The most important recruit left on Penn State's 2021 recruiting board, Warwick High School five-star Nolan Rucci, made his way to Happy Valley over the weekend.
Penn State is engaged in a heated battle for Rucci's signature as the five-star prospect has the choice of just about any program in college football. It appears, however, he has his eyes set on Penn State, Wisconsin, and Clemson.
His connection to the Badgers is clear, with older brother Hayden playing tight end for the Big Ten West foe. The younger Rucci surely has great connections and relationships with both Badger coaches and players thanks to his brother. When the country was locked down in quarantine earlier this spring, Nolan and Hayden surely spent a huge amount of time together which can only help Wisconsin here.
Nolan's relationships at Penn State are just as strong, however. His father, Todd Rucci, is a former Nittany Lion offensive lineman which alongside his proximity to State College means he has been to campus dozens of times in his life. Even as a recruit, he's been to campus and spent time with the coaching staff another dozen or so times. Since new offensive line coach Phil Trautwein has been at Penn State, he's made Rucci the absolute biggest of priorities. While the staff would've loved to get Trautwein and Rucci together in person more, they've still cultivated a great relationship.
Clemson is also battling here, but given that Rucci has been unable to visit campus to this point and given the strong connections he has to Penn State and Wisconsin, a Big Ten destination still seems the most likely.
It's unclear what Rucci's plan is considering the NCAA continues to push back the Dead Period, therefore keeping recruits from being able to visit campuses and have contact with the football program in person. He's stated he wants to take his official visits before making a decision, but unfortunately, that may not be an option anymore. It's possible he could decide to make his decision sooner rather than later with the information available to him now. The Penn State staff will likely have to sweat this recruitment out to the very last second.