Penn State recruiting mailbag: Rasheed Walker down to wire; Lions hosting junior day
Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss 2018 signees who could make an immediate impact and remaining targets beyond the early signing period.
Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started.
Where in the B1G is Rasheed Walker gonna be playing?
— Dave D’Imperio (@DaveDimp) January 31, 2018
Dave wastes no time teeing up our first topic: the pursuit of blue-chip Rasheed Walker. With a decision set for National Signing Day (Wednesday), the 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive tackle prospect is now only days away from announcing his college choice.
We’ve spent plenty of time in recent months discussing a possible showdown between Penn State and Ohio State. However, it’s also important to remember Virginia Tech is in play here as a finalist following trips to campus by Walker and in-home visits from the Hokies staff.
Despite Virginia Tech’s persistence, it would surprise the vast majority of analysts if Walker winds up attending a university beyond the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State have both hosted him for official visits, and these respective coaching staffs have obviously prioritized the U.S. Army All-American.
So who has the edge?
Fortunately I work alongside insightful recruiting reporters from across America, including my Land of 10 colleague Ryan Donnelly. Ryan, who covers the Buckeyes, and I engaged in a back-and-forth conversation about which school Walker will pick earlier this week.
After discussing several factors in his recruitment, we both concluded with a lean toward Penn State.
Ryan received some updated intel Wednesday, which he included in Land of 10’s daily Ohio State recruiting notebook. Here’s what Ryan wrote:
On Wednesday night, Meyer was scheduled to travel to Waldorf (Md.) North Point, the home of 4-star tackle Rasheed Walker. Meyer will make the in-home visit with Walker and his family members with the help of two Ohio State assistant coaches — defensive line coach and Maryland recruiting ace Larry Johnson and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. This trip comes on the heels of Justin Fuente’s in-home visit on Tuesday and comes just ahead of James Franklin’s planned trip on Thursday. It’s unclear which Penn State assistants will join Franklin on Thursday. Ohio State’s positioning as the second-to-last visit is not what the Buckeyes desired, I’m told, but it’s difficult to prove whether being the final in-home visit has any real impact on recruits. The Buckeyes would have preferred to swap places with Penn State as the two Big Ten powerhouses fight for Walker’s services.
So there you have it. James Franklin will give the final in-person pitch to Walker, and then we wait.
My thinking here continues to be if Walker returned home from Columbus without nudging Ohio State into his top spot, Penn State is in excellent shape. Less than one week before Walker provides an answer, I’m still sensing the Nittany Lions land him as a fourth offensive lineman in the 2018 class.
Now let’s look beyond Signing Day toward 2019 recruiting efforts…
Is this weekend our junior day? If so is there a lot of big 19 names to know gonna be in attendance?
— Cody McGovern (@cmcg926) January 31, 2018
Yes, Cody, this weekend marks the first “junior day” of 2018. These events are a staple of the college football recruiting calendar and provide programs with an opportunity to gain ground with their next wave of targets.
Penn State is set to welcome several notable recruits Saturday, including some who will travel substantial miles to attend the event. I’m still working to update the visitors list, but those who’ve given me a thumbs up create an impressive group.
I’ll address this event in greater length in our recruiting notebook on Friday (be sure to read them daily here), but here is a list of known visitors:
2019 QB Taquan Roberson (Wayne, N.J.) – Committed Oct. 26, 2017
2019 DB Tyler Rudolph (Waterbury, Conn.) – Offered Nov. 18, 2017
2019 OL Jakai Moore (Nokesville, Va.) – Offered Jan. 18, 2018
2019 LB Lance Dixon (West Bloomfield, Mich.) – Offered Nov. 9, 2017
2019 OL Caedan Wallace (Princeton, N.J.) – Offered Feb. 25, 2017
2019 WR John Metchie (Ontario, Canada) – Offered July 16, 2017
2019 WR David Bell (Indianapolis) – Offered Dec. 13, 2017
2021 OL Langdon Tengwall (Laurel, Md.) – Not yet offered by Penn State
While we’re on the subject of young, rising talent, let’s focus on Pennsylvania’s finest…
Michael is heading toward the panic button following news that Alabama extended a scholarship offer to prized Pennsylvania receiver Julian Fleming. The Crimson Tide entered this chase Jan. 26, and timing isn’t much of a surprise.
Former Nittany Lions receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis joined the Alabama staff in January. As he shared intel regarding prospects on his radar, Fleming couldn’t have been far down the list.
The 6-2, 180-pound Southern Columbia (Catawissa, Pa.) standout is considered the No. 1 receiver and No. 5 overall recruit in 247Sports’ 2020 rankings. He earned a Penn State offer last June while on campus for a 7-on-7 tournament, and the Nittany Lions should be fully invested in his recruitment.
Fleming might be the best offensive prospect to emerge in Pennsylvania this decade. It’s fair to expect him to enter the 2018 season with more than 20 offers, which brings me to my next point.
Don’t freak about big-time offers heading in Fleming’s direction.
There are going to be a ton of them. More SEC schools, Pac-12 powerhouses, College Football Playoff participants. They’ll all be in the picture here as things progress.
Great players get great offers, and a great deal of them.
Given the way Penn State is recruiting right now, not just on home turf but across America, you should trust James Franklin and his staff to contend for top-tier talent on a consistent basis.
The Nittany Lions signed six of Pennsylvania’s top 10 2018 prospects last month. Collectively, those players carried more than 120 offers. When you’ve won 11 games in consecutive seasons, resulting in a Big Ten Championship and two marquee bowl appearances, you have ammo on the recruiting trail.
Fleming, who caught 105 passes for 2,418 yards and 33 touchdowns as an underclassman, will have his choice of schools by the time his high school career ends. Regardless of newcomers in his recruitment, Penn State isn’t going anywhere.
Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags here.