Lions Set to Sign Huge Class

As LOI Day approached, only three key targets had yet to make up their minds regarding PSU. Overall, the Lions were poised to meet their most pressing needs.

The waiting game is about to end for more than 20 prospects, the entire Penn State coaching staff and hundreds of thousands of Nittany Lion fans.

Wednesday is the first day recruits can fax their binding letters of intent to major college football programs. And, unlike previous years, where certain prospects allowed their recruitment to drag on long past LOI Day, the athletes who are considering Penn State are all expected to make their final decisions Wednesday.

As of this writing, the Nittany Lions had 22 verbal commitments. All are expected to sign letters of intent with PSU Wednesday. There had been rumors that Maryland defensive back Darrell Givens was having second thoughts on picking Penn State, but our sources believe he will sign with the Lions.

Four other players who had announced for Penn State -- kicker Anthony Fera, center Ty Howell, safety Gerald Hodges and quarterback Kevin Newsome -- enrolled at the university in January and as such need not sign letters of intent. Their commitments became binding upon enrolling.

In the meantime, Joe Paterno and his staff appeared to have a shot at two blue-chip players who will hold press conferences Wednesday -- Delaware receiver Justin Brown and Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins.

As of this writing, FOS recruiting expert Cory James was predicting Penn State would land Brown (over Rutgers) and Florida would land Jenkins (over Penn State).

Further, as of Tuesday night, Massachusetts safety Jim Noel, who had previously committed to Boston College, was said to be mulling a switch to Penn State. He is not expected to hold a formal press conference.

Some quick-hitting notes for people who may not have been paying close attention to the recruiting game up to this point:

• Brown is scheduled to make his announcement at Concord High in Wilmington between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Jenkins is scheduled to make his announcement at Good Counsel High in Olney between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. It will be carried by ESPN.

• If things play out as expected, the Nittany Lions will bolster two overall areas of significant need -- the secondary and wideout. They will land at least a dozen players who project as either defensive backs or receivers, including several -- Derrick Thomas and Devon Smith tops among them -- who are flexible enough to play on either side of the ball.

• At least two of the early enrollees figure to make an immediate impact -- Fera and Newsome. Penn State lost four-year starting kicker and all-time leading scorer Kevin Kelly to graduation, meaning Fera will have a chance to gain the starting job as a rookie. He is the only scholarship place-kicker on the roster. Meanwhile, with the transfer of Pat Devlin and the graduation of Paul Cianciolo, Newsome is now one of only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. The other is starter Daryll Clark.

• State will also load up on offensive tackles by bringing in four players who project at the position. That group is led by five-star prospect Eric Shrive.

• The NCAA only allows programs to extend 25 scholarships per year. But schools are able to work around that by counting certain early enrollees against the previous year's total and by grayshirting certain prospect -- or delaying their enrollment until the following January -- so they count against the following year's total. Maryland defensive back Michael Wallace of this class is expected to grayshirt.

• The Lions already have two commitments for the Class of 2010 -- quarterback Paul Jones and linebacker Mike Hull. They both hail from western Pennsylvania.

• After undergoing successful hip replacement surgery in late November, the 82-year-old Paterno did not make any recruiting trips this year. In all, he has made three recruiting visits in the past three years.

• Penn State will not hold a press conference for Paterno to address questions about the new recruiting class.

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