The Lion's Lounge (Defense) - December edition

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

This year, a good number of high importance targets have already scheduled their official visits to Penn State. Once the state playoff races are complete, we'll be able to better gleam an idea of when some of the big names will visit. Penn State's class will be very small this season so the number of kids visiting will be equally small. As of press time, Penn State appears to be in great shape with a handful of players and in good shape with a handful more. This month's Lion's Lounge includes designations that will give an indication of where Penn State stands with each individual prospect.

* * * * * - Penn State verbal commitment!
* * * * - Penn State leads or co-leads.
* * * - Penn State will get a definite official visit.
* * - Penn State may get an official visit.
* - Penn State has been mentioned but is not in the picture.
* - Penn State has not currently offered.
1. Defensive Line: DEs (6) - John Bronson (Jr.), Jeremiah Davis (Jr.), Lavon Chisley (So.), Matthew Rice (So.), Jason Alford (Fr.); DTs (5) - Jason Robinson (Jr.), Charles Rush (So.), Tamba Hali (So.), Levi Brown (Fr.), Steve Roach (Fr.), Edward Johnson (Fr.)

Penn State has as much young talent as any team in the Big Ten when it comes to defensive line prospects. The bowl practices will go a long way to deciding which four lineman pick up where Jimmy Kennedy, Michael Haynes, and Anthony Adams left off. John Bronson played very well this season at the end opposite Haynes and he will only improve in the off-season. Davis, Chisley, and Rice all showed that they could play in the Big Ten. Rumor has it that Tamba Hali could still end up at end. Alford looked quick on film and seemed like he could play both defensive tackle and defensive end.

Defensive tackle may be an even bigger question mark than running back, which is saying a lot. The Nittany Lions lost their top 3 tackles, leaving only Rush, Robinson, and Hali as players who have seen game time. Both Robinson and Hali could play defensive end, making things even cloudier. According to someone very close to the team, both Edward Johnson and Steve Roach should really make a push for playing time next season.

John Shaw - Spring Grove, Pa. (Spring Grove Area HS) 6-4, 275, 4.8
* * * * *
This season, John showed why he is the best defensive tackle in Pennsylvania and one of the best nationally. Although he may not possess the best technique, John has a tremendous amount of athletic ability. He could also make a push for PT next season.
official visits - not set (John attended almost every Penn State home game)

Mansfield Wrotto - Snellville, Ga. (Brookwood HS) 6-4, 305, 5.1
* * * *
Mansfield's star has really been on the rise over the last two months. Although he could possibly play guard on the next level, Penn State wants Wrotto primarily for d-tackle. He has been to a number of Georgia Tech games unofficially this fall, but still names Penn State as his co-leader with the Rambling Wreck. Mansfield's picture, on his player profile page, gives a good indication of what kind of fame college coaches have to work with. He looks skinny for a 300 pounder.
official visits - Maryland (12-13), Georgia Tech (1-10), Penn State (1-17), and Ole Miss (1-24)

Conrad Bolston - Olney, Md. (St. John S. Episcopal School) 6-4, 260, 4.9
* *
Conrad has been very consistent throughout the recruiting, stating that Maryland leads for him. Penn State may get a visit for Conrad, but sometime drastic would have to occur for him to choose anyone outside of the Terps.
official visits - Maryland, Boston College, Tennessee, Penn State, Ohio State, and Virginia

* Joseph Bryant - Arkansas, Lsu, Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma
* 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
* Lawrence Jackson - Comitted to USC
* Chris Ellis - Tennessee (11-30), Virginia Tech (12-13), Maryland (1-10) and Virginia (1-17)

2. 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.), Andy Ryland (Jr.), Tim Johnson (Jr.), Patrick Hall (Fr.)

Penn State's linebacking play grew by leaps and bounds this season over last. With everybody coming back for next season, Penn State has the luxury of substituting experience for experience. At the outside position, only Deryck Toles will exhaust his elgibility next season. However, the majority of the linebackers on the roster will be juniors next year, meaning grabbing at least two outside linebackers should be a priority for this recruiting class.

In the middle, Gino Capone exceeded everybody's expectations this season, bringing back the hard-nosed reputation to Penn State's middle linebackers. Next season will be make or break time for one time heir apparent Tim Johnson. The Sam Ruhe experiment at middle backer could be over in the spring if some of the young defensive ends don't improve. According to his dad, Patrick Hall is now a lean 246, meaning there is no way he will move to d-end too. He showed he could really play on video, hopefully he exhibits all the potential in the spring. Recruiting a MLB does not seem a priority this off-season, especially with Strath Haven HS super junior Dan Conner getting a heavy from the coaching staff already.

Paul Posluszny - Hopewell, Pa. (Hopewell HS) 6-2, 210, 4.6
* * * * *
Paul will lead his Hopewell Vikings into the Triple-A Pennsylvania playoffs this weekend against Strath Haven HS. This season, he has gained most of his accolades for his play at running back, but there is no doubt he will play outside linebacker when he reports to Penn State. Paul remains very long and lean in body appearance, but has the type of frame that can handle twenty more pounds of muscle. Penn State should be very excited that Paul chose the Lions over Pittsburgh.
official visits - not set

Wesley Jefferson - Brandywine, Md. (Gwynn Park HS) 6-2, 231, 4.6
* * *
A recruiting guru on the other network feels Jefferson will sign with the Terps on February 5th. While that prediction may come true, Wes may still take trips to four schools that have a long history as elite national programs. He has scheduled three visits with Notre Dame a lock for a fourth. The Nittany Lions and Volunteers will battle for the last spot. Penn State coaches would have liked to have him attend a game this season, witnessing a crowd of 100,000+ to compare against the Terps crowd, which barely reaches 40,000 on a consistent basis. This contest should last long into February, but how much longer will Penn State be involved?
official visits - Miami, Fl. (12-13), Maryland (12-20), Ohio State (1-17); Penn State, Tennessee, and Notre Dame

Vince Hall - Chesapeake, Va. (Western Branch HS) 6-1, 238, 4.6
* * *
Vince has been to Penn State for summer camps, so he is not unfamiliar with the Nittany Lions. However, the homestate Hoakies certainly hold the advantage here. Realistically it appears to be a Lion/Hoakie battle. This weekend Vince attended the Tech and Virginia game on his official visit. Things should become clearer for Vince after he returns from State College next weekend.
official visits - Virginia Tech (11-30), Penn State (12-6); Tennessee, Clemson, and North Carolina

James Martin - Pompano Beach, Fl. (Ely HS) 6-0, 205, 4.5
* *
Penn State has just recently made it onto James' top five list, with Miami, Ohio State, Unc, and the Wolfpack. Right now though it seems like the Tar Heels hold the advantage for James, because his cousin also favors the Heels. Martin, who plays on the same team as Tyrone Moss, may be visiting State, but it appears less a possibility this month than it did last.
official visits - North Carolina (11-2); Penn State, Miami, Fl., Michigan State, Florida State, and NC State

Sean Mosley - Sylvania, Ga. (Screven County HS) 6-2, 245, 4.7
* *
Sean claims he received an offer from Penn State during the May evaluation period. However the Nittany Lions have not been in contact with him in quite a while. In the recruiting business, that's a nice way of saying we liked you but we don't think we're going to be recruiting you anymore. Sean stated he would be interested in the Nittany Lions reestablish contact but currently a visit looks like it is not in works.
official visits - Georgia (12-13), Indiana (1-24); Penn State, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech

Tony Hunt - Alexandria, Va. (T.C. Williams HS) 6-2, 225, 4.5
* *
This weekend Tony flew to Los Angeles to witness the Trojans blow out the Fighting Irish. Although USC received the first official visit from Tony, Penn State appears very much in the picture. The Nittany Lions have just recently extended the T.C. Williams' star a scholarship offer. Physically, Tony was probably the most impressive at the Nike Camp in April. Tony has been told that he could get a shot at running back, but linebacker may be a more realistic position for him at the nezt level.
official visits - USC (11-29); East Carolina, Syracuse, Maryland, Virginia, and Penn State

Ryan Brown - Moncks Corner, Sc. (Berkeley HS) 6-2, 240, 4.6
* *
Kinta Palmer's cousin does not appear likely to follow him to Happy Valley. Ryan returned from the Nebraska only lukewarm about his visit. Florida and South Carolina look like they're in the driver's seat at this point in time. Ryan has stated he is still considering the Lions for a visit, but that remains up in the air.
official visits - Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Penn State, and Florida State

Stewart Johnson - Cedarhurst, Ny. (Lawrence HS) 6-2, 220, 4.55
* *
Johnson has not yet received an offer from the Nittany Lions and it does not appear like the coaching staff will offer. Stewart does have offers from smaller division one schools, like Buffalo and UConn, but that list could improve. If offered the Nittany Lions would certainly vault to the top of his list.
official visits - Penn State, Buffalo, Connecticut, and Boston College

* 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
* 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
* Harold Stanback - Louisville, Virginia Tech, Penn State, Maryland
* Tim Cesa - Committed to Maryland

3. 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.)

Rich Gardner stepped forward this season to assume the corner opposite Bryan Scott. Although he dances a little more than JoePa will ever be comfortable with, Rich really brings a swagger and toughness to the defense. The corner opposite Rich for next season is the biggest question mark in the secondary. Alan Zemaitis and Gio Vendemia played good in very limited time. Nickleback Anwar Phillips could really be the wild card. Do Coach Norwood and Tom Bradley keep him at nickle or does he get the opportunity to play every down? Maurice Humphery looked sensational on tape and his athleticsm helped the first team defense get a feel for Nebraska's Jammal Lord, who he acted like on the scout team.

Safety might actually be the deepest position on the field. Chris Harrell started out the season behind true freshman and did not look solid or confident. But as the season progressed, he improved dramatically. Plus, damn the kid can bring the wood! Calvin Lowry played great before breaking his leg against Iowa. He brings athleticsm to the table and should be ready to go by the Blue-White game. Andy Guman played very well in backup time and can also hit like a truck. Yaacov Yisrael will be a fifth-year senior, but has not played in a year, so how he comes back will be anyone's guess.

Samad Cain - Detroit, Mi. (King HS) 6-2, 185, 4.4
* * * *
Because he hails from Anthony Adams' alma mater, Samad knows a thing or two about Penn State football, which is why they are considered the leader for his services. A safety on the high school level, Samad could also play cornerback if pressed. Michigan State was once considered the big leader, but after the Bobby Williams debacle, Penn State has come in and taken the lead.
official visits - Penn State (12-6 or 12-13), Purdue (1-16), Michigan State, Virginia

Ashton Youboty - Klein, Tx. (Klein HS) 6-1, 180, 4.4
* * *
It's not a bad choice to have--do I sign with the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions? That's the decision that Ashton Youboty faces in the coming weeks. Last weekend, Ashton visited Ohio State to take in the battle between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines. His quotes were opinions of Columbus were similiar to those of Happy Valley, so in truth, it's anyone's guess as to who Ashton commits to. Keep in mind that Ashton does have family in Philadelphia and they are Nittany Lion fans. It appears that he could have his mind made up by Christmas, leaving teams like Tennessee and Oklahoma out of the running for him.
official visits - Penn State (9-14), Ohio State (11-22); Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Michigan

Ira Guilford - Hoboken, Nj. (Hoboken HS) 5-11, 190, 4.4
* * *
Ira attended the Ohio State/Michigan game unofficially. The good news--he did not commit; the bad news--he still lists the Buckeyes as his leader. Penn State will still get the first crack at him for his official visits, but unless he becomes enamored with State College, it will be hard for the Nittany Lions to grab the lead unless his Ohio State visit goes bad. Although Notre Dame and others are still in the running, Penn State sits a solid second behind Ohio State.
official visits - Penn State (12-13) , Ohio State (1-10), Notre Dame (1-17); Maryland, and Syracuse

Ambrose Wooden - Baltimore, Md. (Gilman School) 6-1, 185, 4.3
* * *
Maryland's best athlete has scholarship offers from just about everyone in the country. Although his official visit to Penn State is not set in stone, it looks as though he will be State College two weeks from now. Ambrose embodies the term student athlete, sporting a 3.8 gpa and scoring over a thousand on his SAT. Notre Dame has long been rumored the leader. If the Nittany Lions can solidify a visit, they could be sleepers for Wooden.
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 impressed many with his play this year for a very good Central squad. Some Penn State fans who have seen him liken him to current safety Chris Harrell. Brent does not yet have a Penn State offer. The staff could be waiting to see where they stand after the late December and early January visits before they offer, which could be why he will not be visiting until late January.
official visits - Penn State (1-17); UConn, Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Virginia

Ryan Mundy - Pittsburgh, Pa. (Woodland Hills HS) 6-2, 200, 4.5
* *
Low and behold, 'tis the Christmas season and maybe miracles do happen. Penn State may not be up there with Michigan and Pittsburgh for Mundy yet, but it seems that the Nittany Lions have not left the Woodland Hills star's mind. In fact, we probably will get an official visit. Ryan will get his chance to show his stuff this weekend when Woody Hills faces Austin Scott in the Quad-A championship game this weekend.
official visits - Michigan (11-1), North Carolina State (11-23), Virginia (12-13); Notre Dame, Penn State, and Pittsburgh

Carlin Gibson - Richmond, Va. (Huguenot HS) 5-11, 180, 4.4
* *
Carlin, like Ervin Battle-Baldwin, plays for Coach Richard McFee at Huguenot HS in Richmond, Va. A true corner, Carlin seems wide open at this time, despite rumors that the Volunteers lead. Huguenot HS has been very kind to the Nittany Lions over the years. Don't be surprised to see Penn State become involved late if Youboty or Guilford go elsewhere.
official visits - Tennessee, Michigan, and Penn State

* Tarrell Brown - Ohio State (9-27), Texas A&M (11-28), Texas, Notre Dame, Florida, and Tennessee
* 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
* Curt Lukens - Committed to Ohio State

4. Kickers/Punters: Ks (2) David Kimball (Sr.), Robbie Gould (Jr.); Ps (1) Jeremy Kapinos (Fr.)
There will be no scholarships given out to any kicker or punter this year. Both Kimball and Gould are proven commodities with each doing a great job in his individual job this season. Dave Royer punted well this season after an inconsistent career. Kapinos will assume the punting job next season. The lefty has a big leg but will come in with no experience under his belt.

Overall Analysis:
With two very good commitments already on the defensive side of the ball, the Penn State coaching staff has a number of targets they are still hoping will come to Happy Valley. First and foremost, cornerback depth is a huge need. If the coaching staff misses out on any of their targets, injuries could prove drastic next season. With one linebacker in the fold, one or two more linebackers (either inside or outside) could be helpful, though no target jumps to mind as a lock. It does not appear as if any defensive ends will be signed, but at least two defensive tackles will be in this class. If things fall in to place, February could be a sweet month for the Nittany Lions. However the possibility remains that we may get shut out, especially at the corner position.

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