Penn State has extended more scholarship offers to 2019 prospects in Ohio than any other state that features a Big Ten football program, including Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions’ recruiting board includes eight athletes who are high school juniors in Ohio, led by 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison.
Annually a competitive recruiting landscape among conference foes, Ohio is home to 10 blue-chip prospects (4- or 5-star talents) in 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings. Among this group, eight are projected to play in the trenches during their collegiate career, and that’s where you’ll find several Penn State targets.
Recent Nittany Lions signees who starred as prep players in Ohio include quarterback Sean Clifford (2017), and defensive linemen Aeneas Hawkins (2018) and Antonio Shelton (2016).
Here’s a look at the eight Ohio prospects who’ve picked up a Penn State offer during the 2019 cycle. Be sure to check out recent lists for elite Nittany Lions targets from Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas.
8. DE Noah Potter
High school: Mentor
Composite ranking: No. 19 strongside defensive end; No. 233 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wisconsin
Penn State hosted Noah Potter on campus three times before offering him on Oct. 5, and he quickly returned for an Oct. 21 matchup vs. Michigan. Ohio State supplied a key new dynamic in this recruitment one week later when it entered the mix.
Potter totaled 68 tackles — 8 for loss — and 10 sacks in 2017, according to MaxPreps. Georgia, Notre Dame and Tennessee have each offered since mid-February.
“I’m a defensive end that can rush on either side of the line,” Potter told Land of 10. “I have a good speed and power blend. I have a high motor and I think I’m one of the best defensive ends in the country.”
7. DL Steven Faucheux
High school: Lakota West (West Chester)
Composite ranking: No. 16 strongside defensive end; No. 207 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Alabama, Louisville, Tennessee, West Virginia
The Nittany Lions are in enviable position based on his recent comments to Blue-White Illustrated’s Ryan Snyder. Steven Faucheux explained “PSU is in the top part of [favorites] list” and he’ll be back in State College for an unofficial visit on April 7.
Faucheux started collecting Power 5 scholarship offers during his sophomore season, and Penn State entered this pursuit last May. The Nittany Lions view him as a valuable contributor along the defensive front.
“Coaches have told me they like my versatility — they see me as a strongside defensive end who can drop down inside as well,” Faucheux told Land of 10. “They also say they like my pass rush, how I get off blocks and find the ball, my aggressiveness and how I use my length.”
6. OL Zeke Correll
High school: Anderson (Cincinnati)
Composite ranking: No. 10 guard; No. 202 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Clemson, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State
Penn State secured Cincinnati recruits in each of its past two classes (Sean Clifford and Aeneas Hawkins), and James Franklin’s focus returns to the Southwestern Ohio city for a pair of linemen, including Zeke Correll. He may prove difficult to pry away from the Buckeyes, but Penn State has managed to make a positive impression.
“I’d say Ohio State and Notre Dame are the top of my list right now,” Correll told Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly in late February. “Those are the ones that are recruiting me the most, so I’d say they’re my top right now. … Ohio State is definitely No. 1 in terms of who I’m hearing the most from. Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Penn State are probably the three I’m hearing from the most right now.”
It’s worth noting Notre Dame lost offensive line coach Harry Hiestand to the Chicago Bears this offseason.
— Zeke Correll (@zekecorrell) November 18, 2017
5. DT Rodas Johnson
High school: St. Francis DeSales (Columbus)
Composite ranking: No. 12 defensive tackle; No. 201 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
Rodas Johnson attends high school in the Buckeyes’ backyard but doesn’t carry an Ohio State offer. Dialogue is well established with Urban Meyer’s staff, but Penn State is the Big Ten program primed to host him for an early official visit.
“I’m definitely going to take spring official visits. I’m definitely going to Penn State,” he told Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly. “I don’t know when, but I think me and [5-star defensive end] Zach [Harrison] are going up together, because we live pretty close and we’re pretty tight.”
Johnson secured a Nittany Lions offer last August and attended the team’s victory over Michigan. His impending visit — and relationship with Harrison — warrant attention.
4. LB Cade Stover
High school: Lexington (Mansfield)
Composite ranking: No. 8 outside linebacker; No. 122 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Wisconsin
Cade Stover carries more than 20 scholarship offers, and his interest spans various Power 5 conferences. He plans to use an official visit to Oklahoma this spring, per 247Sports’ Alex Gleitman, and Ohio State will remain a centerpiece of this recruitment until its conclusion.
The Nittany Lions welcomed him to camp multiple times in 2017, but Penn State’s quest for talent at linebacker appears likely to lead elsewhere. Odds are in favor of Stover returning to Beaver Stadium in a Buckeyes uniform someday.
Through three high school seasons, Stover has collected 443 tackles, according to the Richland Source’s Curt Conrad.
3. OL Nolan Rumler
High school: Archbishop Hoban (Akron)
Composite ranking: No. 4 guard; No. 93 overall
Recruitment status: Committed to Michigan on July 29, 2017
The Michigan Wolverines identified Nolan Rumler as an early priority, providing him with a scholarship offer during his freshman season. He pledged to Jim Harbaugh last July.
In possession of several Big Ten offers, his latest Power 5 options beyond Ann Arbor include Clemson and West Virginia (both offered in late January). Rumler is one of three top-100 overall recruits committed to Michigan’s 2019 class.
2. DT Jowon Briggs
High school: Walnut Hills (Cincinnati)
Composite ranking: No. 4 defensive tackle; No. 76 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State
Jowon Briggs became the first 2019 Ohio prospect to bag a Buckeyes offer during his sophomore season. A long list of Big Ten offers has expanded to include Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin.
Expect Notre Dame to be a major factor. Ohio State increased its communication recently with Briggs, according to Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly.
1. DE Zach Harrison
High school: Olentangy Orange (Lewis Center, Ohio)
Composite ranking: No. 2 weakside defensive end; No. 3 overall
Recruitment status: Uncommitted; contenders include Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Southern Cal
This recruitment may be on course for another Buckeyes-Nittany Lions showdown. These rivals battled for top-10 defensive ends Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith in the 2018 cycle, culminating in both programs signing one.
Zach Harrison has spent significant time at both universities and, as noted above, he may soon return alongside 4-star defensive tackle Rodas Johnson. It remains to be seen if faraway Power 5 programs will be able to shake things up among his top options.
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound prospect runs a verified 4.62-second 40-yard dash, per 247Sports’ Barton Simmons. Harrison secured 35 tackles — 18.5 for loss — and 7.5 sacks last season, according to Eleven Warriors’ Andrew Lind.