The Lion's Lounge (Defense)

PSU would love to sign another quality group. Who are the coaches zeroing in on? Which bluechips have we offered?

6. Defensive Line:  DEs (7) - John Bronson (Jr.), Jeremiah Davis (Jr.), Jason Robinson # (Jr.), Lavon Chisley (So.), Matthew Rice (So.), Jay Alford (Fr.), Edward Johnson (Fr.); DTs (4) - Charles Rush (So.), Tamba Hali (So.), Levi Brown (Fr.), Steve Roach (Fr.)

# - can also play defensive tackle.

The loss of the experience across the defensive front will be a definite area of concern for the Penn State coaches during spring drills.  While Jimmy Kennedy, Anthony Adams, and Michael Haynes have been mainstays on the line for a couple of seasons, the cupboard is not entirely bare.  Both Charles Rush and Tamba Hali have seen their time increase as the season has progressed.  Tamba needs to get his weight up to play the inside, but his motor does not stop running and he is cat quick.  Levi Brown is a wide body in the Jimmy Kennedy-mold, so he should be counted on to see some immediate playing time.  Most of the defensive ends have seen some time this season.  With some more seasoning, John Bronson could be very good.  He looks like Michael Haynes did when he was a redshirt sophomore.  Lavon Chisley brings a boat load of athleticism to the table.

Mansfield Wrotto - Snellville, Ga.  (Brookwood HS)  6-4, 305, 5.1   * * * *
One of the many names to emerge over the course of the season, who many Penn State fans are initially familiar with.  Mansfield, another Georgian targeted by Coach Kenny Carter, plays both defensive tackle and offensive guard.  For now, it looks like he will be solely recruited to play on the defensive side of the ball.  Penn State, right now, leads for Wrotto over a number of southern schools.  The Nittany Lions have two positives because Mansfield has family in Pennsylvania and has a great deal of interest in Penn State's renouned  Smeal School of Business.
official visits - Maryland (12-13), Ole Miss (1-10); Penn State, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest

Joseph Bryant - Jasper, Tx.  (Jasper HS)  6-5, 305, 4.9   * *
"Red" claimed in an interview early last month that he still had contact with the Penn State coaching staff.  Rumors that he attended a Penn State home game this season turned out to be false.  He stated that Penn State would be on his list of dream visits, but until he actually sets one, a dream is all it may be.  Texas A&M, Louisiana State, Texas, and others remain contenders.
official visits - none set

Conrad Bolston - Olney, Md.  (St. John S. Episcopal School)  6-4, 260, 4.9   * *
Penn State and others have always had ground to make up with for Conrad.  Although he says he will visit a couple of other schools, don't be surprised to see him pull the trigger very soon and verbal to the Terps.
official visits - none set

Chris Ellis - Hampton, Va.  (Bethel HS)  6-5, 235, 4.8   *
Chris has just recently begun to express an interest in Penn State but at this point even a visit remains a long shot.  This kid has Hoakie written all over him.
official visits - Tennessee (11-30), Virginia Tech (12-13), Maryland (1-10) and Virginia (1-17)

Lawrence Jackson - Inglewood, Ca.  (Inglewood HS)  6-5, 245, 4.8
Ah the Magical Mystery Tour for LJ continues and State College may be on the schedule for an official visit.  Just months ago Lawrence stated Penn State was a school that he really liked and his parents favored.  JoePa gave him a call soon after.  But then the Nittany Lions disappeared from his list, only to appear in his last interview with the caveat that he may visit Penn State or Lsu.  He does not seem adverse to going to school away from the west coast, but Penn State is the only school he is considering in the polar regions.
official visits - Tennessee (11-9), Penn State (11-23); Louisiana State, USC, Miami, Fl., and Arizona

Going, going, gone? :
Raymond Edwards - Purdue (10-18), Boston College (11-15), Ohio State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and Miami, Fl.
Victor Abiameri - Notre Dame (12-6), Miami, Fl. (12-13), Maryland, Ucla, Michigan
Richard Kittrell - Iowa, Miami, Fl., UConn, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Tennessee
Nate Robinson - Michigan State (12-6), Georgia (12-13), Miami, Fl. (12-20), North Carolina (1-10), Maryland (1-17), and Rutgers
Marcus Thomas - Committed to Florida State

7. Linebackers:  OLBs (8) - Deryck Toles (5Sr.), Derek Wake (Jr.), Lamar Stewart (Jr.), T.C. Cosby (Jr.), Jimi Mitchell (Jr.), Scott Paxson (So.), Dethrell Garcia (So.), J.R. Zwierzynski (Fr.); MLBs (4) - Gino Capone (Sr.), Sam Ruhe (Jr.), Tim Johnson (Jr.), Patrick Hall (Fr.)

It appears Penn State will only sign two linebackers with its class of 2007.  Paul Posluszny brings a load of athleticism to the table.  He looks like a sure outside linebacker.  Because Penn State loses four linebackers after 2004, look for the Nittany Lions to go hard after linebackers next season.  But we'll get into that a little later  ;-)
Ryan Brown - Moncks Corner, Sc.  (Berkeley HS)  6-2, 240, 4.6   * *
Ryan possesses the speed to play outside linebacker and the size to play inside.  A cousin of current Nittany Lion receiver, Kinta Palmer, Penn State has a decent shot at Ryan.  He did take an unofficial visit to State College for the Nebraska game, but at this point Clemson seems to be most on his mind.  South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee are some other schools of interest.
official visits - none set

Wes Jefferson - Brandywine, Md.  (Gwynn Park HS)  6-2, 231, 4.6   * *
After seeing Wes perform at Nike Camp, there is no doubt that he is one of the top linebackers to come out of the state of Maryland in a long time.  Penn State remains in the hunt for Wes and may be lucky enough to secure a visit.  Currently, it is quite difficult to pick out an actual leader for Wesley.  Truthfully, it's actually harder to even get a true top five.  Hawaii is the newest entree into the Jefferson sweepstakes.
official visits - Miami, Fl. (12-13), Maryland (12-20); Penn State, Ohio State, Virginia, USC, and Notre Dame

Vince Hall - Chesapeake, Va.  (Western Branch HS)  6-1, 238, 4.6   * * *
Penn State told Vince that he is there top defensive prospect from the state of Virginia.  He also remains the linebacker that the Nittany Lions seem to have the best shot with.  An official visit is a definite at this point, especially because he enjoyed his unofficial to the Nebraska game.  In his last Lionnews interview , Vince dispelled the myth that Virginia Tech is his clear cut favorite.  It sounds as if each team still has a good chance, with Virginia Tech and Penn State jockeying for the poll position.
official visits - Tennessee (?); Penn State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and North Carolina

James Martin - Pompano Beach, Fl.  (Ely HS)  6-0, 205, 4.5   * *
Another new name that has surfaced in conjunction with Penn State.  Although he plays defensive end for Ely HS, there is no doubt that with his size and speed, he will be an outside linebacker.  His interest in Penn State could quickly become moot if the Miami Hurricanes offer.  Penn State has also courted teammates Anderw Bain and Tyrone Moss, though neither have recipricated the interest.
official visits - North Carolina (11-2); Penn State, Miami, Fl., Michigan State, Florida State, and NC State

* Harold Stanback - Forestville, Md.  (Bishop McNamara HS)  6-4, 235, 4.7   *
Things have been very quiet on the Stanback front lately.  When Deyon Williams was thought to be a Nittany Lion lock, back in September, Harold stated that Deyon was recruiting him to come to Penn State.  Since then, however, things have fallen off.  At last report, he had not yet received a Division-one offer yet.
official visits - none set

* Stewart Johnson - Cedarhurst, Ny.  (Lawrence HS)  6-2, 220, 4.55  * *
Have the Nittany Lions offered Stewart recently?  There's a good possibility that they have.  In a previous interview, he felt that the staff would soon send an offer his way.  If not for a broken leg during his junior year, Stewart would be a more publicized recruit than he is currently.  Don't be surprised in any future interviews to discover Stewart has received an offer and Penn State could be the first school to ante up.
official visits - none set

Going, going, gone? :
Joe Cohen - Louisiana State (10-19), Miami, Fl., Florida State, and Florida
Joe Kedra - Committed to North Carolina
Prescott Burgess - Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, and Tennessee
Jim Presley - Committed to Michigan
* Tim Cesa - Committed to Maryland
Claude "Turk" McBride - Tennessee (10-25), Michigan (12-13), Miami, Fl., Iowa, and West Virginia
Corey McKeon - Purdue (10-19), Boston College, Wisconsin, and Nebraska

8. Defensive Backs:  CBs (5) - Rich Gardner (5Sr.), Anwar Phillips (So.), Alan Zemaitis (So.), Gio Vendemia (So.), Maurice Humphrey (Fr.); SAFs (7) - Yaacov Yisrael (5Sr.), Chris Harrell (Jr.), Andy Guman (Jr.), Calvin Lowry (So.), Jesse Neumyer (So.), James Kanuch (Fr.), Vince Gliatta (tFr.)

Depth is a definite concern for Penn State in the secondary, especially at corner.  Although five players return, Gardner is a senior, Phillips has only played nickelback, Zemaitis has looked hot and cold, Vendemia has rarely played, and Humphrey's future remains in doubt until his first semester grades come in.  Unfortunately cornerback recruiting does not look quite promising at this point.  All indications point to the Nittany Lions being involved with a number of players who do not appear on recruiting gurus radar at this point, ala Anwar Phillips in 2000.

Safety appears in good shape depth wise.  Hopefully both Calvin Lowry and Yaacov Yisrael can overcome their season ending injuries and be 100% for 2003.  Don't expect to see a true safety as part of this class.

Ashton Youboty - Klein, Tx.  (Klein HS)  6-1, 180, 4.4    * * *
Ashton has already visited Penn State officially, calling the Nebraska game atmosphere, "an exciting environment."  Ohio State seems to be the main competition for the Nittany Lions in this race.  Ashton has stated that he wants to come into a recruiting class that also has another quality corner.  Given that fact, Ohio State may have a slight edge because they currently lead for the Insiders #1 corner, Donte Whitner.
official visits - Penn State (9-14); Ohio State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Michigan

Ira Guilford - Hoboken, Nj.  (Hoboken HS)  5-11, 190, 4.4   * * *
Another player that Penn State and Ohio State are doing battle for this season and it appears Ohio State has the clear, overwhelming lead for his services.  Although he plays safety on the high school level, his future seems to lie at cornerback because of his 4.42 speed in the forty.  Ira recently stated that Penn State will definitely get a visit, along with Notre Dame.  He has already set visits to Michigan State and Ohio State.  Boston College, Maryland, and Syracuse are battling for the final spot.
official visits - Michigan State (12-13), Ohio State (1-10); Penn State and Notre Dame

Ambrose Wooden - Baltimore, Md.  (Gilman School)  6-1, 185, 4.3   * * *
Like Dorien Bryant (see above), Ambrose Wooden sports scary speed.  If electronically timed, a 4.22 at Ohio State's summer camp is absolutely frightening!  As it appears right now, Notre Dame seems to have the advantage over everyone else.  If he does not commit to the Golden Domers before he visits Penn State, the Nittany Lions could pull an upset, especially if he likes playing time coupled with a quality education.
official visits - Boston College (11-16), Notre Dame (12-6), Penn State (12-13), UCLA (12-20), and Stanford (1-10)

* Brent Wise - Harrisburg, Pa.  (Central Dauphin HS)  6-1, 185, 4.5   * * *
Brent has helped Central Dauphin to an undefeated season so far.  His father Tom played for Penn State, so the Nittany Lion staff is familiar with Brent.  He could play both corner or wide receiver on the next level.  Hopefully more will be uncovered on Brent sometime in the near future.
official visits - none set

Going, going, gone? :
*Curt Lukens - Committed to Ohio State
Tarrell Brown - Ohio State (9-27), Texas A&M (11-28), Texas, Notre Dame, Florida, and Tennessee
Ryan Mundy - Virginia (12-13), Michigan (11-1), and Pittsburgh
Reggie Nelson - Louisiana State (10-19), Miami, Fl., Florida State, and Florida
Deante Battle - Colorado (10-26), Notre Dame (11-2), NC State, Northwestern, Virginia, and North Carolina
Donte Whitner - USC (11-29), Michigan (12-6), Ohio State (12-13), Miami, Fl., Tennessee, and Notre Dame
* Dareus Hiley - Michigan (12-6), Ohio State, Miami, Fl., USC, and Wisconsin

Overall Analysis:
There are not many scholarships to go around for Penn State at this point.  The staff does not seem primed to hand out any more than twelve, having already received four verbals from some pretty good players.  Do not expect this class to even get a sniff when it comes to national rankings, because it will lack both size and a star quarterback.  However the two running backs prospects we have should be considered studs and it appears they will have another solid grouping of offensive lineman to run behind.

On defense, the coaches appear to be looking to add depth to the defensive tackle position.  With John Shaw already in the fold and Mansfield Wrotto leaning Penn State's way, things are shaping up fine at that position.  Don't be surprised to see a third defensive tackle taken.  With a 'frige full of good, young defensive ends, the coaches are concentrating elsewhere and will not sign a d-end this season.  Paul Posluszny looks like a steal at linebacker.  Watch for him to make some waves in the West's AAA playoffs.  A recruit recently told us the staff will try and sign as many defensive backs as they can.  I suspect no more than 3 will be able to be signed, unless someone is asked to gray shirt or Penn State takes advantage of the Big Ten's new over sign rule.  Each team can now over sign three more players than their 'ships permit, in case more than one player fails to meet academic qualifications.

Being a future teacher, I would give our current class an B+/A-.  That grade could up or down depending on how we fare during those cold, lonely winter months.

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

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