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Penn State might host pair of premier Ohio defensive linemen
Penn State is preparing to open spring camp later this month. Aside from signifying a return to the field for veterans and Nittany Lions newcomers alike, these practices present program showcase opportunities for visiting high school prospects.
March and April are busy months on the recruiting trail, as athletes and their families take advantage of spring break to explore college campuses. Penn State can expect plenty of interested players in Happy Valley, culminating with the spring game on April 21.
Land of 10 reported last week that elite Nittany Lions running back target Devyn Ford will be in town for those festivities. He’ll have substantial company, as high school standouts are now permitted to implement expense-free official visits during the spring of their junior years.
“I’m definitely going to take spring official visits. I’m definitely going to Penn State,” Johnson said. “I don’t know when, but I think me and [5-star defensive end] Zach [Harrison] are going up together, because we live pretty close and we’re pretty tight.”
This potential two-for-one visit could be pivotal for Penn State.
Johnson, a junior at St. Francis DeSales High School, is the No. 12 defensive tackle in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings. Harrison, who attends Olentangy Orange (Lewis Center, Ohio) High School, is the class’ No. 3 overall recruit.
Both players attended the Nittany Lions’ victory over Michigan last season. The Penn State staff has made a positive impression during the course of these recruitments.
“Coach Spence [defensive line coach Sean Spencer] is just a fiery energy type of guy,” Johnson said. “He came to watch me play. That just shows the interest they have in me and that really speaks to me to see him come to my last game. He’s a great guy. I love [defensive recruiting coordinator Terry] Smith; he’s a great guy, too. I love all of them.”
Considering their location, it should come as no surprise that conference rival Ohio State is a program to watch in each situation. Harrison secured a Buckeyes offer in January 2017 and recently visited campus. Urban Meyer hasn’t yet extended an offer to Johnson, but dialogue is well established with Ohio State.
Penn State is still searching for its first verbal commitment from a defensive lineman in the 2019 recruiting cycle. Other notable targets include Antonio Alfano (Rahway, N.J.), Steven Faucheux (West Chester, Ohio) and Mazi Smith (Grand Rapids, Mich.).
Lions listed among favorites for 4-star WR Marcus Washington
Penn State turned its attention toward Trinity Catholic (St. Louis) High School earlier in the 2019 cycle. Teammates Isaiah Williams and Marcus Washington are considered the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, respectively, in Missouri, and both landed Nittany Lions offers in September.
Williams and Washington told Land of 10 in January they viewed Penn State as a potential landing spot, and the latter further reinforced that sentiment Wednesday afternoon.
Washington, a 4-star receiver, tweeted a top-10 list featuring the Nittany Lions:
— Marcus Washington (@_MarcusW11) March 7, 2018
Penn State and Ohio State are the lone Big Ten schools under consideration. This recruitment spans every Power 5 conference, with the other eight favorites featuring Alabama, Florida State, Iowa State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Southern Cal.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound playmaker claims nearly 40 offers, so this is a significant trim-down. Washington, ranked 10th among receivers and 61st overall in composite rankings, is likely to spend his spring actively working through these contenders.
Less than an hour before revealing his favorites, Washington told Land of 10 he plans to visit Penn State soon. Be sure to check out our upcoming recruiting notebooks for an in-depth discussion with Washington and Williams, who also expressed interest in the Nittany Lions.
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