I said in our last report that defensive end is the most critical need for this recruiting class and nothing has happened since May to change my mind. It's obvious from the quantity and quality of defensive end prospects being recruited by Penn State that the coaches also consider this position crucial to the team's future success.
Maurice Evans (6-3, 252, 4.7, Christ the King Regional HS, Middle Village, NY)
Maurice Evans became one of the hottest prospects in the country during the spring, but Penn State was well ahead of the learning curve for this talented defensive end prospect. Brian Norwood and Larry Johnson liked Evans enough to offer him a scholarship in late January, well before most of the heavy hitters that have offered since got into the picture.
Evans racked up nearly 90 tackles and 16 sacks as a junior, earning second-team all-city and second team All-Queens honors. He was also honored by the Catholic High School Football League as one of its top players.
Evans visited the Penn State campus for a Junior Day back in February. He gave his impressions of that visit to Scout's Bob Lichtenfels, saying "It was nice at Penn State. It's a quiet town, a football town. They have a really nice campus; it's just a real nice area there."
Evans liked what he saw enough to make a return visit on June 18 to get a closer look at the facilities and to speak with the coaches and players in-depth about the program. Penn State has plenty of competition for Evans, including two-time defending national champion USC, Miami, Notre Dame, and Virginia, the first school to offer a scholarship.
Evans has no timetable for making a decision and could commit at any time if he feels comfortable with a particular school.
Aaron Maybin (6-3, 220, 4.67, Mount Hebron HS, Ellicott City, MD)
Aaron Maybin is one of many talented Maryland natives that Penn State is recruiting this year. Last season, Maybin recorded 79 tackles including 26 for a loss and nine sacks. He also forced two fumbles and recovered three others.
In addition to being a highly recruited football player, Maybin is also an accomplished wrestler, winning the county and regional championships and placing fourth in the state this year.
Penn State was one of three schools to offer Maybin a scholarship prior to the end of April, but recruiting really began to pick up for him after a stellar performance at the Penn State Nike Camp.
Maybin clocked in at 4.64 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 4.3 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle. He also recorded a 36 inch vertical leap and completed 17 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press. While those measurables are impressive, Maybin really stood out during the one-on-one trench drills where he proved nearly unblockable.
Larry Johnson is recruiting Maybin for Penn State and will have to fend off the likes of Auburn, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State and Virginia in order to add him to the Nittany Lions' Class of 2006.
Jared Odrick (6-6, 285, 5.0, Lebanon HS, Lebanon, PA)
The defensive end that the coaching staff appears to want the most is Jared Odrick from Lebanon. Odrick is one of the top five prospects in the state this year after making more than 80 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks in 2004. He also recorded more than 60 pancake blocks on the offensive line. Odrick was the lone bright spot for a 2-8 Lebanon squad.
The fact that he played for a losing team has not hurt his recruiting interest from colleges across the country one bit. Odrick currently holds more than 40 scholarship offers and is one of the best defensive line prospects in the nation. He is currently in the process of reducing his list of schools to a more manageable 15, and Penn State is certain to make the cut.
When Odrick spoke to Scout's Allen Wallace earlier this spring, he gave one major positive in Penn State's favor. "I really like Coach Johnson at Penn State," Odrick said. "He's a great guy. He writes me every other day. I get a real strong sense that they want me as part of their everyday life over there, and not just football. Coach Johnson is a real honest man and he's told me nothing but the truth about the program and how he sees me in it. I get a strong feeling of loyalty from them."
Odrick plans to make unofficial visits to as many schools on his list as possible this summer and will then take official visits this winter before coming to a final decision. Penn State is in excellent position with Odrick, and a strong 2005 season could catapult them to the top of his list.
Adam Patterson (6-3, 255, 4.85, Richland Northeast HS, Columbia, SC)
Penn State has had a history of success recruiting South Carolina and the coaching staff is trying to land another talented prospect from the Gamecock State this year in Adam Patterson.
As a junior, Patterson made 61 tackles, with seven for a loss, six sacks, and two forced fumbles. He already has the size to play defensive end at the next level, but he is a raw talent. Patterson has only played football for two years but his athleticism and potential have earned him more than 20 scholarship offers.
Bill Kenney is recruiting Patterson for Penn State and the Nittany Lions are one of 10 finalists for Patterson's services. He is tentatively planning to trim his list to five by December and then officially visit each school before making a commitment close to Signing Day.
Brian Whitmore (6-4, 240, 4.6, Oscar Smith HS, Chesapeake, VA)
Virginia has become a football recruiting hotbed in recent years, and this year, Penn State is looking to sign one of the state's best defenders, Brian Whitmore. In 2004, Whitmore racked up 75 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, one interception, and three fumble recoveries. After the season, Whitmore was named first team All-District (offense), second team All-District (defense), and honorable mention All-State.
Whitmore earned 20 scholarship offers by the end of the Spring Evaluation Period including offers from nearly every ACC school and Big Ten powers Penn State and Ohio State. He recently trimmed his list to eight schools and Penn State made the cut.
Whitmore considers his eight finalists even but he did mention earlier in the spring that Virginia Tech, Miami and Penn State are three teams he liked growing up. Bill Kenney and Larry Johnson are recruiting Whitmore for Penn State. Both coaches visited Oscar Smith High School during the spring.
To this point in the recruiting process, Whitmore has only visited the Virginia schools. He expects to make some unofficial visits to see more of his favorites this summer.