Penn State Football: Latest Summer News and Recruiting Updates
Penn State is coming off of one of its more disappointing seasons possibly in program history. From a legendary head coach getting fired due to a scandal that has given this program a black eye, to a subpar 9-4 record, the 2011 season cannot be forgotten quickly enough.
With only 10 players returning from last year's squad, and a new head coach in Bill O'Brien, Penn State will just be happy to get back on the football field and begin a new chapter.
The Nittany Lions are sure to experience a few growing pains along the way, but this is a team that can't wait for season to begin.
With less than three months until kickoff, here is some of the latest news involving your 2012 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Penn State Lands Brendan Mahon
With only one offensive lineman returning from last year's squad, it is safe to say that Penn State desperately needed to pick up some quality linemen through recruiting.
Brendan Mahon is one of those players that gave his early commitment and couldn't be happier to be in Happy Valley. Via Scout.com:
It’s great just to be able to (camp at Penn State) and focus on the important things of playing football. Working out with coach Mac is a great feeling. He’s so intense, and he loves his job and he loves football. His enthusiasm is amazing. Mahon said about Penn State's offensive line coach Mac McWhorter.
The 3-star recruit is a very physical player at 6'5", 300 pounds and is extremely strong. He could play the defensive side of the ball as well, but will likely play the guard position and help open running lanes for years to come for Nittany Lion running backs.
Devon Smith No Longer a Nittany Lion
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As if things could not get any worse for this Penn State offense, wide receiver Devon Smith is no longer on the team.
Head coach Bill O'Brien said it is due to personal reasons (per CollegeFootballTalk), but many believe it had to do with the drug charges he is facing after police seized drugs from an apartment back in March.
Smith was one of the more experienced players on this team, heading into his senior year, and was going to play a big part of this offense.
During his three-year career at Penn State, he finished with 56 receptions for 795 yards and three touchdowns. He was also a factor in special teams as well, racking up 382 return yards in punts and kickoffs.
Penn State Picks Up Dorian Johnson
Another offensive lineman that the Nittany Lions recently picked up is 4-star recruit Dorian Johnson. He was torn between Pittsburgh, Penn State and Ohio State but decided to stay close to home at Penn State.
“The campus and the football tradition they have is great,” Johnson said. “When I talked to Pittsburgh and Ohio State, they said they will still recruit me until signing day, but I'm a Nittany Lion.”
Johnson is extremely tall at 6'6" and plays the game very physically. He has a nasty streak to his game and is very effective in pass protection.
This is another big pickup for the program and a type of player this team can build around heading into the 2013 season.
Marcus Ball Includes Penn State in Top 5
Penn State could use more athletes on the field, and that's exactly what 3-star recruit Marcus Ball is.
He has good size at 6'3", 205 pounds and has the ability to play either the safety position or quarterback. Most recruiting sites have listed him as a defensive player, but in high school last season, he threw for over 1,000 yards, rushed for 500 and scored 16 touchdowns on offense.
Although, on defense, he intercepted seven passes.
Ball has received over 15 offers and plans on taking all five of his official visits before making a decision.
Via Scout.com: “Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Arizona State, USC and either Michigan State or Penn State,” Ball said about the possible schools that he will likely visit.
Don't expect a decision anytime soon from the recruit out of Westerville, Ohio, but Penn State could surely use a versatile and athletic player such as Ball right about now.
Christian Hackenberg Receiving Props
While Penn State may not have a true answer at the quarterback position quite yet, it does have a long-term answer in 2013 commitment Christian Hackenberg. He committed to the school back in May and will likely be the future of this program.
While Hackenberg is attending different quarterback camps, many are amazed by how well he plays the game.
"Top three for sure. Footwork, decision making. Quick, on-time, accurate," Elite 11 quarterback coach Matt James explained (via Scout.com).
Former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer also had a few words: "Christian's a kid that you build your program around. Your program is better day one [when] he steps on campus."
Hackenberg has great size at 6'3", 205 pounds, throws a strong football and can make any throw on the football field. It is pretty clear he has a bright future ahead of him at Penn State—hearing it from others just reassures it.