Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of recruiting rankings! Don’t miss any of the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national CFB 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.
4-star Tennessee DE Joseph Anderson has sights set on State College after recent offer
Arguably viewed as the crown jewel of Tennessee’s 2019 in-state recruiting efforts, Joseph Anderson receives his fill of sales pitches on behalf of the Volunteers. The 4-star defensive end secured his first scholarship offer from Tennessee coach Butch Jones midway through his freshman year, has visited Knoxville “six or seven times” and constantly hears about where he should commit in the classrooms of Siegel (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) High School.
“It’s absolutely every day,” Anderson said. “Every day I go to school, it’s ‘Commit to UT! Commit to UT!’ It’s the teachers and everyone.”
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound sophomore attends school approximately 40 miles southeast of Nashville, so Vanderbilt became another SEC school in striking distance. The Commodores also offered before the end of his freshman year, along with conference foes Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Despite his status as a coveted SEC commodity, Anderson isn’t restricting himself to the region.
He traveled to Notre Dame in April and recently welcomed an influx of Big Ten interest. During a 16-day span this spring, Anderson added offers from Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.
Suddenly, his scholarship total is approaching 20 schools.
“I’m getting closer to what I want to accomplish – playing college football and going to the NFL,” Anderson said.
The 16-year-old, listed No. 7 among strongside defensive ends and No. 56 overall in the 247Sports’ 2019 rankings, continues to develop as a terror off the edge. College coaching staffs signal they want him to approach offensive backfields from the perimeter, as either a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end or stand-up rusher.
Through two prep campaigns, Anderson learned what it takes to consistently defeat double-team blocking efforts.
“It’s a combination of speed, strength and technique,” he said. “That’s really what you need to be successful and get after the quarterback.”
Though SEC programs are sure to play a primary role in this recruitment – Anderson expects to attend summer events at Alabama, LSU, South Carolina and Tennessee – he is intent on exploring Northern options.
His ideal travel itinerary would include stops at Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, but that may be hard to pull off before his junior season. Regardless of timing, he intends to visit Happy Valley before a commitment.
“No doubt, I’ll take an official [visit] there,” Anderson said.
Due to NCAA regulations, that can’t happen until 2018. When approached about this subject again, he reiterated the Nittany Lions will factor into any official visit plans next year.
“It’s a school I’ve been keeping my eye on for a long time,” Anderson said. “It’s a place I feel like I could play at, and I want to be around all those fans to see what that experience is like.”
In the meantime, he hopes to lay some groundwork toward a growing relationship with the Penn State staff. Anderson aims to communicate with Nittany Lions defensive line coach Sean Spencer at some point to go over the specifics of how he may fit into the team’s attack up front.
From a distance, Anderson admires what coach James Franklin – just a few years removed from the Nashville area himself – has accomplished.
“I’m very impressed by Penn State and how coach Franklin has made it like a powerhouse now,” he said. “They’re going to continue to get better. It is amazing to see them fill that stadium with [107,000] fans.”
Last week, we documented mutual interest between the Nittany Lions and top-ranked 2019 North Carolina defensive linemen Savion Jackson. Penn State continues to plant early seeds with elite members of the 2019 recruiting class, and these efforts could pay off with pivotal out-of-state pickups in the years ahead.
Nittany Lions give 4-star Georgia commit another option to consider
We maintain the theme of Penn State’s search for top sophomore talent, moving over to the Peach State.
Atlanta defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, a 6-3, 270-pound Georgia Bulldogs pledge, announced his new Nittany Lions offer Tuesday afternoon via Twitter:
Blessed to receive an offer from The Penn State University ?⚪️ pic.twitter.com/4sf0pILHpE
— Rashad Cheney Jr (@Rashad40_) May 9, 2017
The No. 8 defensive tackle recruit in 247Sports’ 2019 rankings, Cheney issued a verbal commitment to Georgia in February. As my colleague Jeff Sentell of SEC Country documented soon after that announcement, any alternative coaching staff faces an uphill battle to flip his decision.
“It is going to be really hard now to pull me away from Georgia,” Cheney told Sentell. “I fell in love with the chance to play for the new defensive line coach. That’s Tray Scott. It is going to be hard for anyone to get me away from him.”
This will be a tall task for Penn State, but Cheney is clearly a player Franklin feels is worth it. The Nittany Lions join schools such as Alabama and South Carolina to extend scholarships since his commitment declaration.