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Penn State in great shape among 4-star OT Rasheed Walker’s top schools
While the Nittany Lions pack plenty of flash in their 2018 recruiting class, much of the hype comes from having four offensive skill players ranked in the top 100 by 247Sports.
Knowing that the skill guys can’t get much done without quality blockers, head coach James Franklin is efficiently piecing together the foundation of a formidable offensive front. That effort — further spurred by spring game pledges from top-25 OTs Nana Asiedu and Antwan Reed — is ongoing and early signs indicate Penn State could be primed to pick up another premier performer in the trenches.
Rasheed Walker, the No. 12-ranked offensive tackle in 2018, is a strong candidate to spend the next few years in State College. The Nittany Lions must contend with a few notable challengers here but Franklin & Co. should feel secure at or near the top of his collegiate pecking order.
“Every time I go [to Penn State], I see something different that I like,” Walker told Land of 10. “I’m impressed by the program overall, and I like the culture and tradition there.”
His most recent trip to the university — a late-January junior day event — had special significance. Walker’s parents joined him, exploring Happy Valley for the first time.
He explained the entire family left campus feeling positive about it as a potential landing spot.
Walker, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound prospect from Waldorf (Md.) North Point High, put Penn State on his list of six favorites last week, alongside Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech:
Lemme Get Ahh 6 piece‼️ pic.twitter.com/KunC5fElnX
— CincoTres (@ShEed_CoOlin) April 20, 2017
The 247sports crystal ball currently points toward Penn State, with the program securing 80 percent of experts’ predictions. Walker, who primarily deals with Nittany Lions assistant coaches Charles Huff and Matt Limegrover, told Land of 10 he aims to announce a commitment before the start of his senior season.
He is still formulating a summer travel itinerary but Penn State and Ohio State are safe bets to be on it. Walker noted he may also explore alternative options, specifically mentioning Florida and LSU as potential trips.
The Nittany Lions made him a long-term priority and Walker continues to reciprocate interest as the team’s trajectory reaches an all-time high under its current regime.
“It’s pretty cool because I saw people predicting it would take 10 years to get where they are now,” he said. “That’s impressive on Coach Franklin’s part.”
Jesse Luketa considered a class leader, enjoys close look at linebackers
His journey toward big-time college football began north of the border, but Jesse Luketa launched himself onto the Power 5 recruiting scene after relocation to Pennsylvania. The Ontario native recorded 69 tackles and 4 interceptions during 9 games as a junior at Mercyhurst Preparatory School, per MaxPreps.
The production and physicality commanded looks from across the country. Luketa, a 6-3, 235-pound linebacker, pledged to Penn State just two days after last National Signing Day.
Other offers continued to arrive in bunches. He added scholarship opportunities at Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma by the end of February.
Nearly three months after his commitment, Luketa returned to the Penn State campus Saturday for the spring game. Penn State projects him at either “Sam” or “Will” linebacker, and he paid particular attention to those positions.
“I was excited to watch the linebackers and see the things they were doing,” he said. “I really got to look closely at the defensive schemes and stunts, and see (OLB) Manny Bowen play. I didn’t get to see (MLB) Jason Cabinda in action but I’m really looking forward to that when the season comes around. Overall, I was really happy to see the linebackers attacking and making plays.”
Luketa will focus on locating top-tier teammates in the 2018 recruiting cycle before attempting to create his own “Linebacker U” legacy. During a Sunday discussion with Land of 10, fellow Penn State commit Ricky Slade pointed to Luketa as a class leader.
He sure sounded like one following the team’s latest commitments.
“We opened some eyes by getting [Asiedu and Reed],” Luketa said. “People are seeing what we have going on in Happy Valley is no joke.”
Florida defensive back keeps Penn State in the mix
The Nittany Lions claim two commitments in the defensive backfield and remain in the hunt for several others at safety and cornerback. In-state studs Isheem Young and Kwantel Raines likely top the target list but Franklin has found success with long-distance defenders.
Secondary pledges Trent Gordon and Isaiah Humphries each attend high school in Texas. Now a Sunshine State product warrants attention.
Jordan Miner, a 4-star cornerback from Wiregrass Ranch (Tampa) High, included the Nittany Lions in his latest narrowed-down list of college interests:
Almost time to turn a dream into reality ⏳?? pic.twitter.com/x8nYpxGRu0
— 1️⃣ (@Jordan_Miner1) April 24, 2017
Miner included schools from four Power 5 conferences, so there is clearly a long way to go in this recruitment. Florida is the unanimous favorite in his 247Sports crystal ball, and with more than half of a 25-team offer sheet seemingly sidelined that outlook isn’t likely to change.
Penn State doesn’t have proximity on its side but the program did jump into this pursuit fairly early, extending an offer in October. Many of the schools that share Miner’s list didn’t pull the trigger until months after his junior season concluded.
Consider this a long shot for the Nittany Lions but the top-30 cornerback recruit isn’t counting Penn State out just yet.