FOS Lions' Lounge: Defense

In the Lions' Lounge Jamie Trescavage takes a closer look at Penn State's recruiting board and where it stands position by position. In this edition we look at the Nittany Lions' recruiting efforts on the offensive side of the ball.

Earlier this week Jamie looked at the offensive recruiting. This time the Lounge takes a closer look at Penn State's recruiting board and where it stands by position. In this edition we look at the Nittany Lions' recruiting efforts on the defensive side of the ball.

- Penn State verbal commitment
- Penn State leads or co-leads.
- Penn State is very much in the picture.
- Penn State is barely in the picture.
- Penn State has offered but is not involved.

Defensive Tackle:

Led by All-Big Ten Second Team performer Jay Alford, the Nittany Lions' defensive tackle unit should be solid despite some new (and old) faces being thrown into the mix. Ed Johnson returns from his one-year hiatus with hopes of regaining his high-energy style of play, while Elijah Robinson will add depth after a redshirting as a sophomore. Nittany Lion fans will be curious to see which talented true freshmen—Abe Koroma, Tom McEowen, Phillip Taylor, or Ollie Ogbu—will battle redshirt freshman Chris Baker for a spot on the two-deep depth chart. Despite their scholarship limitations, the Nittany Lion staff will look to take at least one defensive tackle, but with Alford and Johnson graduating, possibly look for two.

Marvin Austin: Washington, D.C. (Ballou HS) 6-3, 300

Scout.com's No. 1 ranked overall player, Austin mentioned Penn State and his lead recruiter, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, quite heavily in the beginning of the summer. It would appear right now that Penn State is on the outside looking in for Austin. He has seemingly narrowed his list to Miami, Florida State, USC, Maryland, and Tennessee.

Joseph Barksdale: Detroit, Mi. (Cass Tech HS) 6-5, 315

One of the nation's top defensive tackles, Barksdale has intermittently mentioned the Nittany Lions in recent months. Just recently, he scheduled an official visit with Notre Dame and has been linked heavily with Michigan, USC, Texas, and Ohio State.

Nick Jenkins: Damascus, Md. (Good Counsel HS) 6-3, 310

Jenkins had an early interest in the Nittany Lions, but verbally committed to Virginia on June 30th.

Donald Langley: Germantown, Md. (Seneca Valley HS) 6-2, 288

A defensive tackle that really impressed the Penn State coaching staff at this year's summer camp, Langley has steadily risen up the recruiting charts of late. When Langley first received his Penn State offer, it seemed like the Nittany Lions were the clear-cut leader with him calling them his childhood favorite. Now, according to some observers teams like Tennessee and Michigan State have really risen to challenge the Nittany Lions. He has stated that he would like to attend school with his teammate Jourdan Brooks, who does not have a Penn State offer.

Wesley Saunders: Durham, N.C. (Riverside HS) 6-5, 269

Look up jumbo-athlete in the recruiting dictionary and all you will see is a picture of Wesley Saunders smiling back at you. One of a half-dozen or so North Carolina products offered by Penn State, Saunders could play defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end, offensive tackle, and guard on the college level. That versatility makes him the ideal recruit with the 85 scholarship limit. He has already promised official visits to Penn State when Michigan comes to town in October and Louisville on September 16th when they play Miami. Saunders also lists South Carolina and North Carolina as schools that could receive official visits.

Tydreke Powell: Ahoskie, N.C. (Hartford County HS) 6-3, 283

Another monster run-stuffer, Powell is a new name to many Penn State fans. Powell becomes the latest North Carolina product to sport a Nittany Lion offer and his interest in the school is definitely reciprocated. Recently he announced that Penn State and Miami have guaranteed themselves spots on his official visit list. Others schools that he has listed are as possible destination spots include Florida, Florida State, Kansas State, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. The Nittany Lion faithful will be excited to know that Powell will be visiting Happy Valley for the Michigan game, an atmosphere that many believe will surpass the Ohio State game of 2005.

Defensive End:

Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice were instrumental cogs in the Penn State defensive machine in 2005, but both have graduated leaving Larry Johnson with some work to do. Jim Shaw, a defensive tackle last season, will move to the outside where he brings a rare combination of size and strength, coupled with a commando attitude. Opposite Shaw could be sophomore Josh Gaines, a player who saw limited action along the defensive line last season. Other upperclassmen in the mix include Jed Hill and Michigan transfer Chris Rogers. Like at the defensive tackle spot, Penn State went out and concentrated on bringing in some of the biggest and bluest chips in the nation to replace Hali and Rice. Young ends like Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans, and Jared Odrick could be counted on as true freshmen to pressure the quarterback. Because of the stable of young ends, it appears the Nittany Lions will probably take two ends in addition to 2006 signee (and current grayshirt) Eric Latimore.

Sidell Corley: Mobile, Al. (McGill-Toolen HS) 6-4, 250

Corley had an early interest in Penn State and despite claiming to currently being pursued by the Nittany Lions, he gave Florida a soft verbal commitment on April 22nd. He will visit in-state schools Alabama and Auburn in addition to the Gators.

Kevion Latham: Greensboro, N.C. (Page HS) 6-3, 234

Probably the most underrated Penn State commitment in the Scout rankings, Latham recorded 83 tackles and 12.5 sacks as a junior. According to his coach, Bob Via, Latham is really just starting to understand his full potential as a football player. A very cerebral kid—on and off the football field—Latham entertained offers from Stanford, California, Oregon, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and North Carolina State to name a few. Latham will come to Penn State as a defensive end and will join a very young and athletic group of Nittany Lion ends. Latham committed to Penn State on July 12th.

Ben Martin: Cincinnati, Oh. (LaSalle HS) 6-5, 225

Despite the Nittany Lion offer, Ben Martin, the state of Ohio's top ranked player, lists Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, and Tennessee as his top schools. There had been whispers that Martin could make an appearance at the Penn State/Michigan tilt, but many feel it is a two horse race between the Buckeyes and the Irish.

Derrick Morgan: Coatesville, Pa. (Coatesville HS) 6-4, 260

When the dust settles and hindsight becomes 20/20, there is an excellent chance that Derrick Morgan could be the top player in Pennsylvania in 2006. It is not a common occurrence for a defensive end to be in the 260 pound range and run like Morgan does. While he also plays offense, Morgan's future will be as an end or tackle. A very bright kid and a great student, he has approached his recruitment with a business-like attitude not often seen in a senior in high school. Currently, Morgan lists Penn State, Ohio State, North Carolina State, Miami, and Boston College as his final five. He will make his official visit to Penn State when Michigan rolls into Beaver Stadium.

Justin Trattou: Ramsey, Nj. (Don Bosco Prep) 6-4, 250

Trattou had an early interest in the Nittany Lions, but verbally committed to Notre Dame on June 2nd.

Linebacker:

Led by All-American and Butkus Award winner Paul Posluszny and All-American/All-Big Ten candidates Dan Connor and Tim Shaw, the roar has certainly been restored at Penn State's most spotlighted position. While the starters are well regarded, the real unique part of Ron Vanderlinden's linebacker unit is depth in Happy Valley with youngsters Tyrell Sales, Dontey Brown, Sean Lee, and Jerome Hayes chomping at the bit to attack an opposing linebacker. Freshman Bani Gbadyu could also end up at linebacker. With three commitments under wraps, the Penn State staff has to be extremely pleased with their linebacker bounty—the top rated ‘backer in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

Chris Colasanti: Birmingham, Mi. (Brother Rice HS) 6-2, 235

Colasanti, Penn State's first verbal commitment, sounds like the quintessential Penn State linebacker—hard-nosed, strong, fast, and smart. As his Scout.com Player Evaluation reads, Colasanti consistently plays downhill and attacks the ball carrier and quarterback. He chose the Nittany Lions over a cavalcade of offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, and UCLA. Colasanti committed to Penn State on April 28th.

Andrew Dailey: Massillion, Oh. (Washington HS) 6-3, 215

Dailey hails from one of the best high school football towns in the nation. While his speed and athleticism jumps out on film, Dailey plays hard with great instincts and technique. As a junior he racked up 80 tackles on his way to being named All-Ohio honors. Many recruiting observers felt that Andrew's heart was set on attending either Notre Dame or Ohio State, but Nittany Lions fans should rest assured that those rumors were Internet banter and he is 100% Nittany Lion. He projects as a outside linebacker in the future but because of his unique coverage skills and speed, safety may not be out of the realm of possibility. Dailey committed to Penn State on July 28th.

Nathan Stupar: State College, Pa. (State College HS) 6-2, 220

A 2005 A.P. AAAA First-Team All-State linebacker in Pennsylvania, Stupar exploded on to the scene when his State College HS team challenged LeSean McCoy's Bishop McDevitt squad. Stupar lead the linebacker recruiting parade, joining the Nittany Lions on May 24th. To better utilize his tenacious, hard-nosed style, State College HS coach Al Wolski will move him to middle linebacker instead of defensive end. Before he committed to Penn State, Stupar held offers from Maryland, Virginia, Stanford, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh.

Defensive Back:

On paper the cornerback position rivals the wide receivers and linebackers for the most talented positional group but it lacks the experience that the other two have. Tony Davis and the very versatile Justin King take over for departed veterans Alan Zemaitis (a promising rookie for Tampa Bay) and Anwar Phillips. Observers feel that Davis and King could end up be more talented than their predecessors, which is quite a compliment for the sophomores. Adding depth and tons of speed are the ever improving Knowledge Timmons, Willie Harriot, Devin Fentress, and converted wide receiver Lydell Sargaent. Incoming freshman A.J. Wallace could be as good as anyone in the unit when it's all said and done. The Nittany Lions could add one, maybe two more corners to further solidify the depth.

Probably the biggest positional mystery the coaching staff must figure out are the safety spots. Senior Donnie Johnson, who has improved steadily over his Nittany Lion career, figures to be the lead candidate for the free safety position. He should be backed up by slimmed down former linebacker Spencer Ridenhour. Senior Nolan McCready and sophomore Anthony Scirotto appear to be the lead candidates for the strong safety position, or Hero. Converted wide receiver Mark Rubin figures to be in the mix after a strong spring. Special teams terror Darien Hardy, another former walk-on, adds depth as well. Freshmen Cedric Jeffries, also a possible wide receiver, Travis McBride, and possibly Bani Gbadyu could all begin their careers at safety. With two seniors in the group, the Nittany Lions may bring in two quality safeties with this class.

Cedric Everson: Detroit, Mi. (Mumford HS) 6-1, 175

Everson once listed the Nittany Lions pretty highly, but Georgia Tech and UCLA seemed to have pulled away from the pack. One of a couple very talented defensive backs from Michigan, Everson sticks to a wide receiver like glue and uses his agility to make big plays. At this point, it does not appear that Penn State will push for an official visit.

Chaz Powell: Glen Rock, Pa. (Susquehannock HS) 6-2, 185

Chaz Powell will probably never wear Adidas or Reebok again. The 21st ranked player in Pennsylvania went from a sleeper to stud after a great performance at the State College Nike Camp. The Nittany Lions, amongst many others, were impressed with Powell enough to offer him a full scholarship which he jumped at immediately. With good size and quickness, he projects at either cornerback or safety in college. Powell committed to Penn State on June 24th.

Stephfon Green: Bronx, N.Y. (John F. Kennedy HS) 5-11, 185

A relative sleeper until he announced his verbal commitment to Penn State, Green has risen up the Scout.com charts as quick as he reportedly ran his 40-yard dash at Penn State's summer camp. He is currently ranked as the #6 player in New York, but with a big senior season on offense and defense, there is room to move up. Green committed to Penn State on July 13th.

Nick Sukay: Greensburg, Pa. (GCCHS) 6-3, 205

Due to Nick Sukay's versatility, he just might be the jewel of Penn State's current class. A tremendous athlete with college size as a senior in high school, Sukay projects as either a wide receiver or safety. He could possibly be the third Penn State true freshman in a row—Justin King and A.J. Wallace—to contribute on both offense and defense. Nick, who ranks as Scout.com's #7 safety, held offers from a number of big-time programs, including Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, before he committed to Penn State on June 26th.

Devon Torrance: Canton, Oh. (Canton South HS) 6-1, 190

Torrance had an early interest in Penn State, but he ended his recruitment on September 1st after verballing to Ohio State.

Specialists:

Ryan Breen: Clarkston, Mi. (Clarkston HS) 6-2, 205

Anyone who knows anything about football realizes the importance of field position, especially when it comes to the specialty teams. With Jeremy Kapinos exhausting his eligibility after this season, the punting position appears wide open in 2007. Breen impressed the coaching staff enough to earn the rare scholarship given to a punter. He also offers the ability to be a solid field goal kicker in the pinch. Breen committed to the Nittany Lions on June 24th.

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