Penn State recruiting mailbag: Busy weeks ahead for Nittany Lions; where things stand in Big Ten

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss the recruiting progress of Big Ten programs and the potential for a busy spring in Happy Valley.

Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started.

First off, love the name, Porkapolooza. All sudden cravings for bacon aside, this is an interesting question.

The development of Penn State’s 2019 recruiting class has been an increasingly discussed topic among Nittany Lions fans on social media.

Penn State picked up a pair of verbal pledges during the 2017 season from local State College cornerback Keaton Ellis and New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson. It’s been nearly five months since the Nittany Lions added to the class, so it comes as no surprise that this a subject we’ve consistently received mailbag inquiries about.

Immense success in the 2018 recruiting cycle, which culminated with Penn State’s first top-5 class on National Signing Day, obviously raised the bar for expectations. By the end of March 2017, eventual marquee Nittany Lions signees such as Zack Kuntz, Jesse Luketa, Micah Parsons, Justin Shorter and Ricky Slade were among those committed to attend the university.

Penn State has offered more than 130 high school juniors to this point, and several notable targets have pointed to the Nittany Lions as a primary contender. Momentum will result in class growth sooner rather than later (more on that in a moment), but the tangible results fans have in front of them is a pair of committed prospects.

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Cornerback Keaton Ellis committed to Penn State on Sept. 9. (Tyler Donohue/Land of 10)

Perspective is important here. Only three Big Ten programs presently carry five or more pledges from 2019 prospects: Wisconsin (8), Michigan (6) and Northwestern (5).  Digging a bit deeper, only four of those 19 combined commits are considered top-300 overall talents in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings.

Ohio State, which has topped conference class rankings each Signing Day since 2011, entered March with one committed 2019 recruit. The Buckeyes have added a pair of pledges this month, but an Ohio State class with three commitments at this stage for an all-time recruiting ace such as Urban Meyer further tells the tale of an overall “slow start” across Big Ten campuses.

Let’s take things a step further and examine the grand scheme of commitment frequency throughout Power 5 football.

Only 42 of the top 200 overall recruits in composite rankings have announced their college choice. Georgia, which secured the No. 1 class on Signing Day this winter, leads all programs with six such pledges.

This question also asked for some information on the 2020 recruiting cycle, which is obviously still in relatively early stages since those prospects still have two high school seasons ahead of them. Penn State has yet to pick up a pledge, though nearly 40 offers have the team in an enviable position with elite talents such as receiver Julian Fleming, quarterback Drew Pyne and running back Chris Tyree.

Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team with a commitment in its 2020 class. The Miami Hurricanes are far out in front of everyone else in that cycle, claiming seven verbal pledges while no other program has surpassed three. As a result, I think it’s fair to save conference-wide 2020 conversations for the future.

Everyone is becoming a bit antsy around here, huh?

I anticipate Danny and his fellow Nittany Lions fans will have any frustrations alleviated soon. This spring shapes up as a historically busy one for college football recruiting because of NCAA calendar adjustments.

Rather than having to wait until their senior season to utilize official visits, athletes are now able to use them during the final months of their junior year. This sets the stage for an increasingly crucial spring game weekend in State College.

The Blue-White Game, scheduled for April 21, culminates spring practice and will draw top Nittany Lions targets to campus.

In the past, this might have meant a day trip to town featuring limited time with various Penn State coaches, who also would be juggling game duties. Now, 2019 recruits can arrive Friday and stick around until Sunday without racking up individual/family expenses.

Running back Devyn Ford and defensive back Tyler Rudolph plan to use official visits at Penn State that weekend, leading up to June commitment announcements in both cases. Offensive lineman Caedan Wallace confirmed Wednesday he’ll also be in Happy Valley on April 21, though it will be an unofficial visit. These are three priority Nittany Lions targets, and they’re just the start of the visitors expected on campus in April.

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Devyn Ford will return to the Penn State campus in April, when he also plans official visits to Ohio State and Virginia Tech. (Land of 10/file photo)

Leading up to the Blue-White Game, you also can expect spring practices to draw a consistent crowd of high school talent, presenting opportunities for new offers and possible on-campus commitments. I get the sense Penn State is on the verge of another impressive recruiting run, and it wouldn’t surprise if the class size more than doubles before an April 21 kickoff.

Beyond that, the Nittany Lions have another jam-packed camp circuit in store for late spring and early summer. This resulted in 10 commitments during a six-week span last year. Simply put: stay tuned.

Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us  @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags  here.

The post Penn State recruiting mailbag: Busy weeks ahead for Nittany Lions; where things stand in Big Ten appeared first on Land of 10.

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