Penn State Football Recruiting Roundup: Lasch Bash Recap

Apr 16, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin walks on the field during a warmup prior to the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. The Blue team defeated the White team 37-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O
Apr 16, 2016; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin walks on the field during a warmup prior to the Blue White spring game at Beaver Stadium. The Blue team defeated the White team 37-0. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O /

This past weekend was the Penn State Football program’s yearly Lasch Bash recruiting weekend. In this week’s edition of the Penn State Football recruiting roundup, I will recap what was a very successful weekend for the Nittany Lions on the recruiting front.

Often times in the world of college football recruiting, people judge the success of a recruiting event solely on the amount of commitments a program gains during that event. However, this is often times the wrong way to do it. Instead, the best way to judge the success of a recruiting event is to see how many commitments come as a result of that event.

Penn State Football’s Lasch Bash recruiting BBQ this past weekend is an example of that.

Even though James Franklin and company did not gain any new verbal commitments this past weekend, it was still an extremely successful event. Between camps held on Friday and Sunday, as well as the actual Lasch Bash event itself on Saturday, the Nittany Lions have put themselves in the driver’s seat for a number of top prospects.

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Let’s start with Friday night’s ‘Whiteout’ camp that was held by the Penn State coaches. At this camp the Nittany Lions extended a pair of offers to 2018 prospects that immediately shot the Nittany Lions to the top of their lists. These two prospects are Hyatsville (MD) defensive end John Morgan, and Mechanicsburg (PA) linebacker Charlie Katshir. Both Morgan and Katshir earned their offers from strong showings at the Whiteout camp on Friday night.

Katshir is a player that I undoubtedly see ending up as a member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class. While it is not as cut and dry with Morgan, I do believe the Nittany Lions are the early leader for him. Morgan attends DeMatha Catholic, which is the school that produced current Nittany Lions Mark Allen and Shane Simmons. Another player from DeMatha Catholic that camped on Friday, and then attended the Lasch Bash on Saturday, is defensive tackle Austin Fontaine. Fontaine is turning into one of the most highly sought after defensive tackle recruits in the country for 2018, so getting in on him early never hurts.

Speaking of defensive line recruits that are turning into among the most sought after in the country, insert class of 2019 defensive lineman Antonio Alfano. Alfano also attended the Lasch Bash on Saturday, and early on the Nittany Lions are among Alfano’s leaders. Obviously, there is a long way to go for a class of 2019 recruit, but early on Penn State is off to a great start with the New Jersey native.

As for the Lasch Bash itself, the event went off even better than the coaching staff and people around the Penn State Football program expected it to. James Franklin and the rest of the coaches deserve a lot of credit for how much energy and excitement they created around the program this past weekend. Right now, the Penn State is stuck in a real recruiting dry spell and it is not completely the fault of the coaches.

Penn State’s stretch without a commitment has not yet ended. However, thanks in large part to this past weekend, this stretch will end very soon. But we will get into that more in a bit.

The visitor list for the Lasch Bash was an extremely impressive one and it included a lot of Penn State’s top targets. This list, to go along with the prospects already mentioned, included prospects such as Brailyn Franklin, Brelin Faison-Walden, Cameron Sullivan-Brown, Derrek Pitts, Jonathan Sutherland, Lamont Wade, Lere Oladipo, Mac Hippenhammer, and Tariq Castro-Fields, among others.

Having all the Nittany Lions’ class of 2017 and 2018 commits, minus Chris Bleich, who missed due to a family issue, on campus certainly did not hurt either.

One of the players that Penn State made a big time move with during the Lasch Bash was Mac Hippenhammer. When Penn State first offered Hippenhammer last month I believed they were the team to beat. However, a Michigan State offer clouded that up a bit. After this past weekend, however, I feel very confident saying the Nittany Lions now lead for the electric wide receiver. I would not be surprised to see Hippenhammer commit to Penn State before the start of the season.

Another player the Nittany Lions made strides with was Derrek Pitts. Prior to this visit I said I beleived the Nittany Lions had the chance to take the lead for Pitts with a good visit. Well, it seems that is exactly what has happened. Like Hippenhammer, I would not be the least bit surprised if Pitts were to end his recruitment before the start of the season.

This past weekend was another great visit for Lamont Wade, who had his entire family with him. Even though Wade still insists he will take all of his official visits before announcing his college decision, the Nittany Lions remain in the driver’s seat for the Clairton (PA) superstar. Wade remains Penn State’s to lose.

There was also some movement to come out of the camp that Penn State hosted on Sunday. Class of 2018 quarterback Justin Fields camped and earned an offer from the Nittany Lions. As did class of 2017 tight end Reese Leitao.

With Matt Dotson having committed to Michigan State, Leitao is a player I could see the Nittany Lions really revving up the heat on. Leitao is from Jenks, Oklahoma, and came to Penn State on his own dime to camp and visit. So, he definitely has some interest in the Nittany Lions.

Other than Leitao, Penn State does not seem to be recruiting any other tight ends in the 2017 cycle. So if the Nittany Lions plan to take a tight end in this cycle, which is no guarantee, Leitao might prove to be that guy. Well, he may at least prove to be the player that the Penn State Football coaches want to be that guy.

Now the news everyone is interested in —  commitments that will come from the Lasch Bash. Three players that were at the event have set commitment dates. These three players are linebacker Brailyn Franklin, linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden, and safety Jonathan Sutherland.

Franklin will announce his college decision on August 2, and I fully expect him to commit to the Nittany Lions. After visiting Penn State for the first time this past weekend and having a great visit, Faison-Walden has moved his commitment date up to this Wednesday (July 20). Like Franklin, I fully expect Faison-Walden to commit to the Nittany Lions.

Faison-Walden, most likely, will not be the only commitment the Nittany Lions get this week. Four-star Episcopal, Virginia, safety Jonathan Sutherland is set to announce his college decision on Saturday, July 24. Much like Faison-Walden on Wednesday, I expect Sutherland to commit to the Nittany Lions when he announces this college decision this week.

Assuming the Nittany Lions add Faison-Walden and Sutherland this week, it will give a much-needed boost in recruiting for the program. Gaining a pair of commitments would help to generate momentum on the recruiting trail for the Nittany Lions as the start of the 2016 season approaches. This should be a big week on the recruiting trail for Penn State.

Next: Johnathan Thomas Switching Positions

That will do it for this week. As always, stay tuned here at Victory Bell Rings for all the latest news in the world of Penn State Football recruiting. In particular, this upcoming week, as the Nittany Lions seem primed to land a pair of commitments in the next five days.