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Penn State hosts 4-star Florida DL Derick Hunter
Back in March, lauded defensive lineman Derick Hunter tweeted he’d “locked in” official visit plans to Penn State. A rising senior at Dunbar (Fort Myers, Fla.) High School, Hunter intends to attend the Nittany Lions’ highly anticipated Sept. 29 matchup vs. Ohio State.
It turns out he couldn’t wait that long to explore campus.
Last month, Hunter tweeted an unofficial visit would occur June 13. He fulfilled that statement Wednesday, spending the day at Penn State football facilities.
A 6-foot-4, 276-pound prospect, Hunter is listed 15th among strongside defensive ends and 207th overall in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings. He claims more than 40 scholarship offers. Penn State extended one on Jan. 22, joining conference foes Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska in the mix.
As this process has evolved, it has become clear Happy Valley will be the landing spot if Hunter heads to Big Ten territory for the next phase of his football career. Penn State is the lone conference representative on a top-8 list that consists of Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Penn State didn’t squander its chance to make a positive and personal impression on Wednesday. In typical fashion, the effort was spearheaded by Nittany Lions coach James Franklin.
“Coach Franklin is a genuine dude,” Hunter told 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong. “Talking to him, I feel like I can trust him through this process and I feel he can develop me to get my degree and get to the NFL.”
— derick(RAMBO)hunter jr.🎒 (@hunterderick31) June 13, 2018
This visit was a pivotal step forward for Penn State, which faces a significant disadvantage: the distance from Hunter’s home. This disadvantage is particularly notable because Penn State is in competition with three Florida programs and Georgia, the current favorite in his 247Sports Crystal Ball.
Penn State secured its first defensive line pledge of the 2019 cycle on June 1, securing a commitment from Hakeem Beamon (Chesterfield, Va.). Other notable targets along the defensive front include Zach Harrison (Lewis Center, Ohio), Adisa Isaac (Brooklyn, N.Y.), David Ojabo (Aberdeen, Scotland) and Mazi Smith (Grand Rapids, Mich.).
Momentum established Wednesday should help keep Penn State firmly in the discussion for Hunter heading into the season. The opportunity to host him and family members for a showcase event in September should present another substantial checkpoint in this recruitment.
Watch Hunter’s junior-season highlights here:
Nittany Li0ns staff travels to Miami
Hunter is the latest Sunshine State standout to visit Penn State this year, following a line of Florida prospects that includes running back Noah Cain (Bradenton IMG Academy), receiver John Dunmore (Fort Lauderdale Chaminade-Madonna Prep) and cornerback John Dixon (Tampa Chamberlain). Franklin wasn’t shy about the fact his staff planned to be more aggressive in the talent-laden state this cycle, particularly upon the hiring of former Gators assistant and South Florida native Ja’Juan Seider.
Penn State isn’t content to await visitors from Florida. The Nittany Lions staff traveled to Miami this week, spending Thursday reuniting with old friends and looking toward the future at a camp hosted by Florida International.
As you can see below, Panthers coach Butch Davis highlighted the presence of Penn State’s staff via the team Twitter account:
— Butch Davis (@FIUCoachDavis) June 14, 2018
This experience allows the Nittany Lions staff to further evaluate Florida athletes, ranging from 2019 standouts to younger players who may remain under the radar. It’s also a way to generate buzz in the region, which is annually targeted by marquee Power 5 programs across college football.
In the last cycle, Penn State signed Tampa area standouts Judge Culpepper (defensive tackle from Plant H.S.) and Jordan Miner (cornerback from Wiregrass Ranch H.S.).
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