#1. DT John Shaw - Spring Grove, Pa. (Spring Grove Area HS) 6-4, 275, 4.8
According to newspaper reports, John Shaw is having an excellent year, dominating opponents from his defensive tackle position. Although the coaches may need to tweak his technique a bit when he enters Penn State, all indications are that John is an excellent prospect. Maybe Tom Lemming got one right here, including John in his Top 100 list. He could see some immediate PT next season.
#2. OLB Paul Posluszny - Hopewell, Pa. (Hopewell HS) 6-2, 210, 4.6
Paul's having a monster season for Hopewell, propelling them to the higher echelon of the PIAA AAA standings. While he is currently tearing it up at runningback, Paul's future remains at linebacker. Penn State will be getting another super athlete for its defense, when Paul reports next August.
#3. RB Jason Evans - Kennesaw, Ga. (Harrison HS) 6-1, 190, 4.4
Jason and his family thoroughly enjoyed their official visit to State College for the Nebraska game. Like all of the aforementioned verbals, Jason is also tearing things up for his high school team. Although he will still visit Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Stanford officially, Jason will sign Penn State in February. Maybe he will work on his teammate Paul Oliver or fellow Georgian, Deante Battle , to add a little more Georgia flavor in the Nittany Lion locker room.
#4. RB Austin Scott - Allentown, Pa. (Parkland HS) 6-1, 205, 4.4
Talk about a sensational season! Austin Scott has exploded this season, after missing a significant amount of time with a knee injury last season. This kid has torn up everybody he has faced, including perenial powerhouse, Bethlehem Catholic HS. Austin sports a freaky combination of size and breakaway speed, which make him deadly in the open field. I would wager a year's salary that once TheInsiders.com recruiting gurus get a peek at Austin on film, he will be as highly regarded as any running back in the country. He and Jason Evans should have Big Ten opponents brainstorming about schemes to stop them for years to come.
The likelihood of signing a quarterback with this class remains slim, but if the nation's top high school quarterback wants to visit officially, I'm certainly not going to complain. Although two junior quarterbacks have already been offered (West Lawn's Chad Henne and Penn Hills' Anthony Morelli), we've seen a couple of "Blue Chip Locks" flirt with Penn State in recent years, only to break our hearts and sign somewhere else.
Chris Leak - Charlotte, Nc. (Independence HS) 6-1, 210, 4.6
In a recent Espn.com chat, Chris stated that he would visit Penn State on October 19th (Homecoming), for their game with the Northwestern Wildcats. In 1999, Chris' older brother C.J. visited us, but Penn State became involved too late in the process, after losing Chris Simms to Tennessee verbal. C.J. eventually signed with Wake Forest, but then transferred to Tennessee. Coincidentally, Tennessee leads for little brother as well. Chris continues the quarterback pedigree in the Leak family, displaying accuracy and strong arm. With Penn State's dedication to the style of offense, highlighting a mobile, heady quarterback, Chris Leak should come away from Happy Valley impressed on the 19th.
With both Jason Evans and Austin Scott already committed, another true tailback does not look like a priority. Rumors out of practice have both Donnie Johnson and Tim Shaw looking impressive. Shaw plays on kickoff coverage and saw action at RB during the Louisiana Tech, while DJ will redshirt, barring unforeseen circumstances. Also, do not forget about BranDon Snow , who is listed as a fullback, but can certainly tote the rock.
Brian Dennison - Jacksonville, Fl. (Mandarin HS) 5-10, 194, 4.4
In a recent article with Steve Curry, Brian stated he still receives mail from Penn State, but has not really heard from them. With two runningbacks currently in the fold, don't expect Penn State to make a real strong push for Brian, unless them determine he can play another position. Michigan State could be a surprise team for Brian.
When reading the names below, it will jump out at you that all of these players could be outstanding runningbacks or defensive backs on the next level. Because they have this versatility on the gridiron, they have been placed in this special category. In recent years, Penn State has been criticized for not having enough speed at the skill positions. Following the script of teams like Florida State and Miami, Penn State will look to sign high end athletes and teach them how to play a position. As the saying goes, "Either you have speed or your chasing it from behind!"
Albert Young - Moorestown, Nj. (Moorestown HS) 5-10, 205, 4.4
Albert looked very good during the Penn State Nike Camp, particularly in his pass coverage. But he has grabbed many headlines in the Jersey papers for his exploits on offense. Like Austin Scott, Albert received a ton of honors during his sophomore season, but then sustained an injury in his junior campaign, limiting his production a bit (only 1,100+ yards). Well, HE'S BACK! Penn State was not mentioned by Albert at all this summer, but now the Lions have emerged in his top 3, included with Boston College and Wisconsin. Penn State will definately get an official visit sometime this fall.
Andre Callender - West Orange, Nj. (Seton Hall Prep) 5-10, 185, 4.4
Penn State has made Andre's cut as one of his final five teams. In fact, Penn State may even be the slight leader for his services. Questions about his academics have arisen recently, but rest assured Seton Hall Prep is a very good academic school. A 2.4 G.P.A. at SHP is not the same as a public school in West Orange. Although Andre has not played defensive back at the high school level, watching film of him reveals that he has the athlethic ability and toughness to excell on the secondary. For those of you with MSG, keep an eye open for Prep's highlights on their high school wrap-up.
Rodney Kinlaw - Goose Creek, Sc. (Stratford HS) 5-10, 185, 4.3
Rodney has had an outstanding season rushing the ball this season for Goose Creek. But does his future lie on the defensive side of the ball? His athleticism and 40 time would suggest he posesses the tools necessary to becoming a great defensive back. Rodney was scheduled to come to Penn State for the Nebraska showdown, but his father's involvement in a minor car accident forced him to miss the game. Penn State still remains high on Rodney's list, lumped with others like Virginia Tech, Northwestern, and the two South Carolina schools (USC and Clemson).
Travis Thomas - Washington, Pa. (Washington HS) 6-1, 200, 4.4
For a brief period this summer, Travis looked like he might follow former teammate Aaron Gatten to Penn State. However, recent interviews have Notre Dame as his leader. He could play either runningback or safety on the college level.
Kenni Burns - Springfield, Il. (Sacred Heart HS) 6-0, 190, 4.4
Kenni has been called the top tailback in Illinois this season. Big time programs, like Penn State, have started to take notice of him. We have not yet offered Kenni, but if he continues to show he can play at the next level, don't be surprised if Penn State gives him a chance
4. Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
A number of wide receiver recruits have stated that Penn State will be taking two pass catchers with this class. Well I thought Deyon Williams was a lock to take the first slot. Then boom, he surprises the heck out of me and verbals to Virginia. None of the young receivers has yet to separate themselves from each other yet, though Ernie Terrell and Gerald Smith have shared the third receiver spot. The wide receivers Penn State remains involved with, all have the ability to come in and contribute early. Tight end remains a bit cloudier than wide receiver. Casey Williams has played beyond everyone expectations, including JoePa. The young tight ends, however, have not stepped up like the coaching staff has hoped. Tight end should not be considered a priority, so don't expect one in this class unless it is a super player.
Seth Fogarty - Morgantown, Wv. (Morgantown HS) 6-2, 195, 4.5
Seth really enjoyed his visit to State College during the Nebraska game A LOT. Enough to push the Lion's in front for his services? We will find out tomorrow. Seth has just returned from an official visit to Ucla, his childhood favorite. If the girls of Westwood haven't totally mesmerized him enough to commit while there, they along with Penn State, West Virginia, and UConn will all be sitting anxiously waiting for Seth to announce his intentions.
Terrell Golden - Norfolk, Va. (Lake Taylor HS) 6-3, 205, 4.4
How Terrell Golden is only ranked the # 111 wide receiver in the country mystifies me. His physical numbers alone (6-3, 205, 4.32 and 270 pound bench) liken him to a Terrell Owens-type wide receiver. Virginia Tech, again, looks like it may hold the home state edge for Terrell, but from all impressions, the Nittany Lions will be right there when all is said and done.
Louis Irizarry - Youngstown, Oh. (Ursuline HS) 6-5, 230, 4.7
Rumors surfaced recently saying Louis was not entirely pleased with Ohio State's efforts in getting the tight end the ball. Louis remains committed to the Buckeyes, but Penn State and Florida, among others remain in contact. A winning effort versus Ohio State at the 'Shoe may go along way towards convincing Louis to come over from the dark side. Remember, Louis' junior teammate Delbert Ferguson has been called better than Maurice Clarett.
5. Offensive Line:
Penn State's line has improved this season, but four of the five starters will be gone after this season, leaving next year as open season for playing time. On paper, many of the offensive lineman the Lions have signed the last three seasons should be quality Big Ten players. Inexperience across the board will allow for open season on each of the five line positions. Depth may also be a big concern, which is why Penn State needs to sign at least three offensive lineman with this class. Keep in mind that both Lee Lispi and Chris Auletta are grayshirting and will available to practice this spring.
Joel Holler - Lancaster, Pa. (McCaskey HS) 6-6, 335, 5.4
Big Joel seems likes he having fun playing the recruiting game, convincing the recruiting gurus who follow other teams that they have a legitimate shot at him. While I will never call anyone a lock to Penn State, Joel just does not right in any other uniform than the blue and white. In recent pictures, Joel looks like he has slimmed down considerably from Nike Camp back in April. The kid could move like runningback at 330, at 300 pounds, he could be downright frightening.
Jeff Zuttah - Princeton, Nj. (The Hun School) 6-5, 280, 5.0
Penn State has been on Jeffrey since the beginning, which is why we will definately be getting an official visit. Graduated from high school last year J.P. Stevens HS in Edison, Nj., but an illness caused him to play below his ability level. A year more of maturation has shown many of the big boys that Jeff can be an outstanding guard in college. Boston College and Notre Dame are the main competition for his services, although Penn State may lead.
Dan Mazan - Carteret, Nj. (Carteret HS) 6-4, 290, 5.0
Dan's interest in Penn State skyrocketed since he attended the Nebraska game. In fact, Nebraska was Dan's childhood favorite, but they have not been in touch. Many other schools from across the country have offered though, including Oklahoma, Florida State, and Ohio State.
Dan Pribula - Strongsville, Oh. (Strongsville HS) 6-6, 315, 5.2
Dan has been a name connected to Penn State for a while now, but a recent interview suggests Penn State may soon offer him. Right now, Dan's interest lies with Stanford, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Keep in mind that his father is a big time Penn State fan. Also, how can you turn away a lineman from a place called Strongsville?
Brandon Nixon - Pottstown, Pa. (Pottstown HS) 6-7, 310, 5.2
Brandon has mentioned Penn State in the past consistently, along with Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and West Virginia. A huge physical speciman, he could be a prototypical left tackle at the next level. Currently, Georgia Tech leads but they have not offered him a 'ship.
Martin O'Donnell - Downer's Grove, Il. (South HS) 6-5, 290, 5.2
One of the top offensive lineman in the country, has recently become interested in Penn State. If this kid signs with the Nittany Lions, first thank Coach Vanderlinden for being a fantastic recruiter, then thank Nebraska for getting thumped by our Lions. Expect a visit to Penn State, along with Illinois, Stanford, Nebraska, and Oregon.
Mike Jones - Oak Lawn, Il. (H.S. Richards HS) 6-5, 307, 5.1
Like Martin O'Donnell, Mike Jones interest in Penn State was piqued by both Vanderlinden and the Nebraska game. Although his brother Jim, attends Notre Dame, Mike will make the decision that is best for him. He can choose from a who's who of national powerhouses, including Michigan, Notre Dame, and Nebraska.
6. Defensive Line:
You think you have a handle on things and the coaching staff goes outs and does something unexpected all the time! With four fifth-year seniors graduating at defensive tackle, many felt Penn State would need to go out and sign at least two this season. But in reality, all the d-tackles they needed were signed last season. Tamba Hali was considered to be one of the top defensive ends in high school last season. It would only make sense that he would continue in the great tradition of d-ends at Penn State. But he was moved to tackle and has the looks of be a fantastic player for years to come, possessing quickness and a motor that does not stop. Big Levi Brown is redshirting this season and has been rumored to have been a terror on the inside during practice. John Shaw, right now, seems like the icing on an already sweet cake. A defensive end may be signed, but currently the staff may be concentrating elsewhere because of the young talent we have there.
Joseph Bryant - Jasper, Tx. (Jasper HS) 6-5, 305, 4.9
It was rumored that Joseph came up to Penn State for an official visit during the Louisiana Tech game, but that proved to be false. However, Penn State remains on Joseph's list with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Lsu. In the end, Penn State might get that visit from Joseph if Coach Norwood can convince him to.
Raymond Edwards - Cincinnati, Oh. (Woodward HS) 6-6, 235, 4.6
At one point, Ohio State was Raymond's clear leader with Penn State in second. Then things changed drastically. Now Notre Dame and Purdue have the best shots at Raymond, while Penn State fights it out with South Carolina just to get a fifth visit.
Moe Dampeer - Decatur, Il. (MacArthur HS) 6-4, 280, 4.8
One of the nation's best lineman recently told Chris Pool he was still thinking about Penn State. A visit by Big Moe to Penn State may be considered a small miracle. But if he does, again, you can credit Coach Vanderlinden with getting him on campus. You catching a theme here? Tennessee, Oklahoma, Purdue, and Miami will get some visits, while Illinois, Penn State, Ohio State, and Usc are fighting for that fifth position.
Paul Posluszny gives Tom Bradley and Ron Vanderlinden an athletic linebacker to work with on the outside. Penn State looks like it will take one more linebacker, but does it matter if the kid will play inside or outside? At this point, Penn State coaches could be seeking out the best athlete to help maintain or upgrade the talent level at Linebacker U.
Joe Kedra - Cherry Hill, Nj. (Camden Catholic HS) 6-4, 225, 4.7
At one point, Joe looked like a good bet to end up a Nittany Lion. However, he may the only person who walked out of Beaver Stadium after the Nebraska game saying "It was ok," or "Gee, it was too loud in there." Joe's top two are Penn State and North Carolina, both of which he has unofficially visited. Joe went to North Carolina this weekend to see the Heels battle Arizona State. If he comes back to Jersey without having committed, you can expect Penn State to receive an official visit. However, it seems Coach Norwood and company have some ground to make up.
Ryan Brown - Moncks Corner, Sc. (Berkeley HS) 6-2, 240, 4.6
Ryan came up to State College with Kinta Palmer's parents to see the Nebraska game. All indications point to his having a good time during his brief stay in State College. Ryan continues to list South Carolina, Clemson, Miami, and others along with Penn State. Will Ryan continue the tradition of Moncks Corner players to Penn State (Kinta and Courtney Brown)? If he does, Palmer could be the best recruiter of Ryan Brown that the staff has.
Wes Jefferson - Brandywine, Md. (Gwynn Park HS) 6-2, 231, 4.6
Wes has been fun and frustrating to follow so far this season. Fun because he lists a different top five just about every time he gives an interview. Frustrating because I want to see Penn State in there each and every time, which they haven't. From the looks of things, Wes will leave Terp-land (can we say one-hit wonders?) for the Midwest. Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Miami seem like they all have the best shot at landing this stud linebacker.
Vince Hall - Chesapeake, Va. (Western Branch HS) 6-1, 238, 4.6
Vince, like so many other of our top targets, visited unofficially for Happy Valley for the Nebraska game. The # 1 rated recruit from Virginia in Penn State eyes, enjoyed his trip and the Nittany Lions will get an official visit down the road. Vince also lists Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Maryland, and North Carolina in his top five. Virginia Tech looks like the team to beat for his services at this time.
8. Defensive Backs:
Depending on how things shake out when February comes, Penn State will try to sign at least three defensive backs, more specifically corners. With Brian Scott graduating after this season, only Richard Gardner , Anwar Phillips , Alan Zemaitis , and Gio Vendemia have seen the field. Mo Humphrey , who came to Penn State as a partial qualifier, is spending this season working on his academics. He looked great on film and has been the subject of glowing practice reports. Corner recruiting definately remains a priority, but things are not shaping up positively for us, with regards to the players most gurus have identified. As always, one or two players may come out of nowhere and decide Penn State is the place for them. It's happened in the past (Anwar Phillips, Kinta Palmer, Vince Gliatta) and will certainly happen in the future.
Ashton Youboty - Klein, Tx. (Klein HS) 6-1, 180, 4.4
Ashton has already taken a visit to Penn State, but his reviews were not necessarily glowing, unless he is playing things very close to the vest. Sounds like Ohio State may be the team to beat here, especially if Donte Whitner, the nation's number one corner commits to the Buckeyes. Ashton has said he wants to go to a school that signs another blue chip corner besides him. His family in Philadelphia may be a bonus for the Nittany Lions, but either way you slice it, the kid is going to leave the south to play his football.
Ira Guilford - Hoboken, Nj. (Hoboken HS) 5-11, 190, 4.4
Like Penn State, Ohio State also has a limited number of 'ships to give out. They lead for defensive back studs like Donte Whitner, among others. One of those others, Ira Guilford, has consistently called Ohio State his favorite. Does he have an offer? He says he does. If things do not work out with the Buckeyes, teams like Michigan State, Penn State, and Notre Dame will be waiting to grab the hard hitter from Hoboken.
Dorien Bryant - Swedesboro, Nj. (Kingsway HS) 5-10, 170, 4.3
Dorien never expressed any interest in the Nittany Lions, choosing rather to root against them. The Nebraska game may have changed slightly. Boston College and Tennessee are still the teams to beat for the super-speedster from Jersey, but Penn State may have a slim chance to at least get Dorien to visit officially. We will probably see him at Beaver Stadium, returning kicks for the Golden Eagles of Boston College.
Ambrose Wooden - Baltimore, Md. (Gilman School) 6-1, 185, 4.3
Like Dorien Bryant, Ambrose has speed to spare. And like Dorien, it looks like he will take it elsewhere. Right now Notre Dame has taken the lead for Ambrose. Penn State may get a visit, but that seems less and less likely every day.
Finally, please keep in mind, if you have any burning questions or information that you feel will be relevant to any future columns, please feel free to email me at Jayst12@yahoo.com .