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Multi-sport star Ronnie Hickman has ‘always loved’ Penn State
College coaches have chased Ronnie Hickman since before he was in high school. The New Jersey standout first emerged as a main target for his lacrosse skills, and it didn’t take long for him to turn heads on the football field.
Hickman committed to play lacrosse at Rutgers last August but it’s become increasingly apparent he plans to pursue a different athletic avenue. The focus in on football.
“When I got to high school, the competition became so much greater on the football field and made me realize how much I love the sport,” Hickman told Land of 10. “Playing at the next level is something I think about a lot now.”
Of course, the mounting attention from Power 5 programs provides significant incentive.
“Yeah, that doesn’t hurt,” he said.
A sophomore at DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne, N.J., Hickman began to break out on the football recruiting trail in December. Rutgers, Boston College and Michigan provided his first three scholarship offers in a three-day span.
He became a coveted Big Ten target within months, adding offers from Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State. His offer sheet also includes Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
Hickman, a 6-foot-1, 202-pound defensive back/receiver, currently has 4 stars in the 247Sports solo rankings and is rated the No. 13 athlete in the 2019 class. As for Penn State, Hickman said he’s visited Happy Valley “at least four times.” As the competition for his commitment grows more crowded, the Nittany Lions remain in an enviable position.
“I’ve always loved Penn State and they’ve always been a top school,” Hickman said. “I would say they’re one of the schools recruiting me the hardest.”
— Ronnie Hickman (@asvprocket_) April 22, 2017
Nittany Lions safeties coach Tim Banks is his primary contact as Penn State envisions his future in the secondary. The same can be said for Ohio State, which sent defensive coordinator Greg Schiano to DePaul Catholic in May.
Like Rutgers, the Buckeyes athletic department is targeting him as a two-sport athlete. However, he is far more likely to suit up for Urban Meyer than lacrosse coach Nick Myers.
While past trips to Columbus place Ohio State in serious contention here, fellow conference foe Michigan claims personal ties. Former DePaul Catholic teammates Michael Dwumfour and Kareem Walker signed with the Wolverines in 2016 and remain friends with Hickman.
The emerging name in Hickman’s recruitment is Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish extended an offer April 24, and Hickman said he hopes to spend time in South Bend, Ind., this offseason.
Another trip to Penn State is also expected this summer.
As for his on-field abilities, Hickman did damage on both offense and defense last season.
He caught 42 passes for 660 yards and 4 touchdowns as a sophomore, according to Matt Stypulkoski of NJ.com, while adding 48 tackles and a pair of interceptions on defense.
“I would consider myself an aggressive athlete on either side of the ball,” he said. “I’m very athletic and use that to attack, whether it’s making a tackle, going up for the ball or running routes.”
Penn State pledges soar in 2018 composite rankings
The recruiting-analysis industry continues to change its perception of the next crop of high school seniors after months of spring camp action. After 247Sports updated its rankings in mid-May, Rivals.com followed suit Tuesday.
Penn State quarterback commit Justin Fields continued his climb, as Rivals elevated him from outside the top 100 to No. 8 overall in the Class of 2018. He is also considered a top-10 prospect by 247Sports and ESPN, resulting in a No. 6 ranking in 247Sports’ composite rankings, — an average score based on multiple websites’ assessments.
Barton Simmons, the 247Sports director of scouting, compared Fields to Deshaun Watson when his company released its new rankings. Rivals analyst Chad Simmons also cited a national champion.
“The way Fields can throw, the way he can run and the way he can make plays, it makes many think of Cam Newton,” Simmons wrote.
The 6-3, 221-pound playmaker pledged to Penn State last December but, as we noted in a May 22 story, several other coaching staffs are still in pursuit. He is joined by four other Nittany Lions offensive commits in the composite top 100 — RB Ricky Slade (No. 26), WR Justin Shorter (No. 46), OT Nana Asiedu (No. 59) and TE Zack Kuntz (No. 90).
Along with Fields, Shorter has been a major riser in 2018 rankings. He has ascended more than 100 spots since the end of his junior season and now sits at No. 8 nationally among receivers.
“Once I saw that jump in the rankings, I just thought now it’s time to work harder and get to that first spot [in receiver rankings],”Shorter told Land of 10 on May 21. “Getting moved up was great but I’m always trying to take that next step. I’m working nonstop every day.”
Penn State WR target Kendrell Scurry opens recruitment
Kendrell Scurry spent nearly 11 months committed to in-state Tennessee but the 4-star 2019 receiver opted to de-commit Tuesday. Though he resides in SEC territory, this development is worth noting since Penn State extended an offer May 4.
Scurry, a rising junior at Independence High in Thompson’s Station, initially pledged to the Volunteers shortly after his freshman year. Offers continued to arrive in bunches and he showed signs of wavering in his decision in recent months.
Along with the Nittany Lions, Louisville, Mississippi State and Ohio State are among alternative options. The departure of Tennessee receivers coach Zach Azzanni, now a member of the Chicago Bears staff, also played a role.
Expect plenty more programs to explore the 6-3, 185-pound receiving target now that he is officially back on the open market.
“I’ve got two more years of high school. I’m going to be on a lot more visits, going to see a lot more things,” Scurry told Barton Simmons of 247Sports. “I don’t really know what’s going on. If I’m committed to one school, other schools aren’t going to want me there.”
Scurry, considered the No. 81 overall recruit in 247Sports’ 2019 rankings, is coming off a monster sophomore campaign. He collected 58 receptions for 977 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016.
Penn State also sent out an offer to Independence teammate and fellow 4-star WR TJ Sheffield.