Recruiting Recap: Sept. 5-11
It was a busy week for James Franklin and his assistants on the recruiting trail. The addition of four-star linebacker Ken Talley earned most of the headlines earlier in the week, but the staff was also busy evaluating prospects, as they extended a handful of scholarship offers, two of which went out to sons of former NFL players. Blue White Illustrated's Ryan Snyder recaps the week that was, plus highlights a player fans should keep an eye on in the weeks ahead.
Commitment No. 6 in the Class of 2022
Penn State picked up its sixth Class of 2022 commitment in the past seven weeks on Tuesday from linebacker Ken Talley. A four-star prospect, Talley predominately played defensive end during his sophomore year at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, but he's expected to begin his collegiate career at the strong-side outside linebacker position. Currently checking in at around 6-2, 220 pounds, he could also grow into an edge rusher down the road.
Ryan's Take: Talley's commitment is big for a few reasons. The 4.64-second 40 he ran as a freshman at camp showed his athleticism, and he backed it up with a 4.41-second shuttle. Even more exciting for fans is the fact that both of those times are only going to improve. But aside from the player himself, this is also a sign that Penn State is regaining momentum in Philadelphia. Franklin moved one of his best recruiters, Terry Smith, to recruit the city after a few down years, and while Deion Barnes deserves most of the credit for Talley, it's a sign that the staff's efforts in Philly are beginning to pay off. There are seven Rivals250 prospects in the city and surrounding suburbs, and two have already committed if you include Downingtown West OL Drew Shelton, so early signs look positive. How they do in Philadelphia will have a major impact on how the 2022 class is perceived. That's how stacked the city is in next year's class.
One BIG Miss
Penn State missed out on arguably its top overall prospect in the Class of 2021 this week when Rivals100 OL Nolan Rucci announced his commitment to Wisconsin Tuesday evening. The nation's sixth-ranked tackle, Rucci will now join his brother, Hayden, in Madison.
Ryan's Take: I'm not going to spend much time on Nolan Rucci. Penn State fans know how important he was to the staff and how much it hurts that he's headed elsewhere. Losing him is a major blow in multiple ways. Not only was his dad, Todd, a former player under Joe Paterno, but his mom, Stacy, was an All-American field hockey player for the Nittany Lions. They were even still season ticket holders for Penn State football. I have a feeling a few tickets just came onto the market.
Elite 2022 DE announces Top 7
Rivals100 defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton tweeted Friday afternoon that Penn State was one of seven schools standing out early. The other six schools are Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC.
Ryan's Take: No surprise that Penn State made the cut. They've been the most consistent school with Dennis-Sutton since extending a scholarship offer back in May 2019. He also comes from a school that's become a pipeline program for the Nittany Lions in McDonogh. Over the past few years, the Baltimore program has sent three players to State College - PJ Mustipher (2018), Dvon Ellies (2019) Curtis Jacobs (2020). Now, Dennis-Sutton is arguably the staff's most coveted player yet from McDonogh. That's saying something considering how high they were on Mustipher and Jacobs.
Penn State extended five new scholarship offers over the past week.
De'Nylon Morrissette was the first of those offers to go out on Labor Day. The three-star wide receiver had a big performance last Friday, totaling 12 receptions for 200 yards and three scores. Penn State wasn't the only school paying attention, as eight other programs offered him between Sept. 3-7, including Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and South Carolina.
Xavier Nwankpa is one of the top prospects in Iowa for 2022. A member of the Rivals250, he holds 17 scholarship offers already and has visited multiple midwest schools, including Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Nebraska and Notre Dame.
Azareyeh Thomas is listed as an athlete on Rivals, but Penn State likes his potential best at safety. The Rivals250 prospect is listed at 6-3, 175 and is claiming 17 offers so far. Florida State is the local school and is considered an early favorite by some colleagues. Georgia Tech, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee also have his interest.
Yes, Antonio Gates Jr. is the son of the former NFL tight end. Just like the two previous players, he also has 17 scholarship offers so far. Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Nebraska and West Virginia are a few of the top schools to make that move so far. Michigan State is probably off to the best start, but he's made it clear to a few reporters that he covets offers from Michigan and Ohio State.
Troy Bowles is the lone 2023 prospect to report an offer this week. He's also the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Penn State was one of the first big schools to make a move with Bowles, joining Boston College and Indiana. He spoke with Terry Smith for the first time Friday.
Graduate Transfer P Barney Amor commits to Penn State
Amor walked on at Colgate University and started just one season in 2019, totaling 63 punts and averaging a program record 42.1 yards. He also put 17 punts inside the 20-yard line and 11 of 50 yards or more, earning All-Patriot League second-team honors by Phil Steele. Originally from Switzerland, he graduated from Central Bucks East High School in Doylestown, Pa., in 2017. UCLA also showed interest. He'll walk-on at Penn State and will enroll in January.
One to Watch
Just a week ago, Gobaira and his mother drove seven hours roundtrip to take a tour of the University Park campus. He's made it no secret for the past few months now that he really likes Franklin and his coaching staff, and he followed that up with positive things to say about his tour of campus. I've already logged a FutureCast for Penn State and I do believe he's considering a commitment to the Nittany Lions. Defensive end is an important position for Penn State in 2022, so his addition would be welcomed. Keep an eye on Gobaira.
- To order your copy of Blue White Illustrated's magazine, CLICK HERE.
• Talk about this article inside The Lions Den
• Watch our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel
• Learn more about our print and digital publication, Blue-White Illustrated
• Like us on Facebook