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Our latest Penn State Nittany Lions Recruiting Question of the Day comes from Dave D’Imperio on Twitter.
Should we expect a commit for the 2019 class during Blue White Weekend?
— Dave D’Imperio (@DaveDimp) April 9, 2018
This question or some form of it was proposed several times on Twitter and during our weekly Penn State football recruiting show on Facebook Live (8 p.m. Wednesdays here). Penn State fans understand the potential implications of what shapes up to be an incredible gathering of elite prospects in Beaver Stadium.
The annual Blue-White Game, set for Saturday, is the focal point of a weekend filled with Nittany Lions-related festivities in State College. It’s a celebratory couple of days for university alums, students and, of course, anyone who has trouble waiting until fall for football action.
Always an attraction for impressive high school players, this edition of Blue-White Weekend is augmented from a recruiting standpoint. As I addressed last week, changes to the college football recruiting calendar have immediately resulted in fewer verbal commitments from high school juniors — also known as 2019 prospects — across the country.
We witnessed a new early signing period in December alter how athletes and coaching staffs approach the final stretch of a recruiting cycle. Now an inaugural official visit window that runs from April through late June is again impacting the standard course of events.
Penn State has hosted a limited amount of official visitors to this point, most notably tight end Isaiah Foskey (Concord, Calif.) and offensive lineman Quinn Carroll (Minneapolis), but things kick up a notch this weekend.
Anticipated official visitors include 5-star linebacker Owen Pappoe (Loganville, Ga.), 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison (Lewis Center, Ohio), top-10 running back Devyn Ford (Stafford, Va.) and 4-star defensive backs Jaden Davis (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Cam’Ron Kelly (Chesapeake, Va.), Tyler Rudolph (Waterbury, Conn.) and Marquis Wilson (Avon, Conn.).
— Cam'Ron Kelly (@CamRonJKelly) April 20, 2018
With the exception of Harrison and Kelly, each of the listed prospects have confirmed plans to announce a college choice by mid-summer. Pappoe and Ford have decision dates scheduled in May.
It’s not all about the official visits, of course. There will be dozens of players who spend Saturday on campus in an unofficial capacity.
A trio of offensive linemen are particularly notable, as Xavier Truss (Warwick, R.I.), Caedan Wallace (Princeton, N.J.) and Saleem Wormley (Smyrna, Del.) return to campus. Wallace, who estimates that he’s made at least eight trips to State College, and Wormley, who is headed to Happy Valley for the third time in a one-month span, are candidates to commit soon.
When it comes to the defensive line, I’m especially intrigued by the quick return of top-ranked New Jersey recruit Antonio Alfano, who spent time at Penn State earlier this month. He is fresh off trips to Alabama and Georgia, and aims to commit by Aug. 1. This could prove to be a crucial moment in his recruitment.
The aforementioned Ford, who also is considering Ohio State and Virginia Tech, will be in town alongside high school teammate Nana Asiedu, a member of Penn State’s celebrated 2018 recruiting class. Expect these incoming freshman to implement peer recruiting throughout Saturday.
While we’ve stuck to 2019 prospects so far, the list of 2020 recruits expected on campus this weekend is loaded with top-tier talent.
Defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (Damascus, Md.), the No. 1 overall recruit in 247Sports 2020 rankings, will be in town Friday before departing for the Georgia spring game. In-state receiver Julian Fleming, listed No. 2 nationally among sophomores, will be back in Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
Other top-100 2020 prospects who plan to be on campus include defensive tackle Tre Williams (Oakdale, Conn.), receiver Rakim Jarrett (Washington, D.C.) and cornerback Luke Hill (Washington, D.C.). Clearly, the Nittany Lions have an opportunity to lay a serious foundation for key future recruiting endeavors, while also handling business with 2019 targets.
After a relatively slow start to its 2019 class-building, we’ve seen Ohio State go on a commitment spree in the days following its spring game last weekend. It wouldn’t surprise if similar results await Penn State, which carries two verbal pledges in the 2019 class (State College cornerback Keaton Ellis and New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson).
My educated guess is that the Nittany Lions will land multiple commitments this weekend. Last year, during the hours before Blue-White Game action, Franklin secured two pledges, and it wouldn’t surprise if Penn State exceeds that total.
Ultimately, positive momentum built at Beaver Stadium and across campus in the coming days should contribute to substantial class expansion in the weeks and months ahead.
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