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Penn State signees set to finish prep career in All-America Game
Penn State will welcome six freshmen to campus in January, followed by the remainder of its 2018 recruiting class next summer. Though the impressive high school careers of each future Nittany Lions player has ended, some have an opportunity to showcase their skills against elite prep opponents one final time.
The Under Armour All-America Game, to be held Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., will feature four members of the Penn State class. This group is among a select collection of 2018 talent invited to compete in the annual showcase, which is broadcast at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Receivers Justin Shorter and Shaquon Anderson-Butts, running back Ricky Slade and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher are expected to arrive in Orlando this weekend to begin preparations for the matchup. Among this group, three players finalized intentions to play for the Nittany Lions during college football’s early signing period (Dec. 20-22), while Anderson-Butts is the lone Penn State commit who remains unsigned.
Anderson-Butts, a close friend and Harrisburg (Pa.) High School teammate of prized Penn State signee Micah Parsons, has expressed plans to send in his letter of intent during the traditional National Signing Day (Feb. 7). He caught 31 passes for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, according to MaxPreps, despite often exiting games early due to his team’s insurmountable lead.
Anderson-Butts is one of four 2018 receivers who intend to attend Penn State. Shorter, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect, is the headliner of this group.
He dominated the camp circuit last offseason, including a dynamic performance I witnessed at an Under Armour regional event in New Jersey. That effort helped the South Brunswick (N.J.) High School standout secure his spot in this game.
The last time he competed in live action, Shorter caught a touchdown pass while leading South Brunswick to a victory in the state championship game. He has an opportunity in the All-America Game, and practices leading up to kickoff, to further assert himself as the nation’s premier prospect at his position.
“Justin Shorter is as good a high school wide receiver that I’ve ever seen, on film and in person,” Penn State coach James Franklin said Dec. 20 after the recruit’s addition became official.
Shorter isn’t the only 5-star Nittany Lions signee represented in this contest, as Slade, an elite running back recruit, is also set to compete.
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
Slade, a 5-9, 185-pound playmaker from C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) High School, was named his state’s Gatorade Player of the Year. He could vie for immediate consideration in the Penn State offensive backfield following the anticipated early departure of Saquon Barkley.
Slade accounted for more than 2,700 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns in 2017. He dazzled during his most recent national showcase, earning first-team honors this summer at The Opening.
Mustipher, a 6-5, 290-pound lineman, is among the most impressive defensive tackles in this recruiting cycle. Also a state champion wrestler in Maryland, he is considered a top-10 talent at his position.
Expect these players to concentrate on ending their high school football experience on a high note, while also targeting a couple of fellow competitors. We’ll get to that here…
4-star DEs Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith arrive in Orlando with decisions to make
While the majority of All-America Game participants have already signed with the university of their choice, a group of uncommitted prospects head to the Sunshine State surrounded by speculation.
Among this collection of talent, Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh have captivated Penn State fans for months. Both viewed as top-10 defensive ends, they are on the verge of announcing college choices during the game.
Interestingly, it seems to be Ohio State vs. Penn State for both players. This Big Ten showdown is an intriguing storyline to keep tabs on as Thursday evening progresses.
I currently have picks in the 247Sports Crystal Ball for Oweh to wind up with the Nittany Lions and Tyreke Smith to pick the Buckeyes.
Penn State coaches emphatically placed a premium on the defensive end position while discussing priorities beyond the early signing period, and either of these recruits would represent a substantial addition to a class that landed arguably America’s top defensive prospect last week.
Land of 10 will be live on location in Orlando this Saturday for All-America Game media day. Be sure to follow along for the latest developments and comments from future Nittany Lions.
— Jayson Oweh (@JaysonOweh) December 28, 2017
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