Penn State made their last recruiting weekend of 2018 count in a big way. Four-star 2019 offensive lineman Doug Nester (Huntington, WV) and five-star 2020 wide receiver Julian Fleming (Catawissa, PA) both spent time in Happy Valley on Sunday. As of midnight, we are in a "dead period," so this was the last chance for coaches and recruits to have in-person contact on or off campus until January.
Nester, a long time Ohio State commit, has indicated that he will not be signing with any program this month. He will instead sign in February of 2019, and take advantage of his remaining official visits before making a final decision. Sunday's visit was unofficial, and his second of this year to Penn State. He was last on campus for October's victory over Iowa. Nester's coach provided arguably the best tweet/photo of the 2019 cycle thus far as well.
Fleming, on the other hand, has been a regular around State College this year. Counting Sunday's visit, he has been on campus seven times in 2018, and nine times overall since the summer of 2017.
THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE pic.twitter.com/1dR5jRDzSC— 0J4 (@julian_040) December 17, 2018
As things currently stand, five of Penn State's remaining targets will definitely be announcing decisions this week. Three-star offensive lineman Jakai Moore, and four-star defensive end Adisa Isaac will make his decision on Monday afternoon, while four-star running back Noah Cain, four-star wide receiver Cornelius Johnson, and five-star defensive end Zach Harrison plan to make their announcements on Wednesday before signing their Letters of Intent.
Several more prospects remain undecided, but do not have announcements planned. That includes three-star defensive tackle Jared Harrison-Hunte, four-star athlete Mark-Antony Richards, four-star defensive tackle D'Von Ellies, and three-star defensive end Smith Vilbert. Richards has made it known he will not sign until February, while the other three may or may not hold off until the traditional signing period.
As has been the case for months this one is coming down to South Carolina and Penn State. Moore has visited Penn State six times this year, including an official visit the weekend of Dec. 7. Meanwhile, he has visited Columbia four times, with his official visit coming back in April.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball is heavily in South Carolina's favor, but I am leaving my pick on Penn State heading into tomorrow's announcement. This one really could go either way.
Isaac has quietly become one of the top ranked players in the country, currently sitting at No. 79 overall in the 247Sports Composite rankings. While he has taken official visits to both Texas A&M and Miami, this has felt like a Penn State inevitability for some time. 100 percent of the predictions are for the Nittany Lions, and that will be the decision on Monday at noon.
What once felt like a long shot now feels like a likelihood. Ja'Juan Seider deserves tons of credit for keeping Penn State in the picture with the four-star prospect. Cain visited unofficially in the spring, and returned for an unofficial visit in November for the Wisconsin game. However, the biggest trip may have come in July when his parents joined the Lasch Bash festivities.
Penn State holds a slight advantage over Texas, but all of the momentum is on the Penn State side. I expect the Nittany Lions to land the nation's No. 7 running back to go along with Devyn Ford.
Penn State has become a late factor with the four-star prospect out of Connecticut. The Lions offered in April, but did not get Johnson on campus until early-December. While Stanford and Notre Dame are the leaders in the Crystal Ball predictions, all indications it will be the Nittany Lions or Michigan. He is coming off a visit to Ann Arbor this past weekend, and my gut says the Wolverines will be the pick here.
This is the big one, of course. The nation's No. 4 overall player has said he plans to make an announcement Wednesday morning, but no one who knows what that decision will be. It is down to the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan, and Penn State. For much of the fall, Michigan has been viewed as the leader, but the Crystal Ball is getting cloudier by the day. If you're looking for a prediction at this point, I quite frankly have no idea. I've long thought Ohio State would be the ultimate selection, but none of Harrison's three finalists would surprise me.
With it possible, if not likely, that all four other go into 2019 before making a decision, we will hold off on any predictions for the time being. However, if that changes, this post will be updated.
What are your thoughts on these prospects, or any others? Share your thoughts in the comments!