Under Joe Paterno, Penn State consistently brought in some of the best talent from Pennsylvania and around the country. Following the Jerry Sandusky scandal and his subsequent firing, the Nittany Lions are in desperate need of recruits.
Only 14 guys are currently committed to play right now and some of them may not fulfill that commitment. New head coach Bill O’Brien has a lot of work to do in order to bring in even a respectable class.
Here are the five biggest names he needs to get to play in Happy Valley.
Armani Reeves is listed as a soft verbal to Penn State by Rivals and is one of four 4-star recruits currently listed on the team’s commitment list. He is also the only defensive back.
He and his family felt very comfortable with Penn State and still love the school but if they aren’t sold by what Bill O’Brien is trying to do, he will end up at Ohio State or Michigan, two schools he plans on visiting this month. He maintains the fact that he is a Penn State commit but will end up somewhere else if things aren’t in line with the football side of things.
Camren Williams is Armani Reeves’ high school teammate but insists that the two are not a package deal. "Everyone seems to think that was our goal initially and always (to be a package deal) but it really isn't," he told Rivals.com. "The goal has always been for the two of them to find the best school for themselves individually and if it worked out that it was the same school, then that would be a plus.”
Like Reeves, his final visit will be to Penn State where it will be up to O’Brien and the rest of the coaching staff to make the players feel comfortable. He is down to PSU and Ohio State and would go to Columbus if the visit doesn’t go well.
Unlike Armani Reeves and Camren Williams, who seem to just need convincing, Brent Wilkerson is now torn between Nebraska and Penn State after taking a visit to Lincoln on January 6th according to Rivals. "I'd have to say each school is very close now that I took the visit. I'm going to Penn State next weekend and hopefully I'll have a decision made a few weeks after that."
One thing to note in his recruiting is that Larry Johnson, his recruiting coach, remained on the staff. Wilkerson noted that O’Brien had effectively used tight ends in the NFL but will need to be convinced when he visits this weekend because Bill Kenney is no longer on the staff. With only six guys currently saying they’re committed outside of Wilkerson, this is an absolute must-get.
Cox is one of the few 4-star players in the country still considering Penn State who wasn’t already committed to play there before the scandal broke. He is going to visit the Nittany Lions this weekend per Scouts, saying of the school "they have the best opportunity for me depth chart wise. I need to get to know the coaches."
While he spoke with O’Brien on the phone, he will need this visit in order to make a final decision between Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt and Wisconsin. Cox will need to improve his size and speed to truly excel at the next level but those are the only things holding him back.