The 2017 high school football season is nearly finished across America, as championship chases remain in only a small collection of states. Penn State commits and targets starred throughout the fall, validating recruiting hype and scholarship offers by producing at a high level.
Our latest look at this statistical production places the overall season into focus. From defensive standouts to unstoppable offensive playmakers, plenty of potential future Nittany Lions earned the spotlight.
Here is a rundown and video highlights of six prospects who stood out during the 2017 season, including some who may play their next game in a Penn State uniform. Statistics are courtesy of MaxPreps unless otherwise noted.
High School: Southern Columbia (Catawissa, Pa.)
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; offers include Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Syracuse and West Virginia
Julian Fleming is on track to conclude high school as one of Pennsylvania’s all-time great players. Only halfway through his prep career, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound receiver proved practically unstoppable yet again this season while leading Southern Columbia to a state championship.
Fleming finished the season with 69 receptions for 1,462 yards and 20 touchdowns, including 6 catches and a score in the state title game. He posted 8 games with at least 100 receiving yards, reaching nearly 2,500 yards with 33 touchdown grabs through two high school campaigns.
High School: Flint Hill (Oakton, Va.)
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; offers include Boston College, Michigan State, Penn State and Virginia Tech
This was a tremendous bounce-back year for Jordan Houston, who missed the majority of his sophomore season with a leg fracture. He spent last offseason motivated to remind people of his potential, adding significant size and picking up new offers based on camp performances
Houston, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect who landed on Penn State’s target board in July 2016, rebounded in a big way by nearly reaching his goal of 2,000 rushing yards. He gained 1,971 yards (11.9 per carry) in 11 games and had 25 rushing touchdowns. His skill also extended to the passing attack (342 receiving yards, 4 scores) and special-teams returner duties for undefeated Flint Hill.
High School: Sachse (Texas)
Recruitment Status: Committed to Penn State on Dec. 31, 2016
James Franklin landed this Nittany Lions legacy last winter, and the son of former Penn State defensive back Leonard Humphries is now only weeks away from early enrollment at the university. Isaiah Humphries showcased his ball-hawk skills throughout this season and set a district record for career interceptions.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound safety set a career high with 7 interceptions and 11 pass deflections in 2017, spearheading a Sachse defense that helped the team finish 12-1. Humphries, who picked off 14 passes during his prep career, also totaled 60 tackles and 5 tackles for loss.
High School: Harrisburg (Pa.)
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; offers include Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Penn State
Micah Parsons cemented his status as one of Pennsylvania’s most-celebrated high school players of the decade by delivering a dominant performance on both sides of the ball this season. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound edge rusher and running back made Harrisburg a state title contender, though the playoff journey fell short following an unbeaten regular season.
He rushed for 1,239 yards (11.4 per carry) and 27 touchdowns in 12 games, running past and over opponents throughout the fall. Parsons wrapped up another impressive defensive season with 55 tackles, including 17.5 for loss, and 9.5 sacks. He received an offer from Penn State as a freshman and spent 14 months committed to the program prior to an April 23 de-commitment. Parsons used an official visit in Happy Valley this weekend.
High School: DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.)
Recruitment Status: Committed to Penn State on Oct. 26, 2017
Taquan Roberson and DePaul captured a state championship Dec. 2, as he tossed a touchdown and rushed for nearly 100 yards in the title game. This 6-foot, 185-pound playmaker draws comparisons to current Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley, as both have thrived as dual-threat talents while orchestrating an option attack.
Roberson completed 67 percent of his pass attempts for 2,466 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, while throwing only 5 interceptions. He added 573 rushing yards and 4 scores on the ground. Roberson is one of two 2019 prospects pledged to Penn State.
RB Ricky Slade
High School: C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.)
Recruitment Status: Committed to Penn State on Feb. 3, 2017
Ricky Slade was simply sensational as a senior for C.D. Hylton, showing off the talent that could make him an eventual all-purpose replacement for Saquon Barkley. His season included eight games with at least 100 rushing yards, along with an 8-touchdown performance.
Slade finished with 1,978 rushing yards (11.1 per carry) and 40 total touchdowns. Two of those scores occurred on kickoff returns, and he added 22 receptions for 283 yards.