For the Future (4.22.19): Lions Make Najee Story's Top-5, A Top Cornerback Target Earns 4th Star, 247's Wiltfong Sees Big Things for PSU

By Nick Polak on April 22, 2020 at 9:06 am
Four-star defensive Najee Story included Penn State in his top-five list of schools, along with Ohio State, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Tennessee.
Gary Housteau, 247Sports

Story's Top-Five

Four-star defensive end Najee Story (Solon, OH) is a four-star prospect on the 247Sports Composite rankings, and one of the nation's top-300 players regardless of position. On Monday, he released his list of top-five finalists, which included the Nittany Lions.

Along with Penn State, Story named Ohio State, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Northwestern, giving his list strong Big Ten vibes. Tennessee also made the cut, ruining a very midwestern thing.

Story's last documented trip to Happy Valley was over a year ago in March of 2019 after earning his offer in February. To be fair though, 247 doesn't have any visits listed for him after a June 6, 2019 visit to Ohio State.

Warren Earns fourth STar From Rivals

Top-ranked community college cornerback De'Jahn Warren earned a fourth star from Rivals as a result of a rating bump over the weekend. His 247Sports Composite rating also was bumped into four-star territory as a result. The Lackawanna product is one of the few defensive back targets left on the board for the Nittany Lions, and one of the very few cornerbacks that they will make space for at this point.

Here's what Rivals analyst Adam Friedman had to say about Warren's jump.

“Warren brings a lot to the table as a cornerback,” Friedman said. “He has the size, speed and skill set to play immediately at the Power Five level. He has a really good knack for finding the ball. He has great instincts, and that’s the first thing that really stands out on film. He does a great job playing the ball when it’s in the air and he has pretty good hands for a defensive back. He’s explosive and physical, and he has really good footwork.

“One of the other things that stands out on film is his patience. He does a really good job staying in his backpedal as long as possible, then breaking on the pass when it’s thrown in front of him. That’s one of the strongest pieces of his game. He has the size to play corner or safety, but he’ll likely start out as a corner and I expect him to play early once he gets to that level.”

Penn State already has commitments from four-star safety Jaylen Reed, four-star cornerback Kalen King, three-star cornerback Jeffrey Davis Jr., and four-star athlete Zakee Wheatley, who projects as a safety. Still, the staff would likely gladly accept a commitment from Warren, as well as a few other high-profile names.

2022 DE Nolton Earns OFfer

Penn State continues to dip its toes into the 2022 water, this time by offering Florida defensive end, Francois Nolton. Nolton is rated as a four-star on 247Sports and a top-20 player at his position in the country for the time being.

The Nittany Lions have been working extremely hard in recent years to build a more consistent presence in the Sunshine State, so expect to hear Nolton's name a lot over the next year and a half.

Wiltfong's Insights

Steve Wiltfong, Director of Recruiting at 247Sports, shared a bunch of insights about Penn State's recent hot streak on the trail, as well as what could still be in store for James Franklin's team in a weekly rundown video. You can find the full video here, but here are the main tidbits from the always-connected Wiltfong.

  • He likes four-star quarterback Christian Veilleux to pick Penn State, and has a Crystal Ball forecast in confirming as much. He cites Veilleux's connections to the players already in Happy Valley and his relationship with Kirk Ciarrocca as deciding factors. He also loves the campus and the business school.
  • He also likes Penn State for new four-star athlete Lonnie White.
  • Has Penn State at or near the top of the list for five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci.
  • Phil Trautwein is also heavily pursuing Tristan Leigh, Garrett Dellinger, Drew Kendall, Rayshaun Benny, Logan Taylor, Caleb Johnson, Rocco Spindler, and Dylan Fairchild.
  • They are going especially hard after four-star guard Drew Kendall (Noble and Greenough School, MA)
  • They are going to add one of the nation's top tight ends, says that their top target is Brock Bowers (Napa, CA).
  • Things are picking up between them and five-star running back Donovan Edwards (West Bloomfield MI), as well as four-star Corey Kiner (Cincinnati, OH), who recently announced he will commit on July 4 and has the Lions in his top group.
  • He also mentions Malik Newton at running back.
  • Penn State is also in strong position for receivers Dont'e Thornton, Jalil Farooq, and safety Derrick Davis

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