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 commit Keaton Ellis remains out following thumb surgery
Keaton Ellis is now more than a month removed from undergoing surgery Oct. 4 to repair a broken thumb on his right hand. The State College (Pa.) High School junior says his recovery remains “on schedule” but a return to the field isn’t imminent.
“It’s gonna be one or two more weeks, probably,” Ellis said during our discussion Friday afternoon, though he noted there’s no guarantee that will be the case.
“Not sure if I’m gonna be able to come back,” he added.
State College, which also features Penn State preferred walk-on prospect Brandon Clark, is 7-2 this season and approaching playoff action. Bringing Ellis back into the lineup would provide a substantial boost for championship aspirations.
Ellis, a future Nittany Lions cornerback who also plays receiver and returns punts for State College, scored 6 touchdowns through the team’s first four contests. He is doing his best to remain in game shape in case he receives medical clearance to return this season.
“Right now I’m trying to get the rest of my body up to speed so I don’t risk other injuries if I do come back,” Ellis said.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) September 4, 2017
The 6-foot, 168-pound prospect pledged to Penn State on Sept. 9 after attending the Nittany Lions’ victory over Pittsburgh. He’s been a frequent visitor this autumn to Beaver Stadium, which is located approximately three miles from where he plays prep football.
Despite being sidelined, Ellis has remained active on the recruiting trail attempting to help add pieces to Penn State’s 2019 class. He’s no longer alone in that effort as a commit, welcoming New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson as a classmate Oct. 26.
I hope to see Ellis back on the football field for an upcoming playoff game if a return is possible. He remains the only high school junior in Pennsylvania who holds a Penn State scholarship offer.
Closer look at evolving 2020 Nittany Lions target list
Nearing the end of their sophomore seasons, premier 2020 prospects continue to collect college offers in high volume. Penn State has been selective in issuing such offers, but James Franklin is piecing together a target board of elite talents.
The Nittany Lions have offered 11 members of the class from seven different states, according to 247Sports. Postseason film assessment and continued campus visits will undoubtedly result in a busy winter for Penn State as it pertains to this collection of rising recruits.
While we await the final push for remaining 2018 targets and witness increased momentum with 2019 standouts, let’s take some time to assess the 2020 prospects who’ve commanded Penn State’s attention early.
DE Bryan Bresee
High School: Damascus (Damascus, Md.)
When Penn State offered: Feb. 25, 2017
Other notable offers: Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Virginia Tech
Bresee, considered the No. 1 overall recruit in initial 247Sports 2020 rankings, has visited Happy Valley multiple times. The 6-4, 260-pound lineman most recently traveled north to see Penn State defeat Michigan.
“The game was great, the fans and the atmosphere was awesome,” he said. “[I] had a lot of fun in Happy Valley getting to meet all the commits and seeing all the coaches again.”
— Bryan Bresee (@bryan_bresee) October 23, 2017
RB Jalen Berger
High School: Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.)
When Penn State offered: June 3, 2017
Other notable offers: Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Syracuse
The Garden State has been consistently rewarding for Franklin on the recruiting trail and sights are set there again early in this cycle. Berger earned an offer at a Nittany Lions camp. He’s been a high-impact receiver and rusher for Don Bosco this season but will miss the program’s next game with an elbow injury, according to Patrick Lanni of NJ.com.
DE Jacolbe Cowan
High School: Providence Day School (Charlotte, N.C.)
When Penn State offered: June 15, 2017
Other notable offers: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina
Cowan is 6-5, 250 pounds less than halfway through his high school career. His recruitment erupted this past offseason and he’s managed to match those expectations with an outstanding sophomore campaign. Cowan has collected 12 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in his first nine games, according to MaxPreps.
DB Maleik Faust
High School: Harding University (Charlotte, N.C.)
When Penn State offered: April 29, 2017
Other notable offers: South Carolina
Faust has the size and speed to excel at strong safety and made an early impact at the prep level. He tallied 40 tackles and 2 interceptions as a freshman, according to MaxPreps. Compared to other prospects on this list, Faust has some catching up to do in terms of scholarship offers.
High School: Southern Columbia (Catawissa, Pa.)
When Penn State offered: June 17, 2017
Other notable offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
Fleming is the early frontrunner for No. 1 eceiver recruit in this class, and is unquestionably among the premier underclassmen to emerge in Pennsylvania this decade. He has already reached 2,000 career receiving yards and 30 touchdown catches. Fleming plans to attend his second Penn State game of the season this month.
“I’ve built a pretty strong relationship with Coach Franklin,” he said. “He’s a really nice guy and you can tell he really cares about all his players and winning big games.”
— 🃏0J4🃏 (@julian_040) June 22, 2017
LB Justin Flowe
High School: Upland (Upland, Calif.)
When Penn State offered: June 15, 2017
Other notable offers: Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington State
Penn State is pretty much an outlier here as the vast majority of recruiting interest naturally comes from Pac-12 programs. Flowe is an extremely productive defender, tallying at least 8 tackles in each of the first 7 games this season while surpassing 11 tackles three times, per MaxPreps.
High School: Bishop Sullivan Catholic (Virginia Beach, Va.)
When Penn State offered: Oct. 11, 2017
Other notable offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State
Jones has welcomed offers from college football powerhouses since before the 2016 season. He is a long defensive back who flourishes in man-to-man coverage. Jones visited Happy Valley in October, spending time with Franklin prior to Penn State’s game vs. Michigan.
“He told me Penn State is the place to be,” Jones said. “Coach Franklin appreciated me making the visit and he really wants to see me in that blue and white.”
QB Drew Pyne
High School: New Canaan (New Canaan, Conn.)
When Penn State offered: June 21, 2016
Other notable offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Tennessee
Drew Pyne is one of the rare football talents who finds himself front-and-center in the recruiting landscape prior to high school. He secured several offers before his freshman season, including one from the Nittany Lions. Pyne has thrown for 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns through 20 high school games, according to MaxPreps. He made the trip to campus Oct. 21, watching Penn State defeat Michigan.
“The Penn State offense certainly fits my style of play,” he said. “[Offensive coordinator Joe] Moorhead and Coach Franklin are great coaches.”
High School: St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.)
When Penn State offered: June 16, 2017
Other notable offers: Maryland, North Carolina, Syracuse
Sherman was one of three St. John’s College players to receive a Penn State offer during their team trip to a Nittany Lions camp, along with 2019 prospects Quinten Johnson (safety) and Keilan Robinson (running back). This 6-3, 235-pound playmaker projects as an edge rusher who may ultimately grow into a full-time defensive end.
“If he had the chance, Coach Franklin said he would have me play [for Penn State] this year,” Sherman said after Franklin offered.
RB Chris Tyree
High School: Thomas Dale (Chester, Va.)
When Penn State offered: June 11, 2017
Other notable offers: Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Penn State has enjoyed considerable success targeting top running backs in Virginia, and it aims to sustain this trend with Tyree now in the crosshairs. Also a weapon as a receiver and kick returner, Tyree has been to campus a few times in recent months, including two gameday visits. Prior to his sophomore season, he pointed to Nittany Lions running backs coach Charles Huff as the most active recruiter in this process.
“I’ve been talking to Coach Huff probably more than anybody else,” Tyree said in late August. “I feel like he’s a really cool, down-to-earth person, but when it’s time to work he’ll push you. I saw that when I went to camp for just one day, and I think that’s why the running backs there are so successful. He pushes them so much, but at the same time he’ll care for them when they need him.”
DT Tre Williams
High School: St. Thomas More (Oakdale, Conn.)
When Penn State offered: Aug. 2, 2017
Other notable offers: Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech
Williams is the lone interior lineman who lands on Penn State’s early 2020 target list. The 6-3, 275-pound prospect is another priority in New England, where the Nittany Lions have been very active during recent recruiting cycles.
Miss any previous editions of our daily Penn State recruiting notebook? You can find them all here.