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 recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
Penn State commits expected to attend season opener
The Nittany Lions return to Beaver Stadium on Saturday for a season-opening game against Akron. This is Penn State’s first home matchup since claiming the 2016 Big Ten championship, so expect an electric atmosphere to greet James Franklin and his players when they hit the field for a noon kickoff.
Along with passionate longtime fans and university students, seats will also be filled by high school recruits. A larger turnout of uncommitted prospects is expected for a Sept. 9 game against Pittsburgh and eventual conference showdowns, but the 2018 Nittany Lions recruiting class will be well represented Saturday.
Shorter and Freiermuth are the longest standing members of this class, which is considered No. 3 overall in 247Sports composite rankings. Both players pledged to Penn State prior to their junior season, while Luketa committed in February and became a group leader.
Back home in Happy Valley this weekend #WeAre 🦁
— Jesse Luketa (@OttawasVeryOwn) August 31, 2017
Along with this trio, Sean Fitz of 247Sports reports another three commits are expected to spend Saturday afternoon at Penn State: linebacker Charlie Katshir, tight end Zack Kuntz and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher.
Mustipher is among the most recent Penn State pledges, as he chose the Nittany Lions over fellow finalists Maryland, Michigan State and Tennessee on Aug. 7. Mustipher told Land of 10 a few days later he is “185-percent” committed.
Katshir and Kuntz are longtime pledges who both attend high school in Pennsylvania. Freiermuth (Massachusetts), Mustipher (Maryland) and Shorter (New Jersey) make the trip from beyond state borders.
Expect a large group of commits to gather for an official visit weekend at some point, with the Oct. 21 “White Out” game against Michigan looming as a possibility.
2019 RB target Devyn Ford delivers another dominant performance
The state of Virginia has been good to Penn State when it comes to running backs. Former standout Nittany Lions rushers Tony Hunt and Evan Royster played prep football in Virginia, and that’s also where you’ll find 4-star 2018 commit Ricky Slade.
Penn State has again set sights on ball carriers on the Virginia recruiting trail. Along with Flint Hill School (Oakton, Va.) junior Jordan Houston, Devyn Ford is one of three 2019 running backs who hold a Nittany Lions offer.
Ford, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound prospect, plays for North Stafford High School. He is teammates with 2018 Penn State offensive tackle commit Nana Asiedu, and the two attended spring game festivities on April 22 in State College together. Asiedu pledged to James Franklin before kickoff.
Considered the No. 4 running back and a top 50 overall recruit in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings, Ford is well on his way toward validating high expectations. If his early-season efforts are an indication of what lies ahead, 5-star status is inevitable.
Ford erupted for 222 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first game of his junior campaign, a 56-15 victory over Osbourn, according to Inside NoVa. His follow-up Thursday nearly matched that performance.
He again shredded through an overwhelmed opposing defense, gaining 153 yards on 21 carries in a 45-6 thrashing of Briar Woods, according to Joey LoMonaco of the Free Lance-Star. Ford rushed for 3 scores, pushing his touchdown total to 7 through 2 contests.
His game-changing speed and agility is on display early this season, as 4 scores have come from beyond 30 yards.
The Nittany Lions are a contender for Ford, and having Asiedu on campus as a freshman next year should help this pursuit. Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are among other contenders in a recruitment that includes nearly 30 scholarship offers.
Enjoy a peek at priority targets from your living room Friday night
I know we’re excited to consume as much college football as possible this weekend, but may I offer up an appetizer suggestion?
St. John’s College High School (Washington, D.C.), featuring a few Penn State targets, takes part in a cross-country battle Friday night on national television. The team travels west to take on California powerhouse De La Salle High School (Concord, Calif.), and kickoff is scheduled for 11 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Several St. John’s players attended camp in State College on June 16, and three left with Nittany Lions offers: 2019 defensive back Quinten Johnson, 2019 running back Keilan Robinson and 2020 edge rusher Mekhail Sherman.
“It definitely means more to get offered with my teammates because those are my guys and I want the same or more for them as I do for me,” Johnson told Land of 10 afterward. “I’ve seen the hard work and dedication they put into their craft.”
They will enter a large spotlight Friday night, and all seem genuinely interested in Penn State. Instead of watching the final stretch of Wisconsin-Utah State this evening, perhaps you’d care to see potential future Nittany Lions in action.
Sherman, a 6-3, 235-pound sophomore, is someone I’m excited to evaluate this season. There is a lot of buzz around him and he landed at No. 5 among outside linebackers in initial 247Sports 2020 rankings.
“He has all the athletic tools that college coaches love,” Robinson said. “He’s so young and has so much potential. That’s why all these schools are already recruiting him.”
Sherman shared an interesting note with me while discussing his June meeting with Franklin.
“If he had the chance, Coach Franklin said he would have me play [for Penn State] this year,” Sherman said.
— Mekhail Sherman💫 (@JuicedUpK9) April 8, 2017