interest from a couple D1 schools, including Penn State, Boston College, and Buffalo, Gerry has a very powerful leg.  He remains interested in Penn State, despite the lack of a scholarship offer.

This material is premium and cannot be discussed in any public forum without the express written approval of LionNews.  If you have any questions or information relevent to future columns, please feel free to email me at or send a ezBoard message to me at my username, Jst10.

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