Strong Late Push From Nittany Lions

NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE BY SCOUT.COM'S JAMIE NEWBERG: Every recruiting season, there are teams that skyrocket up the recruiting charts during the final stages of the process leading up to National Signing Day. This season Southern Cal will be a sure bet to do just that. Another team that could roar up the recruiting rankings is Penn State.

And their possible late surge could hinge on the decision of six prominent recruits — running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver Vidal Hazelton, tight end Andrew Quarless, offensive lineman Antonio Logan-El, defensive end Maurice Evans and cornerback A.J. Wallace. These are all top prospects at their respective positions.

It seems from the outside looking in that McCoy will likely come down to Penn State and Southern Cal. Logic has him staying home. McCoy, from Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt High, is one of many elite backs knocking on the Trojan door. Leading the way is Stafon Johnson (Los Angeles, Calif.). Johnson, the No. 2 rated running back in the nation, says USC is his leader. C.J. Spiller (Lake Butler, Fla.), McCoy, Michael Goodson (Klein, Texas), C.J. Gable (Sylmar, Calif.), DeMarco Murray (Las Vegas, Nev.), Emmanuel Moody (Coppell, Texas) and Stanley Havili (Salt Lake City, Utah) all have the Trojans at the top of their lists. In fact, McCoy, Goodson, Moody and Havili all have USC as their leader or co-leader. Every one of these top-notch backs is rated among the top 15 in the country. Expect USC to sign at least two of them, one game-breaker and one power type of back, a la Reggie Bush and Len Dale White. Where does that leave McCoy, who is coming off an ankle injury? It would seem Penn State has the edge.

Hazelton, from Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, currently has Penn State and Southern Cal as his two leaders. Miami was on top early for the nation's No. 2 wide receiver, but much has changed for Hazelton. This one could swing either way. Penn State has a lot of young talent at this position but so do the Trojans. But both teams would love to have a receiver like him.

Quarless and Evans are all but publicly committed to Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions. Quarless, from Uniondale (N.Y.), may visit Michigan this weekend, or at least that's the rumor. Regardless, it appears he's Penn State's too lose. The same for Evans, from Middle Village (N.Y.) Christ The King High School. Evans is also showing interest in Virginia.

An intriguing prospect is Logan-El, the offensive lineman from Forrestville (Md.) High. He is considered a soft commitment to Maryland with Tennessee, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida and Tennessee in the mix. There is much speculation that in the end the Nittany Lions could very well be the team to beat.

For Jared Odrick, things have become a little more complicated. Odrick, from Lebanon (Pa.), was long to be considered headed to Happy Valley. But Georgia has made this much closer than Penn State would like and there is a real concern that he could be headed to the Bulldogs instead of the Nittany Lions. Georgia is putting on a full court press for this huge d-line specimen but Penn State is still right there. You have to give a slight edge to the Nittany Lions.

Wallace, a cornerback, would be a great addition to the secondary at Penn State. Wallace, from Pomfret (Md.) McDonough High, says he currently favors the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes but watch out for Florida State. Wallace said last week that Bobby Bowden is scheduled to make an in-home visit with him later this week. That's significant because it seems like the previous in-home visits he has had with other coaches like Jim Tressel have made an impact. And we all know that Bowden is the master of the in-home visit. Will that be enough for FSU? Hard to say. At this point it appears to be a Big Ten battle between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions.

Others will impact the Penn State recruiting situation as well, like running back Evan Royster (Chatilly, Va.), linebacker Jeremiha Hunter (Harrisburg, Pa.), defensive tackle Phillip Taylor (Brandywine, Md.), safety Elijah Fields (Duquesne, Pa.) and offensive linemen Lou Eliades (Oakhurst, N.J.) and J.B. Walton (Indian Head, Pa.). There is also much speculation that Virginia commitments, wide receiver Cedric Jeffries (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.) and linebacker George Johnson (Glassboro, N.J.), could change their minds and sign with Penn State.

These six recruits are all among the top prospects at their respective positions. The other prospects listed are pretty talented as well. What they all do in the end decision-wise will have a huge bearing on where Penn State lands on National Signing Day. More importantly, the Nittany Lions need these impact type prospects to continue their ascension up the talent charts, as Joe Paterno and company continue to try and replenish the cupboard at Penn State.

"Joe Paterno and his staff went into this season with a plan to recruit difference-makers and they are very close to landing a number of them,” said Scout.com Recruiting Analyst Bob Lichtenfels. “The resurrection of Penn State football has sparked the interest of a number of the nation's top recruits and I would expect them to close well and finish with a top 10 class."

These recruiting scenarios will make things very interesting over the next seven weeks. In the end, though, the folks at Penn State should be very happy in Happy Valley.

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