A shift in Galen Hall's offensive philosophy has Penn State looking at tight ends as much more than just an extra blocker in the formation. The coaching staff is searching for players that could fill a flex tight end or H-back role in the offense for this recruiting class. All of the players listed below are lighter and faster than the standard Penn State tight end and have the ability to become a valuable weapon in the passing game.
Jeff Cumberland (6-4, 221, 4.47, Brookhaven HS, Columbus, OH)
A relative newcomer to the recruiting scene, Jeff Cumberland emerged as one of Ohio's top prospects after a stellar performance at the Scout All-American Combine in Akron. Cumberland's numbers were off the charts for a player of his size as he ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash, a 4.28 shuttle, and posted a 34-inch vertical. He was an obvious choice for the combine's MVP award.
In 2004, Cumberland caught 19 passes for 375 yards and nine touchdowns in Brookhaven's run-oriented attack, earning All-City and All-District honors. He was also an important member of Brookhaven's 2004-05 Division II state championship basketball team where he played alongside future Nittany Lion hoopster Jamelle Cornley.
Penn State coaches were on hand for the Akron combine and offered Cumberland a scholarship the following week. The Nittany Lions currently reside in Cumberland's top five, but all bets are off if Ohio State decides to offer a scholarship. The Buckeyes rarely lose out on Ohio's best prospects, especially the ones who reside in Columbus.
Drew Gloster (6-4, 225, 4.6, Good Counsel HS, Wheaton, MD)
Drew Gloster was one of the main reasons that Good Counsel played host to some of college football's biggest names this spring, including Joe Paterno.
As a junior, Gloster caught 25 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran back three kickoffs for 111 yards and a touchdown on his way to second team all-Conference and honorable mention All-State honors. Gloster's height and speed will give his college offensive coordinator plenty of opportunities to create mismatches on the field.
Gloster's recruitment exploded during the evaluation period, and he now holds more than 20 scholarship offers. Penn State was one of the first schools to offer and was at or near the top of his list of favorites until a recent update indicated the Nittany Lions may be on the outside looking in. He is being recruited by Larry Johnson and cites his comfort level with the Nittany Lion coaching staff as one of the major reasons why he has such high regard for the program.
Gloster attended a Penn State Junior Day earlier this spring and was impressed by everything he saw in Happy Valley. Shortly after returning home from the Junior Day visit, he told Scout's Bob Lichtenfels "Penn State was tight, I really like it there. The facilities were nice, the stadium was huge, and the weight room was real big." Gloster will make a return visit for the Nittany Lions first-ever Senior Position Camp at the end of June.
Andrew Quarless (6-4, 225, 4.5, Uniondale HS, Uniondale, NY)
Until recently, Andrew Quarless was one of the best kept secrets in college football recruiting. However, even though fans didn't know of Quarless, college coaches were well aware of the talented receiver.
Quarless made 39 receptions for 843 yards and six touchdowns last season for Holy Trinity in New York's Catholic High School Football League, the same league that produced current Nittany Lion fullback Matt Hahn. He also excelled on defense, racking up 50 tackles and 16 sacks. These numbers earned Quarless all-league honors and the CHSFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He has since transferred to Uniondale High School, where he will play his senior season.
Quarless was first discovered by Penn State safeties coach Brian Norwood. The Nittany Lions' recruiting advantage was short-lived, however, as schools from across the nation became aware of Quarless after his family posted an impressive highlight video on the Internet.
He currently holds scholarship offers from Penn State, Nebraska, Virginia, and Wisconsin, but numerous other schools are on the verge of offering. When asked recently by Scout's Bob Lichtenfels about Penn State, Quarless said "I like how they use the tight ends and their offensive scheme. They have a great program."
The Nittany Lion coaches will get an opportunity to see Quarless first-hand when he attends the Penn State Football Camp this month.