Penn State in Prime Time is key for recruiting
Monday, September 29, 2008
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - One of the very first "White Outs" at Beaver Stadium was the Ohio State game in 2005. Since then, only one game per season has been dubbed for the special occasion - not counting the two "White Houses" against Notre Dame last season and Illinois on Saturday.
With the White Out win over the Buckeyes in 2005, the atmosphere and the success of the team led several top high school prospects to sign with Penn State as a direct result, most notably defensive end Aaron Maybin and cornerback A.J. Wallace, who actually favored Ohio State and didn't have the Nittany Lions on his radar until that October evening.
Saturday's game proved to be another huge day for Penn State, despite not actually gaining any commitment from a high school senior as of yet.
Current commitments for the Class of 2009 were also there, along with prospects from the Class of 2010 and the Class of 2011.
Here's a breakdown of some of the more intriguing uncommitted prospects who were on campus Saturday:
Jason Ankrah and Travis Hawkins, Quince Orchard, Md.: Ankrah, a defensive end, and Hawkins, a cornerback who Penn State has talked about playing at wide out, go hand-in-hand because they are believed to be a package deal.
Hawkins has been long considered a University of Maryland lean, while Ankrah actually had an usually long five-day visit to Penn State over the summer effectively making it his leader.
Ankrah was believed to have issues in qualifying academically, and had many believing the Nittany Lion coaching staff had cooled on him. Whatever the case may be, Ankrah still has PSU at the top of his list - and has stated so since Saturday - and could be in Hawkins' ear to join him in Happy Valley.
Tyree Watkins, Camden, N.J.: Watkins committed to the University of Virginia in June, but by August had decided that he wanted to look around.
Before he announced for the Cavs, Watkins was believed to have the Nittany Lions near the top of his list. Watkins along with Delaware prospect Justin Brown, who didn't make it Saturday, are two of the top wide receiver prospects left on PSU's board.
Glenn Carson, Manahawkin, N.J.: Carson has had the Nittany Lions and Rutgers at the top of his list for several months now, and made the trip to Happy Valley after being rumored to be coming to visit for the Oregon State and Temple games.
Carson, who is also a standout wrestler, was thought to be staying put in New Jersey late in the summer, but hasn't committed and many now believe that Penn State may be his likely destination. Carson would add some depth at middle linebacker, which isn't the coaching staff's biggest position of need this season.
Devon Smith, Westlake, Md.: Smith has been considered as much of a Penn State lock as anyone could be. Smith, too, had some academic issues, but he recently received his Penn State offer after receiving his ACT grades. Many thought Smith would jump on the offer immediately, but hasn't to date.
The 5-foot-7 speedster, who has been clocked at 4.3 in the 40, said he was impressed with Saturday's game, but neglected to give the staff his verbal commitment. At this point, track and field offers from some national powers, including LSU and Florida, might be the biggest thing keeping Smith from choosing Penn State.
Anthony Fera, St. Pius X, Texas.: Fera is rated as the nation's No. 2 place kicker, despite having the stature of a linebacker at 6-2, 230 pounds.
After his performances in kicking camps, where he reportedly booted 60-yard field goals, Fera received scholarship offers from the Nittany Lions and Michigan, which he committed to in August. The trip to Happy Valley has many wondering if Fera is wavering on his verbal to the Wolverines, but only time will tell.
LOOKING TO 2010
Paul Jones, Sto-Rox, Pa.: Penn State whiffed on WPIAL and Ohio State standout Terrelle Pryor last season, and it appears that it might miss out on its top two quarterback prospects for 2009. Not to worry, though, Jones gives the Nittany Lions a viable option for 2010.
Jones has been to several Penn State games each season through the past couple of seasons, but some Pitt recruiting gurus had him as a Panther lean. Despite the reports, Jones has Penn State solidly near the top of his list and would greatly ease the Nittany Lions' inefficiency at recruiting quarterbacks.
Mike Hull, Canon-McMillan, Pa.: A stud, legacy linebacker recruit, Hull was said to be the best at his position on the field during last season's meeting between his Canon-McMillan team and Trinity, which is coached by former Purchase Line head coach Ed Dalton. The significance of that statement was Trinity had two D-1 linebackers in Ohio State freshman Andrew Sweat and Penn State freshman Mike Yancich.
Hull is a three-sport standout as he qualified for the state wrestling tournament and was a key component of a state championship winning baseball team. In an ESPN story last week, Hull said Penn State is his early leader.
CLASS OF 2011
Terrell Chestnut and Maika Polamalu, Pottsgrove, Pa.: Chestnut and Polamalu (yes, he's related to Troy; they're cousins) are considered to be two of the top prospects for their class nationally, and both were soaking in the atmosphere on Saturday night.
Just sophomores, Chestnut and Polamalu are in their second year of starting at cornerback for Pottsgrove. It's much too early to say what their views are on the Nittany Lions, but Polamalu was seen taking numerous photos of the White Out on his cell phone with Chestnut right beside him.