Penn State recruiting: Nittany Lions out on Ken Montgomery? Plus, focus shifts to tight ends
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On-again, off-again … CB Ken Montgomery reportedly off-again
The recruitment of Ken Montgomery has been pretty difficult to read throughout this 2018 cycle.
He named five finalists for a July 27 commitment — Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, South Florida and UCLA — but had visited only the Tide and Bulls. He chose the Bruins, then de-committed on Halloween.
Last week, the Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.) High star told Land of 10 and 247Sports he intended to use an official visit to Happy Valley during the first weekend of February — the final weekend before National Signing Day (Feb. 7).
“Penn State started recruiting me in the beginning of my junior year and was always in contact with me even when I was committed,” he told Land of 10. “I feel like there would be a spot for me because of the relationship we have.”
Those dynamics have clearly changed — again — as Montgomery will instead this weekend make an official visit to Nebraska, according to Corey Bender of 247Sports. Land of 10 later confirmed this development with Montgomery.
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
A 4-star prospect and the No. 33 cornerback in 2018 247Sports composite rankings, he spent last weekend at Maryland. Despite sharing plans to visit Penn State multiple times the last six months, it seems any trip to Beaver Stadium for Montgomery will occur as a member of an opposing team.
The 6-foot-2, 160-pound prospect is now focused on three schools: Louisville, Maryland and Nebraska.
New Cornhuskers coach Scott Frost has turned his success at Central Florida into an instant recruiting impact for Nebraska. His first class in Lincoln currently features five recruits (one signee) from the Sunshine State, including three who’ve pledged since Jan. 18.
It’s unknown whether Penn State’s level of interest may have played a role in Montgomery’s change of plans. He previously canceled a trip to State College for the July 15 Lasch Bash barbecue, and it remained unclear if the Nittany Lions would ultimately manage to make room in a class that currently has 23 commits, 22 of whom have signed. That rang even truer if top targets Solomon Enis (wide receiver) and Rasheed Walker (tackle) sign next week.
Penn State is still expected to host a blue-chip cornerback this weekend. First reported by 247Sports’ Bull Kurelic, former Maryland commit Noah Boykin will spend time in Happy Valley before traveling to Ohio State as he assesses options before signing day.
The Nittany Lions signed three defensive backs in December, including early enrollees Trent Gordon and Isaiah Humphries.
Nittany Lions target pair of tight end prospects
Our Monday recruiting notebook examined six new targets Penn State offered last weekend. James Franklin and his staff didn’t let up Monday night and Tuesday, sending out another slew of offers to start the week. In the process, the 2019 Penn State target board surpassed 100 players. Among these prospects, the Nittany Lions identified two tight ends of interest.
Penn State hadn’t offered a 2019 tight end since mid-May, when Hudson Henry (Little Rock, Ark.) and Austin Stogner (Plano, Texas) became early priorities. Stogner committed to Oklahoma on June 23. Henry, the No. 1 tight end in the 2019 composite rankings, has three current and former Arkansas players in his immediate family.
That tight end offer number finally grew Monday. One month removed from signing premier 2018 tight end prospects Pat Friermuth and Zack Kuntz, Penn State extended offers to Jahleel Billingsley and Jackson Lowe.
Both are top-15 tight ends per the 247Sports composite rankings and carry nearly 40 combined scholarship offers. Nittany Lions tight ends coach Tyler Bowen, who arrived from Maryland’s staff in December, will obviously play a key role in the process.
Here is a closer look at each recruit, along with video highlights from the 2017 season.
High school: Phillips Academy (Chicago)
Size: 6-5, 230 pounds
Other notable offers: Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Purdue, Syracuse
Billingsley bagged his second Big Ten offer in seven days as Nebraska extended one last Tuesday. Big Ten programs, particularly those in the West Division, are drawn to his formidable physical frame and level of athleticism that creates difficult matchups.
He helped lead Phillips Academy to a Class 5A state championship in 2017. Billingsley caught a touchdown in the state semifinal, according to Eric Ingles of SaukValley.com, then recorded 5 receptions in the title game, according to Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times.
High school: Cartersville (Ga.)
Size: 6-5, 242 pounds
Other notable offers: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Clemson, Michigan, Tennessee
Lowe is among the 2019 class’ major risers this winter, regardless of position. Since Jan. 20, he’s received offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and now Penn State.
“It doesn’t seem real. It just happened so fast,” Lowe told Nicholas Sullivan of the Daily Tribune News last week. “All these colleges are coming in and wanting to talk to me. My head is just spinning right now.”
He caught passes from top-ranked 2018 recruit Trevor Lawrence last season. While Lowe connected with Clemson signee Lawrence just 16 times in 2017 according to MaxPreps, those opportunities resulted in big plays. He averaged 21.3 yards per reception en route to 340 yards and 6 touchdowns in 12 games.
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