Penn State has plenty of reasons to celebrate signing day, a 3OT thriller and more
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Things (mostly) fall into place for Lions
In the end, Mark Webb did not sign with Penn State, but Tariq Castro-Fields did.
Those were about the only unknowns heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday. Webb, the 4-star wide receiver from suburban Philadelphia, stuck with his verbal commitment to Georgia, despite a late push by the Nittany Lions.
And Castro-Fields, a 4-star cornerback from Upper Marlboro, Md., ultimately opted for the Lions over Maryland, though Alabama had been in the mix for a very long time as well.
Asked at a news conference Wednesday when he made his final call, Castro-Fields said the following, per the Washington Post:
“Literally five seconds before I put the (PSU) hat on. It was that close. 50-50.”
The only other surprise was the commitment of Corey Bolds, a 3-star defensive tackle from Paramus, N.J. He had also considered Rutgers and Minnesota.
That left the Lions with 21 recruits, a class ranked no worse than 15th in the country and third in the Big Ten by the major services.
And it left coach James Franklin feeling so happy that he invited his assistants over to his house for a big blowout Wednesday night. As he said, per Fight on State:
“We’re going to get after it pretty good.”
Franklin didn’t think this year’s Big Ten championship had much impact on the new batch of recruits, though he believes it will hit home with classes the next two years. Offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis did not necessarily agree:
“When we first got the job (in January 2014), we were selling them on a vision. This time around, we were able to go in with a championship trophy and show them that the process works.”
The coaches seem particularly high on C.J. Thorpe, a guard from Pittsburgh Central Catholic. Defensive recruiting coordinator Terry Smith called Thorpe “one of the best players in this recruiting class” and predicted he would have “an immediate impact.”
And Franklin added the following:
“He’s a grown man. He’s an offensive lineman with a nastiness to him. He wants to finish you.”
Lamont Wade, a 5-star cornerback from Clairton, was one of four recruits to enroll in January. Smith said Wade, who also played running back in high school, will be given an opportunity on both sides of the ball but will focus on his defensive responsibilities in spring practice.
Franklin said defensive end Yetur Matos, a defensive end from Fredericksburg, Va., “may be the sleeper of the class.” Smith said Jonathan Sutherland, a safety from Alexandria, Va., is a physical player along the lines of current safety Marcus Allen.
And on and on.
Plenty of reason to celebrate, they believe.
Meanwhile, on the hardwood
Thomas Bryant scored a career-high 31 points as Indiana outlasted Penn State 110-102 in triple overtime Wednesday in Bloomington, Ind.
Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson notched 27 points apiece, two more career bests, to propel the Hoosiers (15-8). And Newkirk’s game-tying layup at the end of the first overtime was upheld on replay review, even though there are video angles that appear to show the ball ever so slightly touching his fingertips after time expired.
PSU’s Lamar Stevens poured in 26 points for yet another a career high, and Tony Carr collected 23 points and 14 assists. His assist total was the highest by a Nittany Lions player since 1973, and he and Mike Watkins (12 points, 11 rebounds) became the first Penn State players to have double-doubles in the same game in nine years.
The Lions (12-11) host Rutgers on Saturday.