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P.J. Mustipher is one of the main reasons why Penn State's recruiting class is so highly regarded by outlets such as ESPN.

Recruiting has put Penn State among elite; Nittany Lions make an impact hosting juniors

Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

Grouped together

How has Penn State put their name among the perennial college football contenders?

Simple. Recruiting.

Sam Kahn Jr. of ESPN.com writes that the talent Penn State is stockpiling along the defensive front has made them one of the elite defensive lines in college football. The talent is on par with the likes of Clemson and Georgia.

Writes Kahn:

The Nittany Lions have made it a point to attack defensive line and linebacker. Chances are, if you’re really good there, you’re going to win a lot of football games.

So far, Penn State has added defensive ends Micah Parsons, Jayson Oweh and Judge Culpepper, defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher and Aeneas Hawkins during the early signing period.

The offer is there

Penn State had a successful junior day last weekend, resulting in several offers, writes Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue:

James Franklin and his staff are preparing to put the finishing touches on an impressive 2018 class Wednesday but the weekend provided a prime opportunity to focus further into the future. The list of visitors included blue-chip players such as offensive lineman Caedan Wallace and receivers David Bell and John Metchie.

In other words, as been noted, Penn State has been hitting it hard for the Class of 2019, despite few commitments.

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Still kicking

Sam Ficken was a quick fix for the Los Angeles Rams after starting kicker Greg Zuerlein was lost for the season due to injury. Ficken had his fair share of ups and downs while at Penn State.

To his credit he stuck with the dream of landing on an NFL roster and outside a couple of cups of coffee in the league, Ficken didn’t have much in the way to speak of until his break at the end of the season.

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times writes that Ficken expects to be back with the team, at least through training camp.

Bubble talk

Penn State’s men’s basketball team has some work to do if they are going to make the NCAA Tournament, but at 16-9 overall, there is some hope. The Nittany Lions have a pair of must-wins against Maryland on Wednesday and Illinois on Sunday, both below Penn State in the Big Ten standings.

Andrew Callahan of Lions 247 says if the Nittany Lions go 4-2 over the final stretch of the season, they could find themselves in the bubble discussion.

A friendly wager

State representatives or senators often have friendly wagers during the lead up to the Super Bowl. Penn State students had a better idea.

Ice cream from Berkey Creamery against some New England clam chowder.

Thanks to the Eagles 41-33 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, Penn State’s dining hall will be receiving its shipment of chowder any day now, writes Frank Ready of the Centre Daily Times.