Recruiting Wrap-Up: Week Two
*Each Monday, Matt Lawrence will provide updates on Penn State’s recruiting efforts for the Class of 2014 via Rivals.com, as well as taking a look at Class of 2015 targets that head coach Bill O’Brien has targeted.
Currently with 12 verbal commitments for the 2014 class, the Nitttany Lions appear to have four, possibly five, remaining scholarships. With the current NCAA sanctions limiting O’Brien to only hand out 15 scholarships per season, the team has used early enrollment to their advantage.
Preseason AA QB Michael O’Connor (IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida) and three-star defensive tackle Antoine White (Millville High School, Millville, New Jersey) have indicated that they will be enrolling in January. Early enrollees are counted towards the previous year’s recruiting class, which would effectively make O’Connor and White members of the 2013 class.
Because of this, O’Brien has the luxury of handing out up to five remaining scholarships for the Class of 2014. Let’s take a look at some of the remaining targets on Penn State’s recruiting board:
DT Thomas Holley (Lincoln High School, Brooklyn, New York)
Holley remains the number one prospect on the Nittany Lions’ board. The third-ranked defensive tackle in the country was in attendance for Penn State’s Week 1 win over Syracuse at the Meadowlands, but was there as a Syracuse prospect...thus, no contact with the Penn State coaching staff was permitted.
Although it appears he will take some time before making a decision, all indications are that the Nittany Lions will be in the race until the end. Look for this to turn into a Penn State-Ohio State battle with the proximity to State College being a big advantage for O’Brien and company.
DB Dravon Henry (Aliquippa High School, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania)
Despite already having three defensive back commitments, Penn State appears set on taking at least one more secondary member. Henry is yet another in a line of great football players from storied Aliquippa High School, a place that Penn State has historically not recruited well.
Henry lists West Virginia, Pitt, Ohio State and Penn State as the favorites, with many believing the Mountaineers currently hold the lead. The ‘Quips have notoriously sent many players to nearby Pitt, so that will be something else to watch. Henry plans to take his official visit to Happy Valley for the Nittany Lions’ homecoming game against Michigan, but as of now, nothing has been finalized.
DB Montae Nicholson (Gateway High School, Gateway, Pennsylvania)
Nicholson and Henry are the top two rated players in the state of Pennsylvania, and it appears that O’Brien will accept commitments from both if the situation arises. Nicholson at 6-2 has a few inches on Henry and would fit right into the safety position occupied by Adrian Amos.
This appears to be a two-team race between Penn State and Pitt. Nicholson had Michigan towards the top of his list, but the Wolverines backed off after former Penn State linebacker commit Jared Wrangler de-committed and accepted a scholarship to UM. Look for Nicholson to take an official visit for the homecoming game.
TE Mike Gesicki (Southern Regional, Manahawkin, New Jersey)
Gesicki is an interesting situation because of the amount of skill position players that are already in the fold for the 2014 class. Schools are recruiting Gesicki as a flex tight end/wide receiver and the staff appears to really like his potential.
It appears he would like to wrap up his recruitment sometime in the next two months and right now many feel Ohio State and Wisconsin lead, with Penn State shortly behind. Gesicki has confirmed he will be in attendance for the homecoming game as well.
Class of 2015 Visitors
Two of Penn State’s top targets were attendance Saturday for the team’s 45-7 win over Eastern Michigan. OG Ryan Bates and LB Jake Cooper, teammates at storied Archbishop Wood in Warmister, Pennsylvania, once again made the trip to State College.
This was Bates’ fourth visit to Penn State already and it is unclear whether plans for a return trip this season are in store. The four-star guard currently holds offers from Georgia Tech, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Temple and South Carolina to go along with a Penn State offer.
Cooper has yet to receive a scholarship offer from the Nittany Lions, but look for that to change when Penn State receives his game film. Cooper will be one of the top linebackers in the Keystone State for the 2015 class and currently holds two Division 1 offers.
That concludes this week’s Recruiting Round-Up. Penn State hosts Central Florida in primetime on Saturday, in what will be the first big recruiting weekend of the year for O’Brien and the rest of the coaching staff. Be sure to check back next Monday to learn who made the trip to Happy Valley and much more.
Matt Lawrence is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact him, email email@example.com.