Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of recruiting rankings! Don’t miss any of the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as both a national CFB reporter and 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 on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
Say goodbye to two commits and welcome a new pair of Penn State pledges as the 2018 recruiting cycle reaches post-spring camp territory.
The Nittany Lions entered Friday with 12 commitments in a class deemed No. 1 overall among Big Ten squads in the 247Sports composite rankings. That total remains the same Monday but a weekend loaded with developments shuffled the deck in some very notable ways.
As we documented earlier Monday, in-state linemen Micah Parsons (5-star defensive end) and Chris Bleich (3-star offensive tackle) — both on board with Penn State’s class for more than a year — de-committed.
Earlier in the weekend, head coach James Franklin secured two pregame pickups Saturday, landing OTs Nana Asiedu (ranked No. 9 at the position, per composite rankings) and Antwan Reed (No. 25).
But let’s face it — not all recruits are created equal. Parsons, who is ranked the country’s No. 1 weakside defensive end and No. 3 overall recruit, is undoubtedly the primary focus among Penn State fans Monday.
So, is Micah Parsons gone for good?
Nittany Lions supporters shouldn’t be burning any bridges with the Harrisburg High junior just yet. His father, Terrence, is admittedly a lifelong Penn State fan, and Micah himself declared the school remains his leader during an interview with Adam Friedman of Rivals.com.
“I talked to coach Franklin in person there and over the phone today and thought this would be the best decision for right now,” he told Friedman. “They’re still my top school right now.”
Parsons pointed to Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State — where he visited April 15 for the Buckeyes’ spring game — as possible destinations in his upcoming travel plan. However, he indicated a return trip to Happy Valley is also part of the equation.
“Coach Franklin said he wants me to bring my whole family up there to talk to him,” Parsons told Friedman.
Needless to say, the conversations that transpire during his next stop in State College could prove pivotal. Don’t be surprised if he utilizes at least a few official visits this fall before announcing college intentions, which may not be known until National Signing Day.
Ricky Slade earns invitation to “football heaven”
News circulating around Penn State’s 5-star commits wasn’t all negative during the weekend. Running back Ricky Slade, who pledged to the program in February, punched his ticket to The Opening Finals following an impressive performance at a regional camp in Centreville, Va., on Sunday.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) April 23, 2017
Slade, ranked No. 1 among all-purpose backs in the composite rankings, will join more than 100 high school talents at Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., this summer. The showcase, which annually features multiple NFL stars as instructors, is commonly referred to as “football heaven”
His inclusion continues a tradition for Penn State running back recruits, including Saquon Barkley (2014) and Miles Sanders (2015).
Fellow 5-star Nittany Lions pledge Justin Fields may ultimately join Slade in Beaverton. The nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback already qualified for Elite 11 finals June 2-4 in Los Angeles, placing him in position to lock down a spot in the Elite 11 MVP race at The Opening.
Fields and Slade were both on campus Saturday for the Penn State spring game. They are the top-ranked committed players following Parsons’ departure.
“We’re building something special,” Slade told Land of 10 on Sunday. “We’re just going to keep going up from here. We’re going to keep moving up spots [in recruiting class rankings].”
He rushed for 1,509 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior at C.D. Hylton (Va.) High School, per MaxPreps. Slade added 25 receptions for 338 yards and 4 scores in 10 games.
Penn State coordinator discusses recruits’ chemistry at spring game
Nittany Lions special teams coordinator/running backs coach Charles Huff fielded a slew of questions about the current Penn State roster Saturday after the spring game concluded. However, his outlook advanced toward the future during a discussion with Land of 10.
Members of the 2018 class spent hours inside or near Beaver Stadium, soaking up the pregame festivities, catching up with coaches and showing off their eventual home turf to family members. Huff views occasions such as this as an opportunity to strengthen teammate accountability down the line.
“Anytime you can bring a family together, spend time together and laugh together — especially young kids — is always good,” he said. “It allows them to build relationships. It continues to help us recruit and continues to help build their bond.”
The group also had an opportunity to meet their predecessors — the 2017 recruiting class. Recent signees, swiftly approaching summer enrollment, introduced themselves to a crowd of 71,000 fans before the game.
“Now when they come in the summer, it’s kind of like ‘Hey, I’ve known you for 2 years now. I know who you are,'” Huff said. “It’s changed a bit since I was in college [at Hampton University]. Parents dropped you off and you didn’t know anybody.”
Younger players such as 4-star 2018 tight end commit Pat Freiermuth, was grateful for a chance to gain more familiarity with the incoming freshmen.
“It was great to get to know them,” he said. “They’ve been a part of the Penn State family a little longer than us and kind of gave us some perspective of what’s to come. They told us to keep our heads down, keep working hard and this is just the beginning of a process that’s going to help us build together in the next few years.”