Monthly Archives: May 2008

LJ Sr. leaving his mark

Some random thoughts on the latest batch of PSU recruiting news.

First off, is there a bigger star right now on the PSU staff than Larry Johnson Sr.? Out of 11 commitments, six are from Maryland, where LJ Sr. recruits heavily.

And still, there’s work left to be done in the state of Maryland, with running back Tavon Austin, corner Travis Hawkins and possibly defensive end Deonte Arnett.

It’s remarkable how Joe Paterno has said repeatedly over the last few weeks at his various stops and also at the Blue White game that he feels the Nittany Lions will have a strong recruiting class coming up for 2009. Plenty, including me, scoffed at that figuring the coaches age and impending retirement (at some point), would have too much of an affect on 18-year old kids who grow up in the video game generation.

Then you have the fact that Paterno rarely steps out to recruit a kid personally, yet they are pulling in kids at a rapid rate. Yesterday was no different landing two more recruits.

My question now is this. The recruits they “need”….the guys like Tate Forcier, Austin, and really any other wide receiver interested in coming to PSU, do they see enough now with the current group of verbals, and is that group of verbals locked up enough to sell the program to those still waiting to decide. Will the coaches be able to stay on those kids and not let one slip away like this past signing day?

Do players like Forcier and Austin need to see it on the field this coming season to make their decision?

Then I think about Joe setting everything up for down the line. We have no idea what will happen in December or January when the season is complete with regards to his contract. He may be back next year (no reason to think not), or the University could go in a different direction, whatever the case, he’s hinted at having things set up for his assistants, and leaving them in good shape and it seems like that is the direction in which things are headed.

Good classes, a crop of returning, and vastly experienced players at key positions this year and next, there appears to be more stability than in past years, maybe it’s just me wondering if that thought will stick.

It seems to be the “in” thing in some circles to want to be a Nittany Lion again and that can’t be bad for anyone related to the PSU football program.


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Lions get another big one

Apologies, as the update is going to be quick. Covering PIAA track and field for 20 hours in the last two days will do that.

Sean Fitz of Blue White Illustrated is reporting that Maryland defensive back Stephon Morris has committed to PSU. He did so on a visit to PSU and gave his pledge to defensive line coach, and Maryland recruiting king Larry Johnson Sr.

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Evans gets preseason nod from Athlon

Courtesy of PSU athletics

Evans Named To Athlon

Pre-Season All-America Team

Eleven Nittany Lions Earn All-Big Ten Recognition
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; May 20, 2008 –- Athlon Sports’ College Football 2008 has selected Penn State defensive end Maurice Evans (Brooklyn, N.Y.) as a pre-season first team All-American and recognized 11 Nittany Lions on their All-Big Ten teams.

A rising junior, Evans also was named pre-season first team All-Big Ten by Athlon. In 2007, he recorded a sack in each of the first three games en route to first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and coaches. He was second in the conference in tackles for losses (No. 6 in nation) with 21.5 for minus-117 yards). He was third in the Big Ten in sacks (No. 8 in nation) with 12.5 for minus-94 yards. His 12.5 sacks ranked No. 4 on the Penn State season list and his 21.5 TFL were No. 5 in school annals.

A finalist for the 2007 Ted Hendricks Defensive End Award, the quick and athletic Evans also was second in the Big Ten with five forced fumbles. A U.S. Army All-American at Christ The King High School, he was fifth on the squad with 54 tackles (31 solo) and also had three pass breakups.

Evans is a candidate for the 2008 Rotary Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski and Hendricks awards, and other post-season honors.

In addition to Evans, Athlon selected four Nittany Lions first team All-Big Ten:  punter Jeremy Boone (Mechanicsburg), guard Rich Ohrnberger (East Meadow, N.Y), center A.Q. Shipley (Coraopolis) and kick returner A.J. Wallace (Waldorf, Md.), who also was selected to the third team as a cornerback.

Athlon selected three Nittany Lions second team All-Big Ten:  PK Kevin Kelly (Langhorne), cornerback Lydell Sargeant (Lompoc, Calif.) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.).

In addition to Wallace, three more Nittany Lions earned third team All-Big Ten notice from Athlon: wide receiver Deon Butler (Woodbridge, Va.), defensive end Josh Gaines (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and punt returner Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.).

Wiilliams is on the cover of Athlon’s Penn State regional edition, which goes on sale June 3. Athlon has Penn State ranked No. 23 in its pre-season Top 25.
In his 43rd season as head coach, Joe Paterno’s squad returns 16 starters (8 offense, 6 defense, 2 specialists) from last year’s 9-4 squad that defeated Texas A&M in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The Nittany Lions were ranked No. 25 in the final USA Today Coaches poll, earning their 33rd Top 25 finish under Paterno. Penn State has won 31 of its last 40 games, tied for eighth-best record in the nation over that span.

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Shrive talk

The Penn State community is still buzzing about yesterday’s news regarding Eric Shrive committing to the Nittany Lions.

Shrive apparently will talk to other members of the media, but for now, surf over to the Scranton Times website for their story on the 6-7, 285 Shrive.

I talked to recruiting analyst Mike Farrell last night and he had some interesting things to say regarding Shrive and also the state of the PSU class as it stands right now.

There’s still work to be done on the recruiting front, and as Farrell told me last night, concerns about what happens in December and January if Joe Paterno cannot travel to meet players.

It’s amazing to think on a recruiting scale, when ranking the teams, a team needs to land anywhere from 80-90 percent four and five star talent in order to achieve top five rankings, according to Farrell.

Now of course those rankings could turn out to be nothing more than fodder in two years if the class doesn’t pan out, but it gives a new type of appreciation to schools that are consistently in those top five rankings (USC for one).

Shrive’s commitment was a stunner in most circles, and virtually everyone I talked to about him said there was no way he’d go to PSU.

Now his thing will be to break that hex of Pennsylvania linemen. We really still don’t know how good guys like Josh Marks and Stefen Wisneiwski will be, but they have potential to be outstanding from what we gather.

The odd thing about Marks would be that out of all the linemen in state PSU has recruited over the years from large, Class AAAA schools (that haven’t panned out), here’s one from Class A that could turn the trend.

Now about the other parts of the class, Penn State needs to find itself a quarterback and snagging Jelani Jenkins or Tavon Austin would be nice too.

Farrell told me last night he believes that California quarterback Tate Forcier has a top two of Michigan and Penn State, not really in any order, but he wants to be the lone QB taken in a class. Could bode well for PSU.

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Paterno released from hospital

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno was released from Mount Nittany Medical Center a short time ago.

University spokesman Jeff Nelson released a statement just after 6:30 tonight confirming Paterno’s status.

“Coach Joe Paterno was treated at Mount Nittany Medical Center on Thursday for dehydration and released.  Last Friday and Saturday, Coach Paterno was with alumni in Philadelphia. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday he was in Chicago at Big Ten Coaches meetings.  He is expected to maintain his schedule leaving for Austin, Texas on Friday to participate in an event honoring Texas Coach Mack Brown,” Nelson said.

Paterno entered MNMC earlier today after complaining of nauesa. He was not officially admitted to the hospital, but was there to undergo tests.

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Update: Shrive commits to PSU

12:29 p.m. update

What was reported earlier by national recruiting analyst Mike Ferrall is now official.

West Scranton offensive lineman Eric Shrive, a 5-star lineman, has given his verbal commitment to play for Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State already picked up one commitment from Frank Figueroa earlier this morning.

Shrive makes it eight commitments for the upcoming class of 2009.

You can read Mike Ferrall’s story here (subscription needed).

Morning update

Another day, another verbal commitment for the Penn State Nittany Lions football team.

Frank Figueroa, a 6-4, 282 pound offensive lineman from Thomas Edison in Alexandra, Va. becomes the seventh verbal to Joe Paterno’s team this offseason.

The Lions are still seeking the elusive quarterback recruit, as their entire list of verbals to this point consists of four defensive backs and now three offensive linemen.

But the news doesn’t end there. national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said in a post on PSU rivals site Blue White Illustrated that the Nittany Lions have also landed 5-star offensive line recruit Eric Shrive from West Scranton. This would be an absolutely HUGE pick up for the Nittany Lions.

Shrive was thought to be a Notre Dame favorite and also spoke highly of UCLA in a recent story.

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Hahn waived

According to a report in the Contra Costa Times, former Penn State fullback Matt Hahn was waived by the Oakland Raiders today.

Hahn was picked up by the Raiders after the draft and was officially signed two days ago. He dropped a pass at mini camp over the weekend. Hahn was coming off a torn ACL which forced him to miss the last part of the 2007 season.

I’ll be honest, the move isn’t shocking as you see so many guys cut as teams try to make the 80-man limit….but Hahn was one of the best people to talk to on the team. His recovery was nothing short of heroic in a way. How many guys would tear an ACL in October and be in mini-camp in May? Not too many.

He’s one guy who’s always been cordial with the media, kept his mouth shut and did his job and you don’t see that too often from a guy who received a lot of praise in high school.


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