James Franklin loves to make the final weekend before National Signing Day a jam-packed recruiting weekend, typically for both the current class of prospects and the next year's. This weekend will be no different, with a stacked visitor list due in State College. The staff has an excellent shot to end the 2017 class with some major fireworks, as well as continue their momentum with the 2018 class.
Here's who we know will be in town, thus far (be sure to check back here, we'll update this list as we can):
- ★★★★ 2017 WR Mark Webb (Archbishop Wood, Pa.)
- ★★★★ 2017 ILB Ellis Brooks (Benedictine, Va.)
- ★★★ 2017 TE Peyton Hendershot (Tri-West, In.)
- ★★★★★ 2018 RB Ricky Slade (C.D. Hylton, Va.)
- ★★★★ 2018 TE Zack Kuntz (Camp Hill, Pa.) - Committed to Penn State
- ★★★★ 2018 WR Justin Shorter (South Brunswick, Nj.) - Committed to Penn State
- ★★★★ 2018 S Isheem Young (Imhotep Institute, Pa.)
- ★★★★ 2018 S Kwantel Raines (Aliquippa, Pa.)
- ★★★ 2018 S/OLB Charlie Katshir (Cumberland Valley High School, Pa.)
- ★★★ 2018 OLB Jesse Luketa (Mercyhurst Prep School, Canada)
Three other names that might be in town, but aren't confirmed just yet are as follows:
- ★★★★★ 2018 DE Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, Pa.)
- ★★★★ 2018 WR Shaquon Anderson-Butts (Harrisburg, Pa.)
Webb and Brooks are the highest-priority targets for the staff at this moment. As they try to close out the class with a bang, adding those two would be a major boost, particularly Brooks after Dylan Rivers flipped to Virginia Tech earlier in the week. Hendershot could be someone to watch around National Signing Day, but with so many other names still on the board, he likely won't pick up an offer just yet.
The 2018 group is as star-studded as it gets for this time of year. Slade, Young and Raines all sit near the very top of the board for Penn State right now, and all have very legitimate Penn State interest. None of them seem quite ready for a decision just yet, but moving down the list, Charlie Katshir could be a name to watch. Luketa just picked up his Penn State offer on January 24, so he probably won't be ready to commit just yet. But with the enthusiasm with which he's talked about his newest offer, it wouldn't be the biggest shock in the world to see him pull the trigger.
My official prediction is that Penn State gets one commitment from this weekend, but that doesn't mean that more won't follow during the week after.
All Out for Brooks, Conliffe
Ellis Brooks is scheduled to be on campus this weekend, but that didn't stop the coaching staff from heading down to talk with him at home beforehand.
Brooks and the Penn State coaches have a long-standing relationship, which will hopefully come in handy for the staff this weekend as they present their final pitch to the middle linebacker in hopes that he can lend aid to their struggling depth chart.
Another name that the staff is recruiting as hard as can be with the final days of the 2017 cycle upon us, is Elijah Conliffe. Conliffe officially visited Penn State back in early November, so it's been some time since he's seen campus. Franklin and company have been relentless in their pursuit of his services, however. The Crystal Ball heavily favors Tennessee and Alabama, but that hasn't stopped the staff from giving it their all here.
Conliffe would likely play defensive tackle for Penn State.
Not Enough Time With James?
In an interview about his decision, formerly-committed linebacker Dylan Rivers stated that he "didn't really have a relationship with Coach Franklin." He said that this, combined with the fact that Justin Fuente and Bud Foster made Rivers their top priority, was what led to his decision.
Determining what was the true reason for a flip like this is meant for message board fodder, not articles. It is worth noting, however, how quickly Franklin's players went to bat for the head coach and called out Rivers saying that their head coach has a relationship with all of his athletes. We'll never get the true story of what exactly happened to lead to Rivers' flip, but it was quite the statement by the players to defend their head coach so quickly and vehemently, and something that should make Penn State fans pleased.
Paschal Staying Put
Despite what appeared to be a very good visit to Penn State last weekend alongside all of the committed players in the 2017 class, four-star defensive end/defensive tackle Joshua Paschal has decided to stick with his commitment to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Penn State's hopes of landing another defensive tackle in the class now rest on the shoulder of Elijah Conliffe.
Links and Link$
- Hippenhammer no longer considering ND, all set with Penn State [Loy, 247Sports/$$]
- PSU commit Q&A: Damion Barber [Callahan, Lions247/FREE]
- Pete Haffner chooses Lehigh over Penn State walk-on opportunity [Twitter]
- Top PA LB previews visit [Snyder, Rivals/$$]
- Flip Watch: Latest on Mark Webb [Fitz, Lions247/$$]
- 5 Penn State storylines to watch leading up to NSD [Callahan, Lions247/$$]