FOS Recruiting Report: LBs

Penn State is rekindling the tradition of Linebacker U through players like Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor. Now, Ron Vanderlinden is looking for two more high-end prospects to maintain the high level of play that Penn State fans have come to expect from the Nittany Lion linebacking corps

Linebacker

Bani Gbadyu (6-1, 210, 4.5, Quince Orchard HS, Gaithersburg, MD)

Bani Gbadyu arrived in the United States from Liberia in 1999 having played soccer for most of his life. He decided to try his hand at football as a freshman at Quince Orchard, and the rest is history. Gbadyu has become one of the top linebacker prospects in the country.

Last year, Gbadyu recorded 78 tackles, 15 sacks and three fumble recoveries, leading to first-team all-county and all-league recognition. He was almost unstoppable on the pass rush, blazing past would-be blockers on his way to the quarterback. Gbadyu's 4.5 speed gives him a decided advantage at the high school level, and he could play either outside linebacker or safety in college.

Gbadyu was a relative unknown until excellent performances at the Duke Scout Combine and the Elite Combine led to an avalanche of scholarship offers. LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Penn State, and Tennessee are among the big names to offer. Gbadyu is now in the midst of touring the country making unofficial visits to many of the schools that have offered him a scholarship.

Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden are recruiting Gbadyu for Penn State and made a visit to Quince Orchard during the Spring Evaluation Period. Gbadyu recently returned the favor and visited Penn State. He came away from the visit completely impressed with everything he saw in Happy Valley and especially enjoyed meeting Joe Paterno.

Gbadyu discussed his meeting with Paterno during an interview with CUTigers.com's Robert Thorne, saying "He is still young. We talked about life. He said that he wanted me to play football for Penn State."

During his visit, Gbadyu also had the chance to meet fellow Liberian Tamba Hali. It's not often that either player has the chance to talk about their war-stricken homeland with someone who truly understands. Gbadyu is in the process of creating a final list of five schools. He has no timetable for a commitment at the moment.

Navorro Bowman (6-1, 218, 4.7, Suitland HS, Forestville, MD)

Navorro Bowman set a standard of excellence in 2004 that he will be hard pressed to equal during his senior season. Bowman was Suitland's star tailback last season, rushing for 1,230 yards and 22 touchdowns. On defense, he made an incredible 165 tackles, 9 sacks, and 3 fumble recoveries.

Bowman was rewarded for his efforts with first-team All-Metro, All-Conference and All-State honors. If those weren't enough, he also won the Maryland Defensive Player of the Year award.

By the end of the spring evaluation period, Bowman had accumulated more than 20 scholarship offers, including Penn State, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. He has yet to visit any school aside from nearby Maryland and is open to every school that is recruiting him.

The Terps had been considered a front-runner for Bowman's services, but scholarship offers from some of the nation's best programs have caused him to take a closer look at other schools, including Penn State. Bowman is being recruited by Larry Johnson and is giving the Lions a serious look, although it may be difficult to convince him to leave ACC country for the Big 10. Bowman plans to take official visits and make a final decision in the winter.

Jeremiha Hunter (6-2, 210, 4.5, transferring from Manheim Central)

Penn State has rebuilt its Linebacker U reputation in large part by signing Pennsylvania's best linebacker prospects over the past three seasons. The coaches are looking to continue the run of recruiting success this year by landing Jeremiha Hunter.

As a junior, Hunter recorded 133 tackles, five interceptions (two of which he returned for a touchdown), five sacks and ten tackles for loss. Hunter also starred on the offensive side of the ball for Manheim Central, rushing for more than 1,100 yards and scoring 24 touchdowns. He led Manheim to the PIAA Class AAA championship game, but a fractured arm suffered in the state semifinals prevented him from playing in the title game.

Hunter has almost fully recovered from the arm injury and judging by the amount of attention he has received from college coaches, no one is concerned about any lingering effects. The only question about Hunter is where he will play his senior season. He has transferred out of Manheim Central and will most likely suit up for one of the Class AAAA schools in the Harrisburg area this fall.

Hunter claims more than 30 scholarship offers at this time and is wide open in his recruitment. He says that Penn State is the school recruiting him the hardest and the Nittany Lions are one of the schools that he is most interested in. Others in Hunter's top group include Connecticut (Hunter's uncle plays for the Huskies), Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee.

When talking about his favorites earlier this spring Hunter said "I…like Penn State a lot. They're a great up-and-coming program and they've got a great recruiting class this past year that'll be coming in. The coaching staff there is also real, real cool."

Hunter is being recruited by Larry Johnson and expects to take all five of his official visits before making a final decision close to Signing Day.

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