It’s a big weekend on campus for the Penn State football program. Less than 3 weeks after officially closing the books on the 2013 recruiting class, attention will fully turn to the class of 2014, as Bill O’Brien and his staff welcome nearly 30 recruits who will sign on the dotted line in about 11 and a half months. Here’s a rundown of some of the bigger names that will be in Happy Valley this weekend:
- RB Mark Allen (Hyattsville, MD) – Mark actually committed to Penn State last October, and views this weekend as an opportunity to sell some future teammates on the program. He had no other official offers, but was getting strong interest from Maryland, North Carolina, and NC State
- RB Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, PA) - After not taking a true running back in the 2013 class (Richy Anderson could play in the backfield, but has moved to WR), that spot will be a focus this year, and the PA product has been someone the staff has zeroed in on. Charlie Fisher is recruiting Henry, who has offers from Pitt, Michigan, Ohio State, and West Virginia, among others.
- RB Jonathan Hillman (Jersey City, NJ) – You can probably safely assume that the staff will take either Henry or Hilliman as their 2nd tailback in this class, and either one would be a big time get. He is 3 stars on 247, with offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Georgia, Oregon, and many others.
- RB Rob Martin (Harrisburg, PA) – Rob does not have a PSU offer yet, and could be considered a “Plan B” if Henry and Hilliman end up elsewhere. West Virginia and Rutgers are Rob’s only BCS offer at this point, but Pitt and PSU are both sniffing around. He is very high on PSU, and if the Lions were to offer, he could jump at the chance.
- WR Chris Godwin (Middletown, DE) – The Lions are likely to only take one WR in this class, given the depth and scholarship limits. Chris would be a good one to add. 247 gives him 4 stars, and in addition to PSU, he has scholarship offers from Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, and Vanderbilt.
- WR Troy Apke (Pittsburgh, PA) – Troy is similar to Rob Martin, in that he does not hold a PSU offer, and could be seen as a second option if Godwin, and another high profile offer (Thaddeus Snodgrass) head to other destinations. His only reported offer is from Pitt, where his dad played linebacker.
- LB Troy Reeder (Wilmington, DE) – After taking 2 LBs in this recently signed class (Bell, Issah), as well as the return of Nyeem Wartman from injury, with 4 years of eligibility, expect PSU to be picky with LB recruiting in this class. Troy is a 3 star player, and the fact Coach Vanderlinden and the staff have offered him this early speaks volumes.
- S Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, PA) - The staff of course focused heavily on the secondary in last year’s class, and will look to add another piece or two this year. Montae will likely be one of the top safety prospects in the country, and is the type of guy Pennsylvania player O’Brien wants to keep in state, and get on the roster. The competition will be a who’s who of college football royalty (and Pitt): Ohio State and Michigan.
There are a few other names to keep in mind, but they won’t be on campus this weekend for any number of reasons (don’t panic!). Thaddeus Snodgrass, the outstanding wide receiver from Springfield, Ohio, that tweeted earlier this month that PSU was his leader. Cleveland, Ohio LB (St. Ignatius) Kyle Berger is another name to file away, although PSU could be playing catch up with Ohio State and Michigan for the 4-star prospect. Rockville, MD CB Troy Vincent, Jr. (yes, that Troy Vincent) has a PSU offer, and definitely is considering PSU. He’s a 4 star player, with interest from a number of high profile programs.
The seeds of PSU’s early recruiting success in 2012 were sewn on this weekend last year. I would not expect a number of high profile commitments like we saw in the weeks after the 2012 Junior Day, but momentum can certainly be gained when you get a lot of great players together, and bonds are formed.
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