Harvey Levine/FOS

Texas, The Eyes Of Penn State Are Finally Upon You

The Nittany Lions now have two prospects from the Lone Star State in their Class of 2018. Get the lowdown on why that is historically rare for the program.

With the commitment of Manvel defensive back Trent Gordon Wednesday morning, Penn State now has two Texas prospects in its Class of 2018. Gordon joins another DB — Sachse’s Isaiah Humphries — in James Franklin’s group. 

As impressive as the Nittany Lions’ 12-member class is, ranking second in the nation as of this writing, a lost storyline is that after decades of relative inactivity in the state, Penn State is FINALLY starting to make a bit of headway in Texas. Assistant Terry Smith (shown above) is leading the charge. http://www.scout.com/college/football/recruiting/story/1766775-gordon-ma...

There will always be debates about which state produces the most FBS talent each year, and you can pretty much spin the numbers to make several look the best. But there is no arguing the fact that year in and year out, Texas is among the top three states at generating major college football players.

With that in mind, the Nittany Lions’ inability to seriously crack the Lone Star State until now has been a head-scratcher.

Consider that if Gordon and Humphries both follow through on their commitments and end up signing and then playing at Penn State, they will be only the third and fourth Texans to do so in the last quarter of a century. 

Since 1985 — more than three decades — a grand total of four Texas high school players have signed with PSU and ended up playing in Happy Valley*. The Lions also received a transfer from a Texan.

Of those five players, three had significant ties to Penn State and/or the Eastern or Midwestern regions. (As an aside, of PSU's current commits from Texas, Humphries is the son of former Lion DB Leonard Humphries while Gordon has not previous ties to the program.)

Here is a look back at those prospects, in reverse chronological order.

K/P Anthony Fera, 2009, Cypress

Though he played his high school ball in the Houston suburb of Cypress, Fera was born in Philadelphia and still had family in Pennsylvania when he signed with Penn State. Ironically enough (as you will learn a few players down), Fera would end up transferring to Texas when the Nittany Lions were hit with NCAA sanctions in 2012.

DB D'Anton Lynn, 2008, Celina

Lynn was recruited by then-PSU assistant Brian Norwood, who had previously been an assistant at Texas Tech. When Norwood left the Penn State staff for Baylor late in 2007, Lynn initially thought about de-committing. But he stuck with the Lions. At the time, his father (Anthony) was an assistant coach with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is an easy drive (four hours) to State College. (Anthony Lynn is now head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers and D'Anton is a defensive assistant.)

DB Shino Prater, 1993, Arlington

Prater played for a high school football powerhouse (Sam Houston) that sent 13 players from his senior class to Division I schools. He was intent on going out of state to play his college ball. He originally committed to Washington but flipped to Penn State when the Lions made a late offer.

OL Matt McCartin, 1987, Highland Park

Hailing from the Dallas suburb of Highland Park, McCartin began his career at SMU, which was within walking distance of his home. But he wanted to continue his football career after the Mustangs received the NCAA death penalty in 1987. He ended up picking Penn State over Texas, the team he followed growing up.

OL Steve Wisniewski, 1985, Houston

Wisniewski spent a good portion of his youth in the Pittsburgh area. In fact, his older brother Leo — a defensive lineman who was a team captain at PSU in 1981 — played his high school ball at Fox Chapel High. 

*Brian Norwood’s youngest son, Levi, signed with Penn State in February of 2010. The younger Norwood began his high school career at State College Area High but completed it at Midway High in Waco, Texas. Citing personal reasons, Levi Norwood asked to be released from his PSU letter of intent in May of 2010. The Lions agreed and he ended up following his father to Baylor.

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