Penn State will play host to roughly 15 prospects on Saturday including five-star defensive tackle Jarron Jones, four-star linebacker James Ross, four-star defensive tackle Jamil Pollard and four-star offensive tackle Patrick DeStefano.
Five-star defensive tackle Jarron Jones will be among the visitors to Penn State this weekend.
For the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Jones, it will be the second trip to Happy Valley for the Rochester (N.Y.) Aquinas Institute standout. Jones visited for a game during the fall, and word is, his mother is very high on the Nittany Lions early in the process. Jones plans on taking several trips this summer and all of his official visits before deciding. He even indicated his decision could come after National Signing Day, however, it sounds like his mother might not allow that to happen.
For the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Ross, it’s also his second visit to Penn State. Michigan may be the team to beat for the Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s star, but places like Penn State and Ohio State are firmly in the mix, and the family also wants to get out West in the near future and check out USC and UCLA. As far as the Nittany Lions are concerned, they’re hoping they can sway Ross with the help of his former prep teammates, Penn State sophomore-to-be quarterback Robert Bolden and class of 2011 receiver signee Allen Robinson. Ross visited Michigan State this past Tuesday.
Penn State and Rutgers could be the top two for the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Pollard who’s been to State College a couple times. The Westville (N.J.) West Deptford prospect has national offers from places like Alabama and Florida, but the scuttlebutt is that he’d like to stay close to home.
This will be the first time the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Destefano makes the drive up from Roebuck, S.C. and sees the campus with his own eyes. The Dorman High standout holds offers from the likes of Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
Two recruits visiting that don’t have Penn State offers now but could possibly land one down the road are receiver Anthony Nash from West Chester (Pa.) Baynard Rustin, and quarterback Brian Blackburn of Detroit (Mich.) Crockett.
The 6-foot-5, 175-pound Nash is a basketball player that’s only played organized football for two years. This will be one of the first time Penn State coaches will be able to put a set of eyes on him, and Nash is a prospect that could explode this summer and land a bunch of offers.
The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Blackburn will more than likely have to come back to Happy Valley for camp, but the Penn State staff is high on him. As a junior, Blackburn threw for 2,235 yards and added 1,050 yards on the ground in leading his team to the state semifinals. He accounted for 29 touchdowns and was a second team all-state selection. Central Michigan has offered.
This is the second big recruiting day of the spring for Penn State, and the first one could still be bearing more fruit. On March 26, the staff hosted several prospects and landed commitments from four-star outside linebacker Camren Williams, four-star defensive end Brent Wilkerson and tight end Jesse James. Keep an eye on four-star offensive tackles, J.J. Denman, Chris Muller, Greg Pyke and Adam Bisnowaty. All four were also there, and Penn State feels they’re among the leaders for each of them.
Josiah Price is a small town prospect that is on the rise.
There were a couple cancellations for this weekend. Four-star defensive tackle Tommy Schutt won’t make it because of the ACT. Look for the Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West prospect to reschedule. Schutt’s two most recent offers come from Florida and Tennessee.
Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech linebacker Laron Taylor will now visit Cincinnati instead, but says he’ll camp at Penn State in mid-July. Iowa and Western Michigan have offered.
Major programs showing interest in small-town prospect
Greentown (Ind.) Eastern defensive end/tight end Josiah Price plays at a small 2-A school an hour north of Indianapolis, and in February had zero offers.
Following an outstanding performance at the late-February Best of the Midwest Combine in Indianapolis, where he shared defensive line MVP honors with top-100 player Sheldon Day, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Price is now up to six scholarships. Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Toledo and Western Michigan have extended offers, and a few prominent programs reached out to Price this week.
“New schools showing interest in me as a player are Northwestern, Michigan and Oregon,” Price said.
Price will visit Northwestern on Friday and hopes to get up to Ann Arbor next week.
As a junior, Price had 91 tackles, including 23 for loss and 10.5 sacks. He also forced four fumbles, recovered two and intercepted one pass. On offense, he caught 41 passes for 574 yards and eight touchdowns.
This and that from the Midwest
Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel has made two trips to Oklahoma.
Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel makes his second visit to Oklahoma on Thursday. The Columbus (Ind.) East standout will depart from Norman on Friday. The Sooners appear to be in excellent shape for Kiel’s services. …Lake Forest (Ill.) Academy defensive end/defensive tackle Faith Ekakitie will visit Iowa this weekend. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound prospect checked in at No. 104 in the first 247Sports national rankings. …Iowa State is the latest program to offer Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic four-star receiver Jordan Westerkamp. Westerkamp says he'll visit Nebraska for its spring game. …Four-star tight end Colin Thompson will be at Wisconsin for the first time on April 16. He’s also planning a return trip to Florida. …Warren De LaSalle sophomore quarterback Shane Morris already added his seventh offer this week from Central Michigan. Previous offers are from Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Bowling Green and Toledo. …Four-star linebacker Joe Bolden has Michigan as his slight leader over Cincinnati, Kentucky and Iowa. He’ll be back in Ann Arbor on April 12, but don’t expect a Wolverines commitment at this juncture.
Here’s a look at what’s going on in the Lone Star State from National Recruiting Analyst Gerry Hamilton
Arkansas picks up Texas speed
The Arkansas Razorbacks have picked up a commitment out of the Lone Star state.
Athlete Nathan Holmes (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) became the first commitment from Texas for Arkansas in the 2012 class after a a weekend visit to Fayetteville.
“I have committed to Arkansas,” Holmes said Wednesday night. “I went up to Arkansas with my parents and a friend for their scrimmage over the weekend,”
The 6-foot-0, 165-pound speedster went into the visit think he was going to commit.
“I pretty much knew I was going to commit before I went up there. When I got there, the coaches showed me the facilities, the university and we watched the scrimmage. My parents and I are happy with the decision,” he said.
Jonathan Williams has emerged as yet another talented running back in the state of Texas.
Holmes plays running back for Memorial, but projects to wide receiver or cornerback at the next level. He has run a 22.0 200-meters this spring on the track and is consistently timed under 4.5 in the forty yard dash.
Gray, Williams not alone at RB
The state of Texas features two of the top running backs in the country in the 2012 class in five-star prospect Johnathan Gray (Aledo, Texas) and the highly ranked Trey Williams (Spring, Texas/Dekaney).
While the talented duo gets the majority of the press within the state lines, a third back is emerging as one of the most heavily recruited in the country.
Jonathan Williams (Allen, Texas) burst onto the scene in 2010 putting together a 2,078-yard, 20-touchdown season averaging nearly nine yards per touch.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder with 4.56-speed has reaped the rewards of putting up big numbers in a tough 5A district.
He entered last weekend with verbal offers from Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia and Vanderbilt and since added Baylor over the weekend and Michigan State on Tuesday.
Programs such as Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and others are also showing interest with many more expected to stop by the Dallas area school during the May evaluation period.
Defensive end Devonte Fields recently was named to the Under Armour All-American Game's roster.
Allen also has a 2012 outside linebacker that Michigan State could be on the verge of offering, 6-foot-1, 195-pound Thaddeus LaGrone. Baylor, Boise State, Kansas, Missouri and Texas Tech are among the programs showing interest in addition to Michigan State.
Allen 2011 signal caller Alec Morris, 6-foot-3, 225-pounds, is also receiving FBS attention. Rice, Virginia, Missouri, Kansas and Baylor are showing interest.
Texas quick hitters
-Defensive end Devonte Fields (Arlington, Texas/Martin) has offers from Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Tennessee, Missouri, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Minnesota, North Texas, Kansas and Michigan. He's accepted an invite to the Under Armour game. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder made an unofficial visit to TCU for their spring game Saturday and the Horned Frogs are making a strong push to the top of his list. Grew up an Oklahoma fan.
-Safety Eric Amoako (6-1, 190) and CB Stephen Amoako (6-0, 180) of Arlington (Texas) Martin have verbal offers from Minnesota, Purdue, Kansas State, Pitt and North Texas. They are twin brothers.
-San Antonio (Texas) Madison 2013 defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (6-3, 260) has Texas A&M, Texas and LSU in his top three. Taylor will camp at Texas this summer. He is from New Orleans and grew up an LSU fan.
-2013 two-sport star Derrick Griffin (Rosenberg, Texas/Terry) likes Texas Tech and USC for football and Texas, Baylor and A&M for basketball. The 6-foot-7, 210-pounder will likely be a national 100 prospect in both sports, pulling off the rare double feat.
-Defensive tackle Darius James (Killeen, Texas/Harker Heights) has visited Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas this spring. The 6-5, 319-pounder was an All-District defensive tackle as a sophomore, but may play center as a junior. Texas is the childhood favorite and the leader. He has been invited to Texas A&M's spring game on April 16.
Derrick Griffin is an elite Class of 2013 prospect in both football and basketball.
-Safety Trey Mohair Denton, Texas/Ryan) is receiving interest from Iowa, Kansas State, Kansas, North Texas and others. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is an underrated player on a stacked Denton Ryan team that features Florida State commit and five-star prospect Mario Edwards Jr., Texas linebacker commit Alex De La Torre and Texas A&M linebacker commit Jordan Richmond.
-Safety Rashodrick Linwood (Linden-Kildare, Texas) has an offer from Texas-San Antonio along with interest from Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, TCU, Tulsa and others. Linwood, 5-foot-9, 185-pounds, plays running back and safety for the 2A team in North East Texas.
-North Shore High in east Houston is always one of the most talent rich programs in the state. Their 2014 class is likely to fall in line with some of their best with a number of prospects having the look and feel of big time FBS prospects down the line. Outside linebacker Zach Whitley (Houston, Texas/North Shore) will likely be the headliner. At 6-foot-2, 210-pounds and 4.6-speed, the athletic, hard-hitter will be an impact sophomore in 2011. He lists Ohio State as his childhood favorite.
-2014 TE Najee Toran (Houston, Texas/North Shore) lists Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Florida State as four he follows closely. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is in line to be the next nationally recruited tight end of the school that has produced tight end prospects in years past that have signed with Miami (Dajleon Farr), Texas (Barrett Matthews), Oklahoma (James Moses) and others.
-2013 DT A’shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights) lists Ohio State, Florida, LSU and Oklahoma as four schools he is interested in. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder is one of the top sophomores in Texas. He features terrific feet, very long arms, impressive natural strength and very impressive balance for his size.
Momentum in Tempe
For the past month or so, there was quite a buzz surrounding Arizona State’s junior day among West Coast prospects. During the weekend, the buzz paid off as the Sun Devils picked up four prospects from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Wide receivers Randall Goforth, Josiah Blanton and Richard Smith, along with linebacker Salamo Fiso- all committed on the trip. ASU also impressed players from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez, like Top247 cornerback Brandon Beaver, defensive back Alphonso Marsh and defensive end Dejon Allen, who is a lean to Arizona State.
Nuts and Bolts
-Louisville is the latest offer for two-way lineman Duaron Williams (Orlando, Fla./Jones). The Cardinals join Ole Miss, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida and Temple in offering the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder.
National Recruiting Analyst JC Shurburtt contributed to this report