Penn State commit Ricky Slade early to rise, Bo Nickal grabs wrestling honor and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, Feb. 22. Let’s get started.

Slade had the look of a star early on

Running back Ricky Slade, currently wrapping up his junior year at C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Va., is one of two 5-star recruits in Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class – defensive tackle Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, Pa.) is the other – and apparently he was something of a prodigy, too.

Before his freshman year of high school, the coaching staff debated as to how much varsity time Slade should see. As Hylton head coach Tony Lilly, a former NFL cornerback, told’s Greg Pickel:

“Some of my coaches said, that’s a big step, and I said let’s take a look at it, because I got a feeling on this. After we went through camp and went into our first scrimmage day, his first or second carry went 76 yards for a touchdown against a defending state-championship team, and I looked at them and said, ‘Yep, he’ll be our starting tailback.’ ”

He has rushed for more than 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in three years as the regular back and obviously has high hopes for his final season. So, too, does Lilly:

“I think across the board he’s continued to get better in every aspect of his game. He’s one of the hardest-working players that I have, and if he’s not training with us, he’s training with his personal trainer as well and constantly works on explosion and, watching his growth, he had amazing vision when he got here. But to even see that vision get better and see his ability to create when there was not something there, that’s something that continued to get better.”

Elsewhere on the recruiting front, this clarification: DeMatha’s DeMarcco Hellams, a 2018 prospect, was offered by Penn State on Monday not as a wide receiver but as a safety. And Hellams, a 4-star recruit on offense, seems OK with it, telling’s Brian Dohn:

“I talked to (assistant) coach (Charles) Huff and the entire defensive staff on the phone and they were genuine and they told me what they had in mind for the future of the program. The coaches were really cool to me and nothing gave me the feeling that they weren’t being truthful with me.”

Hellams also told Dohn he hopes to join the other recruits flocking to Happy Valley this weekend.

Nickal honored

Lions 184-pounder Bo Nickal was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Tuesday, after pinning Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd 38 seconds into their bout Sunday in the NWCA Dual Championship in Stillwater, Okla.

It is the second time this season Nickal, the nation’s second-ranked wrestler in his weight class, has earned the conference’s weekly honor. He is 18-0, and his pin of Boyd, ranked No. 4, was his 13th of the season.

The Lions return to action the weekend of March 4-5 in the Big Ten Championships, in Bloomington, Ind.

Kerr lost for the season

The Lions’ hockey team, reeling after a pair of losses last weekend to Minnesota, will be without sophomore defenseman Kevin Kerr for the remainder of the season because of an unspecified lower-body injury, according to

Kerr was injured Feb. 10 at Wisconsin and has missed the last three games.

The Lions (18-8-2), blasted by the Gophers 6-3 last Friday, suffered an agonizing 4-3 overtime defeat the following night. That naturally didn’t sit well. Per the Centre Daily Times, coach Guy Gadowsky told reporters this at his Monday news conference:

“Absolutely the mood in the locker room was extremely pissed off. I can’t lie to you.”

PSU returns to the ice Friday and Saturday at Michigan State.

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