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If there was any doubt, the departure of defensive end Dorian Hardy from Penn State's 2018 class should ensure room for 4-star offensive tackle Rasheed Walker.

Penn State recruiting mailbag: Impact of Dorian Hardy departure; Ricky Slade makes 5-star case

Tyler Donohue

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss a dominant October for running back Ricky Slade, the sudden opening of a scholarship spot and White Out recruiting efforts.


Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started …

Let’s provide some background context before we dive into Stephen’s question.

Dorian Hardy, a 4-star defensive end recruit who committed to Penn State in June, was involved in an altercation Oct. 6 following a Paramus Catholic (N.J.) High School football practice. Initial reports varied on details, leading to speculation about Hardy’s role in an incident that involved at least three other players and an assistant coach.

His father, Charles Hardy, told NJ.com that Dorian “came to the aid” of a teammate who was purposely hit by a helmet as things escalated. He also accused Paramus Catholic assistant coach Michael Mitchell of playing a large role, stating the coach “punched Dorian twice in the face.”

An ensuing report from NJ.com featured testimony from Mitchell, who is the father of a freshman player involved in the altercation. Mitchell explained that his son, Miles, was stuck by Hardy at least twice in a dispute that resulted in a concussion. Miles suffered an apparent seizure in school last Wednesday, sending him to the hospital.

“They tried to kill my son,” Michael Mitchell told NJ.com. “I just hope he makes it through this and isn’t hurt for the rest of his life.”

The fallout has been swift. Hardy is no longer enrolled at Paramus Catholic and no longer is a member of the 2018 Nittany Lions class. Unfortunately, this kind of situation occurs on the college football recruiting trail several times each cycle, and this was Penn State’s turn to internally make a decision.

As someone who has followed Hardy’s rise on the football field since his sophomore season, I hope he’s able to overcome this adversity, regardless of the role he may have played in an ugly incident. For Penn State, though, things move forward with an unexpected scholarship slot available.

So what does this mean?

Well, for starters, it would seem there is now a greater chance of Penn State securing a commitment beyond defensive end. Jayson Oweh, Micah Parsons and Tyreke Smith are top-tier targets at the position, and I like the team’s chances to land two out of three.

But now the door may swing open for another addition on defense, or on offense at receiver or tackle.

Pittsburgh area safety Kwantel Raines is expected on campus this weekend and he’ll announce a commitment Oct. 30. Does this development afford Penn State an opportunity to add a fifth defensive back, one who could grow into a linebacker given his 6-foot-3 frame?

Rasheed Walker, an Army All-American tackle from Waldorf, Md., has long been a prospect of interest. The Nittany Lions landed four offensive linemen between April 22 and Aug. 4, but perhaps the departure of Hardy guarantees Walker a place in this class regardless of when he’s ready to pledge.

Lastly, we still have to look at Phoenix receiver Solomon Enis, the son of former Nittany Lions running back Curtis Enis. The addition of a fourth receiver started to look like a luxury as scholarship slots filled, especially with talented freshmen KJ Hamler and Mac Hippenhammer well on the way toward redshirt seasons. Perhaps this outcome is now a bit more realistic, though I still anticipate Enis ends up with a Pac-12 program.

For now, there are 22 committed players in Penn State’s 2018 class — and slightly more wiggle room.

Let’s keep it rolling with another question from Stephen, who came in firing during our weekly Facebook Live show Wednesday night (which you can watch at 8 p.m. ET here).

This is a timely topic considering the performances Penn State running back commit Ricky Slade has delivered in October. The scintillating 5-9, 185-pound C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, Va.) senior continues to showcase why he’s considered one of high school football’s most electric playmakers.

Here are his statistics through two games in October, both of which resulted in victories:

  • 19 carries for 432 yards and 6 touchdowns
  • 8 receptions for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • 3 kickoff-return touchdowns, averaging 86 yards per return

Let’s quickly do the math here. Combining his totals from the last two contests, Slade averaged 25.2 yards per touch. That’s an outrageous output, and while it’s probably unsustainable, it serves further evidence of his big-play ability.

Check out highlights from the 8-touchdown effort he delivered Oct. 6:

Through seven contests in 2017, Slade has totaled 1,735 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s inserted himself into every Player of the Year conversation in Virginia, and beyond.

So, yes, I am buying Slade as a 5-star recruit. While I don’t hand out the stars in this industry, there is a strong chance those who do will reward his sensational senior season with a slight bump in rankings.

It won’t take much for him to join Penn State receiver pledge Justin Shorter in 5-star territory. Slade is currently the top-ranked 4-star prospect among offensive players in the 247Sports 2018 composite rankings.

Fun times focusing on Slade, but we need to jump into our final question of this mailbag edition. And it centers on the White Out game. Perhaps you’ve heard about it?

 

This one comes from routine tweeter Josh Hunter (@J_Hunter1). Like all Nittany Lions fans, his mind is fixated on a Saturday night showdown against Michigan at Beaver Stadium.

James Franklin has repeatedly implored the Penn State community, near and far, to wear all white for this game. Expect a frenzied collection of perhaps 110,000 people to create a blizzard-like atmosphere and make life quite difficult for the Wolverines.

Aside from a monumental Big Ten matchup, this is a massive recruiting opportunity. We’re still tallying and adding to the final list of guests, which will undoubtedly still be incomplete when we publish it in our Friday recruiting notebook.

However, I can address Josh’s question by stating that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more impressive collection of recruits in one spot anywhere across college football this fall. The Nittany Lions staff will stay tremendously busy hosting elite talent from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 classes.

As usual, a bunch of committed prospects will return to Beaver Stadium. Long-distance cornerback commits Trent Gordon (Texas) and Jordan Miner (Florida) plan to use official visits this weekend, while many unofficial visitors will be under the microscope.

No. 1 overall 2020 recruit Bryan Bresee, a defensive end from Maryland, will make the trip. So will Virginia cornerback Sheridan Jones, the top-ranked cornerback in the 2020 class.

Along with in-state safety Kwantel Raines, elite defensive end Tyreke Smith is another top 2018 target expected to attend. The 2019 guest list features top-ranked inside linebacker Shane Lee, No. 1 defensive end Zach Harrison, former Tennessee Volunteers receiver pledge Kendrell Scurry, and Georgia defensive backs Warren Burrell and DJ Turner.

Again, keep an eye on our recruiting notebook Friday (posted here at 7:20 p.m. ET) for a comprehensive review of visitors. To say the least, Saturday is a huge day for Penn State football, on and off the field.

Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags here.