Come on in, sit down, have a "beverage," get out of the blazing sun, and relax as I try to answer many of the questions regarding the young recruiting season and how our beloved Nittany Lions are faring. First things first. I have absolutely no "inside info." Many of the things I'm about to tell you will not be fact. To be more specific, they are pure guesses. But like a good math teacher, I will try to show you how I reached my conclusions so they can be construed as educated guesses.
The Lion's Lounge will be available sometime around the first of every month. It's main purpose is to sum up the month's recruiting ups and downs and give each premium subscriber a sense of the direction that the Nittany Lions are heading with their class. So if you have any questions or information that you feel will be relevant to any future columns, please feel free to email me at Jayst12@yahoo.com. Now break out you pencils and notepads because it's time for the main attraction..................(note - all heights, weights, and rankings derived from the Insiders.com database; BOLD = Psu offer)
'Ships available - (0 or 1)
It's only July and the quarterback recruiting story to date, has left just about every Nittany Lion recruitnik scratching their heads. With three quarterbacks on the roster who all have at least 3 years of eligibility remaining, it's understandable if the coaches choose not to sign a signal caller. But until you decide how you will be using that scholarship, at least show consistent interest in your top targets, instead of pushing them away. Here are some of the main targets:
1. Kevin McCabe - Gibsonia, Pa. (Pine-Richland HS) 6-2, 195, 5.12........#20 overall QB
If someone had told me back in February that Kevin McCabe would not even be listing Penn State in his top five on July 1st, I would have laughed in their face. It's true that the son of a former Nittany Lion seems to have put us on the back burner, but then again, it seems the Nittany Lions have not offered. For a while, it looked like Psu and Virginia were running neck and neck for Kevin. Currently, the Cavs seem to hold the distinct advantage over pass happy West Virginia. Kevin has a very nice release, though he needs to work on his foot speed and accuracy. I'm predicting he's a Cav by December.
2. Andre Woodson - Radcliff, Ky. (North Hardin HS) 6-4.5, 220, 4.94........#11 overall QB
Do you think Andre had any idea when he left his Kentucky home for Penn State's Nike Camp that he would unleash a fan frenzy? Andre is a great kid, very humble and well spoken. He also possesses a howitzer for a right arm! At one point, I thought it was a no-brainer that Andre would be the air apparent to either Robinson or Ganter under center for the Nittany Lions. His mom grew up in Pennsylvania, he loved his visit here, and he wowed the coaches and spectators instantly when he threw his first pass in Holuba Hall. But alas, recruiting being a fluid situation, things have seemed to cool between both sides. Rumor has it; we may be waiting to see if he can pull in better grades before the coaching staff really goes after him. I still think we have a decent shot at Andre, but Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana, and West Virginia have all caught up to us.
3. Dave Shinskie - Kulpmont, Pa. (Mount Carmel HS) 6-4, 215, 4.8.......#78 overall QB
Shinskie comes from the same school that produced former Internet darling Jon Veach, who ended up at Princeton. A big kid with a cannon for an arm, Dave draws some comparisons to former Lion, Kerry Collins. For now it seems Penn State is in a holding pattern with Dave, who lists Iowa and Virginia as his leaders, both of whom have offered. If Penn State were to focus their attention on Dave, I am confident he would be a Nittany Lion, but he remains in wait and see mode.
Matt Humbert - Uniontown, Pa. (Laurel Highlands HS) 6-3, 195, 4.7.......no offer, lists Psu as his favorite.
Paul Smith - Owasso, Ok. (Owasso HS) 6-2, 174, 4.7.........would commit to Psu if offered. Has a couple of offers and has spoken to Ou about gray-shirting.
Marcus Stone - Harrisburg, Pa. (Bishop McDevitt HS) 6-4, 225, 4.7........Psu has not offered and Stone is not interested. Could verbal to ND, Maryland, Msu, or N. Carolina St. at any time.
'Ships available - (1 or 2)
We know for fact that Donnie Johnson will line up at tailback this fall. Will Brandon Snow, Chris Wilson, Tim Shaw, and Chris Wilson? Of the aforementioned players, Chris Wilson and Brandon Snow seem like they are the most viable candidates to see some time on offense. Though we have some talent at the position now, there are way too many questions at the tailback because of lack of game playing experience. Our staff looks to like they will try to sign at least two tailbacks. The likely candidates with offers:
1. Jason Evans - Kennesaw, Ga. (Harrison HS) 6-1.5, 190, 4.4........#14 overall RB
Jason visited Penn State this weekend (results of his visit at this time are not known). I know the staff really likes him and his family seems very high on Penn State. With offers from Penn State, Boston College, Texas A&M, and Stanford, he obviously has his academic house in order and would like to decide before his season starts. A recent report from a Nittany Lion in Georgia, who went to hear Kenny Carter speak, stated the coach suggested we would see more recruits from the Peach State, many even one as early as August. Could he be referring to Young Master Evans? Really liked his visit here.....I worry about Stanford a little.
2. Brian Dennison - Jacksonville, Fl. (Mandarin HS) 5-10, 194, 4.4.......#16 overall RB
Brian hails from the same high school as "former internet recruiting message board sweetheart" Cedric Taylor. Unfortunately, the odds of seeing Cedric in Blue and White anytime soon are not real good. With Brian, however, the odds rise dramatically. His father played with former Lion great, Blair Thomas, in high school, but never at Penn State. Brian came along and his father decided the best thing for him to do was provide for his family. I fully expect for Brian to visit State College on an official visit sometime in the fall.
3. Barrington Edwards - Bowie, Md. (Bowie HS) 6-0, 211, 4.48........#2 overall RB
Having seen him at the Nike Camp, this kid plays the part of a pure stud running back very, very well. Along with being rock solid and lightning quick, Barrington possesses leadership skills that make big offensive lineman want to kill people for you. He led the cheers during many of the Nike Camp exercises. The two schools that hold the early lead for his services are Maryland and Georgia. In reality, Georgia may be the main contender because he has family in the area. Maryland, after receiving a verbal from the outstanding Jersey tailback Lance Ball, may not be looking to grab another back in their class. His interest in Penn State currently seems to be waning.
4. Travis Thomas - Washington, Pa. (Washington HS) 6-1, 196, 4.4........#36 overall RB
From the same high school as former Nittany Lion linebacker, Aaron Gatten, Travis earned an offer from Penn State very early in the spring. Based on number of offers alone, he may be the top running back in Pennsylvania for the 2002 season. Along with talent, Travis comes with outstanding grades, making him attractive to any coach. Penn State may have offered Travis as an athlete, recruiting him for both running back and defensive back. He does not seem to have a high interest level in the Lions, but we are still very much in the running for his signature.
5. Kregg Lumpkin - Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephanson HS) 6-1, 190, 4.4........#5 overall RB
Widely considered the top tailback in the state of Georgia this season, Kregg has a boatload of offers to mull over. In recent interviews he has not listed Penn State in his top 5. I would expect him to stay local with his college choice, somewhere in SEC-land.
6. Jerome Jackson - Saginaw, Mi. (Saginaw HS) 6-0, 195, 4.5........#58 overall RB
Jerome has just begun to list the Nittany Lions when asked about his favorite schools. Jerome hails from the same high school as Super Linebacker Lamar Woodley. He's a kid to keep an eye on, especially with Penn State's recent recruiting success in the state of Michigan, under Coach Vanderlinden.
7. Tyrone Moss - Pompano Beach, Fl. (Ely HS) 5-10, 215, 4.5........#4 overall RB
Tyrone can be called a perfect combination of size and speed. Like Jackson and Lumpkin, Moss does not always list Penn State in his list of favorites consistently. JayPa may be able to coax him to guarantee an official visit this fall, but if Miami offers, he may instantly be a Hurricane.
others of note:
Tashard Choice - Jonesboro, Ga. (Lovejoy HS) 5-11, 195, 4.5
Jehuu Caulcrick - Clymer, Ny. (Clymer HS) 6-1, 235, 4.4.......Eye-popping statistics at the Michigan State Nike Camp. Not sure the extent of interest in him on a national level. Plays in the lowest classification in New York State, for a township just northeast of Erie.
'Ships available - (0 or 1)
Penn State will be loaded at wide receiver over the next couple of years, but it never hurts to bring in another homerun hitter. On the current squad, Bryant Johnson is the only player who exhausts his elgibity after 2002. The staff has offered a number of receivers, all of whom embody great size/speed ratios.
1. Chinedum Nduwke - Dublin, Oh. (Coffmann HS) 6-3, 200, 4.5........#34 overall WR
Chinedum plays the part of a big physical wide receiver very well. Hails from the same high school as Super QB Brady Quinn. He has a legitimate interest in Psu, but seems to be enamored with both Notre Dame and Stanford.
2. Derrick Harper - Montclair, Nj. (Montclair HS) 6-2, 180, 4.38........#48 overall WR
Derrick showed up at the Nike Camp and really impressed the spectators. Some of those spectators, i.e., Penn State coaches, loved the kid. It was rumored that Franny personally walked with Derrick into the Beav' during the Blue White Game. However, it should be noted that Derrick has stated he would like to attend school in an urban area. His very good friend happens to be Maryland commit, Lance Ball. I think Derrick heads to College Park.
3. Andrew Weatherly - Georgetown, De. (Sussex HS) 6-4, 200, 4.5........#44 overall WR
Andrew Weatherly, who also attended Nike Camp, has been rumored to have been a Terp commit. For now he claims to remain open and has listed Psu in his top 5. He could possibly be the top player in the state of Delaware for 2002.
4. Terrell Golden - Norfolk, Va. (Lake Taylor HS) 6-4, 205, 4.46........NR @ WR (just added)
Terrell attended the first session of Penn State's summer camp and promptly received an offer from the Coaching Staff. Versatile and athletic enough that he could line up at wide receiver or outside linebacker. Also likes Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina State. I think he will be a Lion! ;-)
Joseph Gartrell - Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephanson HS) 6-2, 180, 4.4............offer?
Seth Fogarty - Morgantown, Wv. (Morgantown HS) 6-2, 195, 4.5........rumored to have been offered by Psu and West Virginia.
Jesse Holley - Roselle, Nj. (Abraham Clark HS) 6-4, 185, 4.5.........very low interest in Psu, but has stated he received an offer.
'Ships available - (0 or 1)
I'd take a tight end in this class, but I don't know if Penn State will. The reason you ask. Richardson, Isaac Smolko, and Scott Paxson (if moved from OLB) will all be redshirt freshman this season. There are a couple of big time tight ends from Penn State's natural recruiting area this season, but with the crunch on 'ships and more pronounced lack of depth elsewhere, tight end may not be a priority unless one of the "Biggies" jumps at his offer.
1. Greg Olsen - Wayne, Nj. (Wayne Hills HS) 6-6, 240, 4.71........# 1 overall TE
Plain and simple, Penn State has a better chance of landing both Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, than Greg Olsen. His older brother, QB Chris Olsen, signed with Notre Dame. I fully expect him to follow his brother to South Bend.
2. Vernon Davis - Washington, Dc. (Dunbar HS) 6-4, 225, 4.5........#16 overall TE
This kid is a flat out stud. His physical statistics liken him to a young Shannon Sharpe. Now Bernie stated that there is a better chance of snow in San Diego than a Washington, Dc. private school player attending Penn State. Vernon seems to have a legit interest in Penn State, along with probable favorite Maryland, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech. Alas, I think the kids of San Diego will be disappointed again this winter.
3. John Kinzer - Fairfax, Va. (Robinson Secondary HS) 6-4, 255, 4.7........NR @ TE
Hails from the same high school as former Nittany Lion defensive back, Scott Sanden. The Nits have also offered his teammate, S Chase Anastasio. Could also play defensive end. Will be the top TE from Virginia this season.
4. Louis Irizarry - Youngstown, Oh. (Ursuline HS) 6-5, 230, 4.7........#3 overall TE
At one point earlier this year, it looked as if Penn State might be able to pull Louis from the clutches of Ohio State. What a coup that would have been. Now, Louis rarely lists the Lions, replacing us with Notre Dame as his second choice. Ohio State fans will be on the ledge if the Irish overcome the Buckeyes for his services, as many, including Ohio Future Stars editor, Duane Long, has him possibly saying "yes" weeks ago.
5. Jon Stupar - State College, Pa. (State College HS) 6-5, 250, 4.8........NR @ TE
Aside from the quarterback recruiting questions, the biggest head scratcher this season has been the way Psu has recruited Stupar. When R.J. Luke decided to become a Leatherneck, everyone figured tight end would become a top priority for this recruiting class. However, it has not, possibly because Scott Paxson has been moved. Stupar's a very talented player, possessing size and speed. He stated that we are not completely eliminated from consideration, even without an offer, but with the likes of Florida State and Virginia showing you "the love," I doubt Jon follows his former SCHS teammates to Psu.
Nick Stefanow - Wheeling Park, Wv. (Wheeling Park HS) 6-5, 215, 4.6.......a rail-thin but athletic TE, has not been offered by Psu. Pitt and Wvu in the lead.
Trey Koziol - Hinsdale, Il. (Central HS) 6-5, 235, 4.7........If we offer, Trey could commit on the spot. Has offers from Northwestern and Michigan St. Also likes Mich.
'Ships available - (3 or 4)
There is no argument that Penn State's offensive line play has been incredibly excruciating for 3 years now. BUT, things may be turning around very soon (on paper at least). With the previous two classes, the coaching staff inked some of the best lineman in the country. Every young running back should be sent a picture of Mark Farris, E.Z. Smith, Nick Marmo, Tyler Reed, John Wilson, Brian Borgoyn, Chris Auletta, Tommy McHugh, Steve Roach, and co., with a little caption that reads, "Follow us to the Promised Land." Now all they have to do is turn the hype into reality.
Despite having plenty of young talent on its squad, Penn State needs to shore up its line with quality depth. The team loses Gus Felder, Matt Schmidt, Tyler Lenda, Joe Iorio, Eric and Rickenbach after this season. Also, unless Damone Jones and David Costlow see significant PT, both may be candidates to give up their fifth year of elgibility (JoePa stated Damone may be a starter at tackle, but we'll see if he can live up to Joe's coach speech - IMO, that's a big IF). I think Psu can not afford to sign less than 3 o-lineman.
1. Ian Yates-Cunningham - Lewisville, Tx. (Hebron HS) 6-4, 305, 5.2........# 8 overall OL
Ian, who used to live on the East Coast, has a very legitimate interest in the Lions. According to observers in Texas, the kid can dominate any opponent at the high school level. He possesses the size, strength, and quickness to be a very good tackle or guard at the next level. Previously stated that he will visit Psu, along with UVa, A&M, and Neb, this summer. Don't look for Texas to become a serious player with Ian, because his only in-state interest is in A&M.
2. Joel Holler - Lancaster, Pa. (McCaskey HS) 6-6, 330, 5.4........# 9 overall OL
This young'un eclipses the sun when he stands across from you at the line of scrimmage. At the Penn State Nike Camp, Joel thoroughly impressed me with his footwork, running through the rope drills (which emphasize quick feet) with more ease than many of the running backs. Joel contains many of the physical characteristics to be an outstanding offense lineman at the next level. But he needs to really hit the weight room and training table very hard. He measured in at a hefty 348 at Nike Camp, to go with a legit 6-5. At 310-315 pounds, Joel could be a starting tackle by his redshirt freshman year for many schools. He's that powerful and agile! This could come down to a Psu/Miami battle for the kid from McCaskey.
3. Mike Jones - Oak Lawn, Il. (H.L. Richards HS) 6-5, 305, 5.1........#10 overall OL
Mike rates among the top lineman in Illinois, a testament to his ability because it is a particularly strong OL/DL class in the state. His brother, Jim Jones (wouldn't catch me within 100 miles of Kool-Aid with that name), plays offensive line for the Fighting Irish. The Nits, along with a host of others, have offered Mike, but currently Michigan and Tennessee hold the lead.
4. Dan Mazan - Carteret, Nj. (Carteret HS) 6-4, 280, 4.9........#26 overall OL
Dan, on paper, typifies a prototypical offensive guard or defensive tackle. He combines size and speed to dominate his opponents. He sports some outstanding offers, including one from Psu, but did not list the Lions in his most recent top favorites. Miami seems to have the edge for this guy.
5. John Sullivan - Greenwhich, Ct. (Greenwhich HS) 6-4, 270, 4.9........NR @ OL
There has been much debate, including on Scurry's board, that Sullivan may be the best offense lineman to ever..........EVER come out of Connecticut. John projects as a center on the next level, a position that many of us know is very difficult to come across.
6. Jake Long - Lapeer, Mi. (East HS) 6-7, 295, 5.0........#30 overall OL
Another kid from Michigan, who has a legit interest in Psu, a definite reflection of Coach Vanderlinden's recruiting prowess. Currently, Michigan and Purdue hold the lead for Jake, whose size projects at tackle on the next level.
7. Jeff Zuttah - Princeton, Nj. (The Hun School) 6-4.5, 280, 4.95........NR @ OL
Jeff may be the closest offensive lineman to committing to the Nittany Lions. Jeff, who technically completed high school in June, will enroll at the prestigious Hun School, the same school that produced Tennessee OL Heath Benedict, because he felt another year of seasoning under his belt could not hurt him. Jeff claims offers from the likes of Boston College, Maryland, Michigan State, Virginia, and Kansas State, among others.
8. John Rochford - Linwood, Nj. (Regional HS) 6-3, 290, 5.2........#40 overall OL
Another potential center prospect, John hails from a town just outside of Atlatic City, Nj. Unfortunately for Lion fans, John is also quite enamored with the National Champion, Miami Hurricanes. In a recent interview, Scurry asked him about both Psu and Miami. He liked everything about Psu, but loved Miami. Yeah, that's like me - I like J-Lo, but love Brittney Spears. Having been to Coral Gables, I can understand why he loved it though.......
Sean Shannon - Altoona, Pa. (Altoona HS) 6-5, 330, 5.2.......As big as Holler, but not quite as athletic. Currently favors Pitt.
Martin O'Donnell - Downer's Grove, Il. (Central HS) 6-5, 275, 5.1........Rivals Mike Jones' as Illinois top OLineman. May be leaning to the Illini. Psu may have recently offered.
Chris Ivey - Pittsburgh, Pa. (Oliver HS) 6-7, 270, 5.0........Meet Mr. Mysterious! According to a Pittsburgh newspaper, Psu has offered Chris. Maybe someday we'll know the real story :-)
Brandon Nixon - Pottstown, Pa. (Pottstown HS) 6-7, 310, 5.2........kid who emerged during the spring evaluation period. Has garnered interest from a number of schools, including Maryland.
Come back to the Lion's Lounge tomorrow for Part II (the look at the D-Fence), as well as the "uneducated, educated guess" portion of our show...........