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.
Florida CB Ken Montgomery Jr. prepared to commit Thursday
Cornerback Ken Montgomery Jr., who received an offer from Penn State last October, confirmed with Land of 10 he will announce his college decision at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday. His commitment will be aired live on Spectrum Sports Florida, the same network on which 4-star CB Jordan Miner pledged to the Nittany Lions on July 6.
Montgomery, a 6-foot-1 1/2, 155-pound senior at Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.) High School, is focused on five schools: Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, South Florida and UCLA. He carries 40 scholarship offers, according to 247Sports.
Montgomery, listed 37th among cornerbacks in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, said he recently made up his mind, sharing what led to the decision.
“The coaches and other commits pretty much made me feel like I was a big priority.” he said.
His final pre-commitment visit took place Tuesday when he traveled to nearby South Florida. The Bulls have received five consecutive predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball, including one from me.
Things seemed to be trending in an interesting direction during our June 28 conversation, when Montgomery expressed plans to visit Happy Valley for the July 15 Lasch Bash and again during the season for an official visit. However, he ultimately cancelled Lasch Bash travel plans due to “personal reasons.”
The Nittany Lions no longer seem a likely match, based on a discussion Tuesday. Though Montgomery will still utilize multiple official visits after his impending pledge, he has become noncommittal about using one at Penn State.
He remains confident that Alabama, Ohio State and UCLA will each receive an official visit. Among that group, only Alabama has hosted Montgomery on campus. Montgomery has never set foot in State College.
Despite never visiting three of his five top options, Montgomery feels like it’s important to claim his spot in a recruiting class before the season.
“Just to take some pressure off me, so that I can have a concrete offer,” Montgomery said.
Penn State is focused on other options in the defensive backfield, including Illinois cornerback Houston Griffith and Pittsburgh-area safety Kwantel Raines. The Nittany Lions carry four commitments in the secondary, including a pair of 4-star pledges this month from Miner and Philadelphia safety Isheem Young.
Nittany Lions up to a dozen blue-chip commits
The recruiting industry continues to acknowledge what’s becoming quite well-known across college football: Penn State is putting together a talented and deep 2018 recruiting class. This 20-player group, considered the No. 3 class nationally in 247Sports’ composite rankings, now features 12 4- or 5-star commits.
That total grew following ratings bumps for linebacker Jesse Luketa and offensive lineman Antwan Reed. Both players, previously listed as 3-star talents in composite rankings, have entered 4-star territory.
Luketa, the No. 17 inside linebacker in composite rankings, is widely viewed as a class leader. The Ottawa, Ontario, native committed to Penn State on Feb. 3 and expects to enroll early this winter.
“I’m ready to learn and ready to work,” Luketa told Land of 10 in June. “I want to get into the weight room with those guys and prepare my body for college football. It will also allow me to grow more comfortable around campus and become a familiar face with my teammates.”
The 6-3, 238-pound prospect attends Mercyhust Prep (Erie, Pa.), though he is primed to give Nittany Lions coach James Franklin a Canadian signee for the third straight recruiting cycle. Luketa would join safety Jonathan Sutherland (2017) and Daniel Joseph (2016) in that category.
Reed, one of two offensive linemen who pledged to Penn State on campus prior to the April 22 spring game, is now the nation’s No. 28 tackle in composite rankings. The 6-5 1/2, 326-pound Muskegon (Mich.) High senior began receiving scholarship offers — the first from Tennessee — early in his sophomore season.
This elevation in rankings could serve as a harbinger of things to come. Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield believes the coveted blocker is ready to make a major leap this season, according to Mark Opfermann of MLive.com.
“The difference between last year and this year is going to be night and day just because he gets it and we’re not telling him to do it,” Fairfield said. “He’s doing it now because he wants to do it and enjoys doing it, and loves it and sees it and believes in it. He’s going to be real fun to watch.”
Reed joins top-10 tackle recruit Nana Asiedu and 3-star Illinois product Bryce Effner in the 2018 Nittany Lions offensive line class.
— Ajizzle (@antwan_reed) July 19, 2017
Penn State still on the mind of 5-star QB Justin Fields?
Penn State seemingly turned the page on Justin Fields when it accepted a commitment from 3-star QB Will Levis of Connecticut on July 15. The top-ranked dual-threat quarterback, a senior at Harrison (Kennesaw, Ga.) High, has also turned attention elsewhere since his June 6 de-commitment from the Nittany Lions.
Visits to schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia have commanded attention during a summer that also featured his rise to Elite 11 MVP honors for Fields. Despite strong indications Fields is destined to commit to a university in the Southeast — and possibly soon — he mentioned Penn State among programs still under consideration during a Tuesday interview with my Cox Media colleague Jeff Sentell.
Sentell wrote a deep-dive look into Fields’ current recruiting outlook, which seems to be shifting toward Auburn, Florida State and Georgia above all other suitors. I don’t expect him to return to this Penn State class, or even to campus for another visit, but found it interesting that he still referenced that development as a possibility.
Perhaps keeping Penn State in the mix during discussions is just a way of tipping his cap toward a staff he respects. If there’s more to it than that, we’ll know soon. Ultimately, the gut feeling here for now is Fields ends up in a Seminoles uniform next year.
That Sentell piece was only the first half of a two-part interview, so stay tuned for more from the former Nittany Lions pledge on Thursday.