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Penn State prospects enjoy official visit weekend
Penn State welcomed nearly 20 high school seniors to campus last weekend, including 14 committed members of its 2018 recruiting class. These prospects partook in official visits together, strengthening their relationships while pursuing primary Nittany Lions targets who also spent Friday through Sunday in State College.
It was easily the most notable Penn State recruiting event before college football’s new early signing period (Dec. 20-22). Players were joined on campus by family members, creating an intimate setting with Nittany Lions coaches.
“There were so many great moments throughout the weekend, so it’s hard to call one of them my highlight,” Penn State quarterback commit Will Levis said. “If I had to choose one, though, it would be the dinners we had with all the recruits and their families, staff members, and some current players as well. It was great to spend time with them and pick their brains about what to expect when we got there. We were also treated with some amazing food.”
The array of pledges in attendance included a trio of linebackers (Jesse Luketa, Charlie Katshir and Nick Taburton), top-10 tight end prospects Pat Freiermuth and Zack Kuntz, and 5-star offensive playmakers Justin Shorter and Ricky Slade.
“It’s not always easy getting everyone in the same place for us to hang out with each other so just being around everyone is lots of fun,” Kuntz said.
While several of these future teammates crossed paths this fall at Nittany Lions games or previously spent time together for mid-July Lasch Bash festivities, this was an extended opportunity to establish increased rapport.
“The highlight of my weekend would definitely be all the bonding time that we got to have,” receiver Daniel George said. “It was great having almost everyone down and enjoying ourselves.”
RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board
Kicker Jake Pinegar, who has a strong chance to compete for starting duties in 2018, believes the experience sets the stage for a close-knit freshman class once they enroll.
“Just forming more of a bond together as a family,” he said. “Spending every minute with those guys and the coaches made the weekend special.”
— D George (@11DanielGeorge) December 11, 2017
Along with this group of pledges, Penn State hosted a trio of primary uncommitted targets. Offensive tackle Rasheed Walker and defensive ends Micah Parsons and Tyreke Smith — each considered top-10 prospects at their position in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings — also joined in the fun.
“I think that we made a good impression on the uncommitted few,” George said. “We were all talking and it seems as though they fit in well with us.”
Parsons was actually the first building block of this 2018 class. He spent 14 months pledged to Penn State prior to an April 23 de-commitment, though his recruitment now appears to be trending back toward Happy Valley. He will announce a decision Dec. 20.
Smith is another elite talent along the defensive front, and he posted a photo of him (No. 4) and Parsons (No. 23) wearing Nittany Lions uniforms along with Penn State commits Aeneas Hawkins (No. 27) and Judge Culpepper.
— Tyreke Smith™ (@T_23_baller) December 11, 2017
Smith will reveal his collegiate commitment Jan. 4 during the Under Armour All-America Game. Walker is a strong candidate to pair with fellow top-10 tackle Nana Asiedu, who was also on campus during the weekend.
Those already in the Penn State class expressed confidence about the impact this weekend made on their chances to add more top talent to an impressive class.
“I think the visit made an extremely impressive impression on the uncommitted guys, and I know for a fact they all had an outstanding time,” Levis said. “We’re in a really good spot to land those recruits, and I expect to see the class size increase very shortly.”
Penn State presently carries 20 players in a class considered No. 5 overall in composite rankings. It may only be a matter of time before the Nittany Lions again rise on that list.
“I think we left a great impression on the uncommitted guys and I’d be watching closely for recruiting news from them,” Kuntz said.
Ultimately, there is a belief these three prospects in particular mesh well with their peers who’ve chose to play at Penn State.
“I think they see how we are as a family,” Pinegar said. “Everybody has each other’s back and we all have the same goals in mind and I think that they saw that come out of us as a unit this weekend.”
— Will Levis (@will_levis) December 11, 2017
Nittany Lions commit Ricky Slade named Player of the Year in Virginia
Slade was simply sensational as a senior at C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) High School. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound prospect was an all-purpose sensation throughout the season, resulting in consideration for several postseason accolades.
Pledged to Penn State since Feb. 3, Slade received an esteemed honor Monday when he was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia.
— Hudl (@Hudl) December 11, 2017
Slade, a 5-star talent and top-25 overall recruit, slashed through defenses en route to 1,978 rushing yards in 2017. He averaged 11.1 yards per carry, gaining at least 100 yards on the ground in eight contests.
Slade added 22 receptions for 283 yards, while contributing at a high level on kick-return duties. He accounted for 40 touchdowns, highlighted by an 8-score performance in October.
Penn State likely faces the challenge of replacing Mr. Do-It-All playmaker Saquon Barkley next season. While returning players such as Miles Sanders and Journey Brown have an edge in experience within the program, expect Slade to make his case for consideration next summer while Nittany Lions coaches sort out the offensive backfield.
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