Another month of the college football recruiting cycle is complete, as May ends and spring seeps into summer. It was an eventful 31 days for Penn State, which added to its 2018 class, landed on several favorites lists, and extended scholarship offers to a slew of high school sophomores.
Penn State finishes May where it started the month — sitting atop 247Sports’ 2018 composite Big Ten recruiting class rankings. Ohio State briefly bumped the Nittany Lions back to No. 2 before recent industry rankings updates allowed Penn State to overtake the Buckeyes.
Here’s a glimpse at the top of the Big Ten class rankings entering June, including each program’s composite score:
- Penn State Nittany Lions (13 commits) – 228.13
- Ohio State Buckeyes (10 commits) – 228.10
- Nebraska Cornhuskers (11 commits) – 184.27
- Michigan Wolverines (10 commits) – 177.62
- Northwestern Wildcats (13 commits) – 154.36
Penn State is listed No. 2 in overall class rankings, behind only Miami. The Nittany Lions have become a catalyst for a breakout Big Ten cycle that features four conference members in top-10 territory.
Now that we’ve provided an overview of where things stand, let’s get to the details. Here’s a rundown of key developments you need to know about from another busy month.
5-star QB Justin Fields is a wanted man
Committed to Penn State since December, 5-star QB Justin Fields seems to receive new accolades each day. He is invited to multiple postseason All-America events; competes in the Elite 11 finals June 2-4 in Los Angeles; and 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals each elevated him to a top-10 overall prospect this spring.
Along the way, several colleges have increased efforts to flip Fields from the Nittany Lions. Auburn, Florida, Georgia and LSU each visited during his final week of spring camp. Florida State is another Southeast school that warrants attention here.
As we detailed in a May 23 story about Fields’ recruitment and his performance in Harrison (Ga.) High School’s spring game, several squads reach out to him on a daily basis. He estimates about five Gators coaches contact him every day.
“It definitely has my mind spinning with all these schools coming at me,” Fields told our colleague Jeff Sentell of SEC Country. “But it is definitely just a great feeling to get this recognition from these schools. I’m actually seeing all this hard work pay off. It is great to see all these colleges come for me. That is really what I always wanted.”
SEC Country reporter Chris Kirschner caught up with Fields’ father, Ivant, before passing along that interview for our Penn State coverage. Ivant expressed a strong rapport with Penn State coaches, though he admitted the process of working through 40 scholarship offers shouldn’t be taken lightly by a teenage athlete.
“I think when you’re a young man, and you have your whole life, a lot of times you just second-guess whether this is the right decision and things of that nature,” Ivant Fields said. “We’re letting him work that out within himself. It’s part of being a man — evolving. He’s a young man on the brink of being a man, so he has to figure that out.”
Fields accounted for 4 touchdowns in one half of action at his spring game on May 20.
Don’t count Penn State out of the Micah Parsons pursuit
Micah Parsons, a 5-star defensive end from Harrisburg (Pa.) High, probably provided the most prominent Nittany Lions recruiting headline of April by announcing his de-commitment one day after attending Penn State’s spring game. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect told Land of 10 on April 30 he desired a “fresh start” for his recruitment after spending 14 months as a pledge.
It looks like this fresh start features a familiar contender — Penn State.
Parsons listed the Nittany Lions among nine favorites May 26. That announcement occurred just five days after Harrisburg teammate and fellow Penn State target Shaqon Anderson-Butts told Land of 10 that a solid relationship still exists between the nation’s top-ranked edge rusher and the staff in State College.
“It’s kind of getting back to normal now for Micah,” Anderson-Butts said. “He still talks to Penn State, so it’s not like he just de-committed and didn’t want to deal with those coaches anymore. Everybody is understanding, and everybody is cool with it.”
Anderson-Butts, a 3-star receiver, will accompany Parsons on at least a pair of campus visits this summer. The two share upcoming travel plans to Alabama and Florida, and both stated a “package” deal is possible.
Nittany Lions land another offensive lineman
May was relatively quiet for Penn State in terms of concrete results on the 2018 recruiting trail. However, it did bring along a third member of James Franklin’s offensive line class in the form of Illinois blocker Bryce Effner.
The 6-5, 275-pound Metea Valley High School junior joined Nana Asiedu and Antwan Reed with his commitment on May 6. All three pledges took place in a two-week span, following the de-commitment of in-state lineman Chris Bleich on April 21.
“I loved talking to all the coaches at Penn State,” Effner told Bob Norang of the Aurora Beacon-News. “I really loved the amount of detail they took with me. No other school put [in] so much detail and effort to impress me.”
An aggressive run blocker with above-average lateral mobility, the 3-star recruit is a compelling candidate to compete in multiple roles along the Nittany Lions offensive front.
Penn State secures a spot on several notable ‘top’ lists
‘Tis the season for trimming down collegiate options.
We witnessed dozens of prospects post their “top” lists in May, ranging from two finalists to 16 contenders. While these larger lists don’t do much to shed light on recruiting situations, they at least show what schools are still in the mix.
Penn State seemed to make an appearance with regularity during recent weeks. The program’s recruiting efforts particularly resonated with defensive recruits this month.
Below is a list of defenders who formally placed the Nittany Lions among contenders via May reveals:
- 4-star DT Keondre Coburn (Houston, Texas)
- 4-star DT Tyler Friday (Ramsey, N.J.)
- 4-star DT Aeneas Hawkins (Cincinnati, Ohio)
- 4-star LB Jack Lamb (Temecula, Calif.)
- 3-star DE Jayson Oweh (Blairstown, N.J.)
- 5-star DE Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, Pa.)
- 4-star S Kwantel Raines (Aliquippa, Pa.)
- 4-star DT Trevor Trout (St. Louis, Mo.)
Among this group, Oweh seems to be most outwardly excited about the Nittany Lions. The 6-5, 236-pound Blair Academy (N.J.) tight end and defensive end has secured 22 offers since Jan. 29, but Penn State sticks out following a visit to Happy Valley on May 20.
“Penn State has always been up there,” he told Land of 10. “Right now they’re like top two. The second would probably be Ohio State, Notre Dame or Wisconsin.”
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) May 22, 2017
Oweh aims to announce a commitment before December, then finalize his decision during the inaugural early signing period (Dec. 20-22). The Nittany Lions are in particularly strong shape with him, Friday and 4-star Maryland DT PJ Mustipher.
Staff steps up search for elite 2019 talent
The spring evaluation period is always intriguing, as analysts gain clarity on what a coaching staff is searching for at various positions. Following the conclusion of spring camp, Nittany Lions assistants logged thousands of miles in the sky and on highways to locate highly touted sophomore talent.
Below is a list of notable new offers that were presented to 2019 recruits in May.
- 4-star LB Marcel Brooks (Flower Mound, Texas)
- 4-star DT Rashad Cheney Jr. (Atlanta, Ga.)
- 4-star DE Steven Faucheux (West Chester, Ohio)
- 4-star TE Hudson Henry (Little Rock, Ark.)
- 4-star CB Cam’Ron Kelly (Chesapeake, Va.)
- 4-star OT John Olmstead (Metuchen, N.J.)
- 4-star WR Kendrell Scurry (Thompson’s Station, Tenn.)
- Unrated DE Billy Sonnier (Lafayette, La.)
- 4-star TE Austin Stogner (Plano, Texas)
- 3-star S Kenyatta Watson II (Loganville, Ga.)
- 3-star CB Raymond Woodie III (Zephyrhills, Fla.)