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 a 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 target Rasheed Walker sets decision date, official visit
With 22 prospects already signed to its 2018 recruiting class, Penn State continues moving forward with a select list of remaining targets. Rasheed Walker, a 4-star tackle from Maryland, landed near the top of that collection pretty early in the process and continues to draw interest from the Nittany Lions.
Walker, a 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect, is focused on three universities. Penn State must contend with Ohio State and Virginia Tech, with a decision now only weeks away.
The North Point (Waldorf, Md.) High School senior revealed Tuesday afternoon he intends to announce his collegiate destination Feb. 7. This is the traditional National Signing Day, which has been preempted by the early singing period (Dec. 20-22) that saw a vast majority of 2018 athletes conclude their recruitments.
Penn State signed a trio of offensive linemen Dec. 20, headlined by top-10 tackle recruit Nana Asiedu. No program presently carries a pair of top-10 tackles in its class, but that would be the case if the Nittany Lions can land Walker.
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
Walker, who received a scholarship offer from Penn State in June 2016, carries nearly 30 college opportunities. He will have used official visits to each top contender before the announcement.
Penn State and Virginia Tech welcomed him to campus for weekends in December, and his travel itinerary wraps up later this month with a trip to Columbus.
OSU official Visit on the 20th🔴⚪️🔴⚪️
— Rasheed Walker (@Cinc0Tre5) January 9, 2018
Ohio State suffered a major recruiting miss Dec. 20 when it failed to secure prized in-state tackle Jackson Carman, who is viewed by some analysts as the best offensive lineman to develop in the state since eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Orlando Pace. Carman will attend Clemson, leaving the Buckeyes searching for a solution and likely picking up the pace with Walker.
Walker has been a frequent visitor in Happy Valley, as his stays on campus include the midsummer Lasch Bash and a Dec. 8-10 official visit alongside 15 future Nittany Lions players.
Several members of the class have pointed to him as a player they hope will become a final piece. Ricky Slade, a 5-star running back who signed with Penn State in December, told Land of 10 at the Under Armour All-America Game that Walker is his top priority.
“I’m working on it. He’s the main one for me,” Slade said.
A recent shuffle on Penn State’s offensive staff resulted in the addition of Tyler Bowen, who previously pursued Walker on behalf of Maryland. His presence, along with sustained efforts from Nittany Lions offensive line coach Matt Limegrover, may provide to be a difference-making combination.
“The offensive line coach that I talk with the most is probably Coach Limegrover or Coach Bowen,” Walker told Adam Friedman of Rivals.com. “When I found out Coach Bowen was going to Penn State, I smiled a little bit. I like him.”
Penn State is firmly in the mix here, but getting him to campus might ultimately depend on the impact of his final official visit to Ohio State. These Big Ten contenders have consistently battled for top-tier talent on the 2018 recruiting trail, and this sets up as yet another showdown.
PennState was Turnt🔵⚪️🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/CzeViEeCjz
— Rasheed Walker (@Cinc0Tre5) December 11, 2017
Micah Parsons recognized as national Defensive Player of the Year
The accolades keep coming for newly enrolled Penn State freshman Micah Parsons. Considered a top-5 overall recruit and crown jewel of the 2018 Pennsylvania recruiting class, he added another honor to his trophy case Friday night.
Parsons was named U.S. Army All-American Bowl Defensive Player of the Year. Fellow finalists for the award included 5-star cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, 5-star defensive end Xavier Thomas (Clemson signee), top-ranked inside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote (USC) and top-ranked defensive tackle Taron Vincent (Ohio State).
The 6-3, 245-pound Harrisburg (Pa.) High School standout secured 55 tackles, including 17.5 for loss, and 10.5 sacks as a senior. He helped the Cougars complete an unbeaten regular season while starring at linebacker, defensive end and running back.
Parsons, who routinely spoke about potential opportunities on offense in college, rushed for 1,239 yards and 27 touchdowns. He will begin his Nittany Lions career at middle linebacker, according to James Franklin.
“Micah is a freak. … he’s so versatile he can play wherever he wants to,” Penn State defensive end signee Jayson Oweh said.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) January 2, 2018
Parsons earned a Penn State offer during his freshman year of high school. He became the Nittany Lions’ first 2018 commitment in February 2016 and spent 14 months pledged to the program before backing off that verbal pledge April 23.
After visiting and considering schools such as Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Ohio State, Parsons rejoined Penn State during the early signing period. He arrived in State College this week after competing in the All-American Bowl last Saturday.
Parsons didn’t take long to explode as a can’t-miss defensive prospect. He totaled 121 tackles, 27 of those for loss, and 18.5 sacks as a freshman at Central Dauphin High School.
Parsons is expected to compete immediately for starting duties as Penn State works to replace inside linebacker and leading tackler Jason Cabinda.