Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and a recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Sunday through Thursday, and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
Penn State part of Big Ten battle for 4-star LB Lance Dixon
Friday evening provided a flurry of positive news for Penn State recruiting efforts. Soon after landing a commitment from Virginia defensive lineman Hakeem Beamon, the Nittany Lions secured a spot on lists of favorites for three fellow 4-star recruits.
Lance Dixon, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect who attends West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School, provided probably the least surprising development among this trio. Scheduled to use an official visit in Happy Valley next weekend, he placed Penn State on a top-5 list alongside four conference foes.
The Nittany Lions are joined by Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. The Badgers are also set to welcome Dixon to campus for an official visit in June.
Considered the No. 16 outside linebacker in 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings, Dixon claims nearly 30 scholarship offers. Penn State entered this pursuit last November, weeks after he attended the team’s Oct. 21 victory over Michigan.
Dixon tweeted last month he plans to compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January. He collected 115 tackles and 5 sacks as a junior, according to The Daily Tribune’s Scott Burnstein.
Dixon displays expansive range as a perimeter defender who can handle duties in pass coverage.
“There’s not that many people who can move as fast as the slot receiver and consistently tackle the running back. That’s what stands out about me,” he told Land of 10 during the 2017 season.
Penn State signed three linebackers in its 2018 class, including early enrolled blue-chip prospects Jesse Luketa and Micah Parsons. The Nittany Lions landed another elite talent at the position on May 21 when 5-star Virginia recruit Brandon Smith announced his intention to attend the university.
Watch Dixon’s junior season highlights here:
Nittany Lions make cut for 4-star California RB Austin Jones
Penn State secured a commitment from top-3 running back recruit Devyn Ford on May 18, but there have been indications the program is open to signing a pair of prospects at the position this cycle. IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) star Noah Cain, most notably, has expressed interest in the Nittany Lions following his first trip to State College this spring.
Austin Jones, listed sixth among running backs in 2019 composite rankings, is another name to know. The Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) High School playmaker put Penn State in a top-10 list which he tweeted Friday night.
Competition for the 5-11, 190-pound rusher includes Cal, Florida, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and Utah. Penn State is the only Big Ten team under consideration.
Jones, who secured a Nittany Lions offer on March 22, has been a productive player throughout his prep career.
He rushed for 3,337 yards and 39 touchdowns as an underclassman, per MaxPreps. Jones again overwhelmed opponents in 2017, according to 247Sports, gaining 1,560 yards on the ground and reaching the end zone 23 times as a rusher. He is also an accountable receiver.
Stanford is presently the favorite in his 247Sports Crystal Ball, carrying 80 percent of predictions. If Jones and the Nittany Lions line up a visit to Happy Valley this year, it would represent another step forward between the two parties, but proximity could prove to be an obstacle.
The Nittany Lions offensive backfield could feature three former top-3 running back recruits in 2019: Ford, Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade. Penn State will say goodbye to senior rushers Mark Allen and Johnathan Thomas after the 2018 season.
Watch Jones’ junior season highlights here:
4-star WR John Dunmore names Penn State a top option
Penn State continues to command attention from premier prospects in Florida. We’ve mentioned several times the importance of first-year assistant coach Ja’Juan Seider — a Palm Beach County native who most recently served on the Florida Gators staff — in those efforts, and there is a strong connection in place with receiver John Dunmore.
“Coach Seider is like my big brother; I know he has my back,” Dunmore told SBNation’s Bud Elliott in March while discussing his Penn State interest.
There is no doubt that relationship played a role in sealing the Nittany Lions’ placement in a top-7 list he tweeted Friday. Dunmore named Penn State a favorite alongside Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Ohio State.
Listed 18th among receivers in 2019 composite rankings, Dunmore attends Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Hollywood, Fla.). He previously spent nine months pledged to Florida but backed off that commitment on Jan. 22, only three days prior to Penn State’s announcement about hiring Seider.
His 247Sports Crystal Ball points toward Florida State with 69-percent conviction. This outlook makes sense considering what he told SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi in March.
“Florida State, they’re always going to be up there. That’s my dream school,” Dunmore told Abolverdi. “That’s not only my dream school, that’s my family’s dream school. So for me to have the chance to go there and have my family, that’s a lot.”
Dunmore, standing 6-2 with a 172-pound frame, provides length in the passing game. Penn State remains in pursuit of its first receiver pledge of the 2019 class.
Watch Dunmore’s junior season highlights at American Heritage School here:
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