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 among favorites for 4-star DB Tyler Rudolph
Widely pursued defensive back prospect Tyler Rudolph revealed his top college choices Sunday afternoon. The 4-star recruit tweeted this list — Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
“After a long talk with my parents and coaches I would like to announce that these are my top five schools that I will be mainly focused on through the rest of the process,” Rudolph wrote.
The St. Thomas More (Waterbury, Conn.) High School junior will use an official visit in Happy Valley this weekend, attending Blue-White Game festivities alongside his parents. Rudolph, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect who could play either cornerback or safety depending on his destination, spoke highly of Penn State during an April 8 discussion with Land of 10.
“The more you visit [Penn State], the more they make you feel like family,” he said.
Rudolph explained his relationships with members of the Nittany Lions coaching staff help create an edge. This upcoming official visit will be his first, and provides a pivotal opportunity for Penn State to make another positive impact as a commitment nears.
“The amount of love they show is crazy,” he said.
Rudolph, who most recently traveled to State College for a Feb. 3 junior day event, plans to issue a verbal pledge to the university of his choice in June. If Penn State is the pick, there could be significant ramifications.
The Nittany Lions are also targeting Marquis Wilson, a close friend of Rudolph and a fellow 4-star Connecticut defensive back. Wilson won’t wait much later than June or July to make his choice, and placed Penn State in his top 10 last week.
Rudolph told Land of 10 he will be recruiting Wilson on behalf of whichever program he picks. He is also a teammate of 2020 defensive lineman Tre Williams, who holds a scholarship offer from Penn State.
Watch Rudolph’s 2017 season highlights here:
Nittany Lions QB target Drew Pyne announces Notre Dame commitment
The recruitment process started extremely early for quarterback Drew Pyne. Penn State was one of a few notable Power 5 programs, others including Alabama and Florida State, that extended a scholarship offer prior to his first high school game.
Now midway through his football career at New Canaan (Conn.) High School, Pyne is a Notre Dame pledge. The 6-1, 172-pound passer announced his Fighting Irish commitment on Monday afternoon.
Pyne, who carries nearly 30 offers, visited South Bend last week. He spent time at Penn State last season, attending the team’s victory against Michigan.
Considered the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in 247Sports 2020 rankings, Pyne remains the only high school sophomore quarterback who holds a Nittany Lions offer. Penn State has targeted almost 10 quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting cycle, including commit Taquan Roberson, while a single offer is out in the 2021 class (Caleb Williams of Washington, D.C.).
Pyne completed 62 percent of pass attempts as an underclassman, according to MaxPreps, totaling 4,702 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Ronnie Hickman, teammate of Lions QB commit, pledges to Ohio State
Penn State has had plenty of success recruiting top talent in New Jersey. But top-ranked Garden State athlete Ronnie Hickman is heading to a conference rival.
The DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.) High School junior verbally committed to Ohio State on Friday night. He pledged to the Buckeyes during a campus visit in Columbus.
Hickman, who could line up at receiver or safety in college, included the Nittany Lions in a collection of six favorites last week. Ohio State edges out a crowd of suitors that also featured Florida, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Virginia Tech. He initially pledged to Rutgers’ lacrosse program before his sophomore year, and before football really began to take precedent.
Hickman and Roberson led DePaul to a state championship in 2017, connecting on 10 touchdown tosses along the way. Roberson told Land of 10 last week he was working hard to push his teammate toward joining him in a Nittany Lions uniform.
Instead, after pairing up again at the prep level this year, their future football interactions will occur on opposite sidelines as Big Ten rivals. No one knows what the Buckeyes are getting better than Roberson.
“I love to throw it to Ronnie but I would hate to throw it against him,” he said.
DB Nyquee Hawkins, who received early PSU offer, picks Virginia Tech
Like Hickman, Nyquee Hawkins is a New Jersey standout who should be familiar to those who follow Penn State recruiting efforts. The 6-foot, 180-pound Orange High School defensive back began visiting Happy Valley before his freshman year, returning frequently and receiving a Nittany Lions offer in August 2016.
Despite plenty of reciprocate interest during the course of this recruitment, Penn State no longer appeared to be pushing as hard for Hawkins in recent months. During a January conversation with Land of 1o, he pointed to Virginia Tech as the program that was probably pursuing him with the greatest level of enthusiasm.
That’s precisely where he has decided to play college football. Hawkins tweeted his Virginia Tech commitment on Friday evening.
A longtime staple of Penn State’s 2019 target board, the 4-star prospect surpassed 20 offers before providing the Hokies with a quality addition. The Nittany Lions continue to set sights across the region and beyond in search of defensive backs, ranging from aforementioned New England recruits Rudolph and Wilson to South Florida cornerback Jaden Davis and Dallas area safety Lewis Cine.
Penn State picked up a pledge from local State College cornerback Keaton Ellis in September.
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