Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football 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 us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.
Top-ranked linebacker Shane Lee heading to Happy Valley
The clock is ticking down toward a very eventful Saturday in Happy Valley. ESPN’s College GameDay crew arrived in town Wednesday night, and the Michigan Wolverines aren’t far behind as a national stage develops for this prime-time Big Ten matchup.
There will also be a major influx of top high school prospects this weekend, ranging from committed seniors to on-the-rise sophomores. This collection of recruits should rival practically any found in a college football stadium this season, and you can add elite linebacker Shane Lee to the list.
Lee, a junior at St. Frances Academy (Baltimore), confirmed travel plans Wednesday night during our conversation. The 6-foot, 230-pound playmaker previously visited Happy Valley for multiple recruiting events, including July 15 Lasch Bash festivities.
Considered the No. 1 inside linebacker in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings, he carries scholarship offers from Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame and several other schools. The Buckeyes hosted him for a July 21 camp, while the in-state Terrapins present another potential Big Ten destination.
Lee landed a Nittany Lions offer last October, midway through his sophomore season at St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) High School. Prior to transferring to St. Frances, he competed alongside fellow Penn State targets Quinten Johnson (2019; safety), Keilan Robinson (2019; running back) and Mekhail Sherman (2020; linebacker).
James Franklin has made the “DMV” region (D.C. -Maryland-Virginia) a primary concern on the recruiting trail since his arrival. Penn State carries four commits from the area in its 2018 class: offensive tackle Nana Asiedu, receiver Daniel George, defensive tackle PJ Mustipher and running back Ricky Slade.
The 2019 class will be well-represented in Beaver Stadium this weekend, as top-ranked defensive end Zack Harrison, former Tennessee Volunteers receiver commit Kendrell Scurry and 4-star Virginia defensive back Cam’Ron Kelly are among those expected to join Lee in attendance.
Be sure to read our Friday notebook for a comprehensive review of anticipated recruiting visits.
Check out Lee’s sophomore-season highlights here:
Penn State commits pursue 4-star OT Rasheed Walker
Rasheed Walker reached an early career milestone Wednesday. The 4-star offensive tackle recruit received his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey, and will represent North Point (Waldorf, Md.) High School at the Jan. 6 showcase event in San Antonio.
That’s where he plans to announce a commitment, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports. Wiltfong also reports Penn State is on a short list of contenders, joined by Maryland, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are locked in a few notable recruiting battles as this 2018 cycle approaches its final stretch. Walker could end up on either side of the conference rivalry, along with defensive ends Jayson Oweh, Micah Parsons and Tyreke Smith.
Two Penn State pledges made their feelings known about Walker on social media Wednesday afternoon. First, it was linebacker Jesse Luketa, a consistently vocal leader of the Nittany Lions class who pushes hard in peer recruiting efforts.
— Jesse Luketa (@OttawasVeryOwn) October 18, 2017
A few hours later, Fredrick Scruggs chimed in on the matter. Considered the top 2018 offensive lineman in Pennsylvania, he hopes Walker becomes commitment No. 5 along the offensive front for Penn State.
Big facts🦁 https://t.co/5pjOKbzulu
— Supa (@JuiceScruggs) October 18, 2017
Walker, listed 11th among offensive tackles in composite rankings, spent time with several Nittany Lions commits during the Lasch Bash. Multiple positive visits to Penn State seemed to put the program in prime position to secure his pledge this summer.
Instead, Walker elected to extend his recruiting process into the season. While it remains unclear when he may travel to Happy Valley next, expectations are in place for it to happen.
Since he doesn’t plan to decide until January, there is plenty of time to schedule an official visit. The Nittany Lions staff could aim to match those dates with times when a large chunk of the class is also in town, capitalizing on camaraderie.
In other words, what we see on social media is only a small fraction of the full-court press players like Luketa, Scruggs and fellow Maryland lineman Mustipher are applying toward Walker.
Nittany Lions add another 2019 target in Virginia DB Litchfield Ajavon
Earlier, I mentioned Penn State’s frequent focus on the DMV region when it comes to recruiting. The program’s latest offer provides further proof of its importance.
Litchfield Ajavon, a 4-star safety who attends Episcopal (Alexandria, Va.) High School, is the newest target. He reported this development Wednesday night:
— Litchfield Ajavon (@litch_ajavon) October 19, 2017
Ajavon, considered a top-200 prospect in 2019 composite rankings, has seen his popularity skyrocket among college football staffs this year. His lengthy list of options includes Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot, 185-pound prospect is an explosive talent. He particularly stands out in run defense, providing physicality and decisiveness in the open field.
Ajavon collected 72 tackles in 2016, according to Jim McGrath of RecruitNoVa. He also brings outstanding speed to the defensive backfield, exhibited by a winter track and field championship in the Virginia Independent School Division I 55-meter hurdles (7.92 seconds).
Ajavon visited Notre Dame earlier this season and the Fighting Irish appear to be a strong contender here. Penn State’s plan of attack will involve bringing him to campus in order to provide a sense of familiarity before he begins to trim down college options.
Jonathan Sutherland, a freshman Penn State safety, also attended Episcopal.
Watch Ajavon’s latest junior-season highlights here:
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