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Recent Penn State QB target Jace Ruder finds college fit
The Nittany Lions turned to Kansas standout Jace Ruder within days of the de-commitment by 5-star QB Justin Fields. Coach James Franklin and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead identified Ruder as an alternative target earlier this month and extended a scholarship offer.
Ruder, 6-foot-3, 205-pound rising senior at Norton High School, enjoyed a substantially elevated recruitment this spring. He ended a verbal pledge to Tulsa on May 20, days after receiving offers from Florida State and North Carolina.
Ruder committed to the Tar Heels on Monday after spending multiple days in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina hosted Ruder following his visits to Florida State and Georgia. He is the second compelling quarterback commit for Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora this month, joining former Michigan Wolverines target Tyler Shough.
Considered a 3-star recruit and the No. 17 dual-threat quarterback in 247Sports’ 2018 composite rankings, Ruder elected to end his recruitment almost as quickly as it expanded. Penn State never had an opportunity to welcome him to campus, while Baylor and Ole Miss were among others to offer in June.
“It’s been very exciting, to say the least, for a kid from a small town in Kansas to have a lot of these big-time schools coming out to see me,” Ruder told Gardner Royce of KWCH 12 News. “At the same time, it’s very overwhelming because it’s a lot to think about. … Time is limited during the summer, so I have to be careful about where I choose to go and visit.”
Fields is now focused on Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Georgia, according to Zach Abolverdi of SEC Country. His second collegiate commitment could occur sometime this summer, and Penn State must continue to shift focus in the search for his replacement.
With Ruder off the board, Elite 11 finalists Devin Leary (New Jersey) and Quincy Patterson (Illinois) are other potential interests. Those two are committed to North Carolina State and Virginia Tech, respectively.
Former Nittany Lions commit Chris Bleich is headed west
Ruder wasn’t the only target on Penn State’s 2018 recruiting board to locate his college home Monday. Former Nittany Lions pledge Chris Bleich, an in-state tackle, announced his intention to attend UCLA.
— Chris Bleich 🇺🇸 (@Bleich72) June 20, 2017
The 6-6, 305-pound Bleich spent more than a year in Penn State’s class. He initially committed to the Nittany Lions in March 2016 and stuck with that decision until April 21.
He backed off that verbal pledge one day before the program’s spring game. Franklin responded by collecting two offensive line commitments on April 22, and he’s since added a third blocker to the 2018 talent haul.
Bleich, who was considered a strong candidate to land with Nebraska and visited the Cornhuskers this spring, bagged a Bruins offer in May. An opportunity to play on the West Coast apparently was too promising for him to pass up.
“Going into my sophomore year I told my dad I want to play football where no one has ever [played] before from this valley,” he wrote. “Today I can say I kept my word to my dad.”
Bleich visited Happy Valley last week at the request of Penn State staff, according to Sean Fitz of 247Sports. Now approaching his senior season at Wyoming Valley West (Plymouth, Pa.) High, he is listed No. 37 nationally among tackles in the 2018 composite rankings.
Penn State remains very much in the mix for top-tier offensive line talent. Targets include 4-star Maryland product Rasheed Walker, in-state standout Fredrick Scruggs, and 6-9, 290-pound junior college blocker T.J. Bradley.
Fresh off MVP showing at Penn State, Micah Parsons set to see another Big Ten campus
Another former Penn State pledge made news Monday when 5-star DE Micah Parsons declared plans to visit Nebraska. The 6-3, 235-pound playmaker will travel to Lincoln this weekend.
Parsons, like Bleich, spent more than a year in the Nittany Lions class. He de-committed from Penn State on April 23 after spending spring game weekend in State College.
Parsons previously mentioned Nebraska as a contender during an April conversation with Land of 10. Nebraska and Ohio State, which he visited April 15, are primary in-conference challengers to the Nittany Lions in this pursuit.
His summer travel itinerary also is likely to include Alabama, while Florida, Florida State and Miami also are among programs Parsons placed in a top-nine list last month. He plans to trim that collection before his senior season.
After my summer visits I'll make my top 5
— BLESSEDMVP (@Micah_parsons23) June 19, 2017
Penn State remains in the mix despite his de-commitment. Parsons has traveled to campus multiple times this month, delivering a sensational performance last Saturday during the Nittany Lions’ 7-on-7 tournament.
He played receiver, linebacker and defensive end during a long day of competition that culminated in event MVP honors. Parsons spearheaded Harrisburgh (Pa.) High to the championship in a tournament that featured 55 teams.
Almost 60 teams competed at #PSU 7-on-7 tournament
Meet the champs: Harrisburg
Franklin (center in pic) hands MVP trophy to Micah Parsons. pic.twitter.com/bvILxO7ToX
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) June 17, 2017
Parsons is considered the No. 4 recruit overall and No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania in 2018 composite rankings. This spring, he told Land of 10 that five official visits are likely and a decision may not happen until National Signing Day in February.