Penn State Football Recruiting: Predicting All the Commits Who Will Sign on NSD

Troy Weller@@troywellerContributor IIIJanuary 31, 2014

Penn State Football Recruiting: Predicting All the Commits Who Will Sign on NSD

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    February 5 can't come soon enough for Nittany Lion fans. 

    Between the Bill O'Brien and James Franklin regimes, Penn State has secured verbal commitments from 24 prospects. After the NCAA increased their scholarship threshold for 2014, according to a news release from (via Patrick Clarke of Bleacher Report), the Nittany Lions have put together one of the best classes in the Big Ten. 

    Many players may say they are fully committed, but the harsh reality is that nothing is certain until it's written in ink. There are plenty of instances where a recruit pulls a shocking move, changing his mind at the last second.  

    As we rapidly approach national signing day, here's a look at where the 24 prospects in Penn State's 2014 recruiting class stand. Are there some who are rethinking their decision?

    All recruiting rankings and information are courtesy of 247Sports.

Marcus Allen

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    Position: Safety

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 190 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 27 safety)

    Marcus Allen committed to the Nittany Lions back in May. Since safety is an area of concern for Penn State, Allen has a shot to see playing time right away. He has good closing speed, is a good tackler and has strong instincts. When talking about a safety, those are some ideal attributes you want to see in a player.

    He has scholarship offers from the likes of Clemson, Michigan State and Stanford. 


    Allen will absolutely sign with Penn State on national signing day. When Bill O'Brien left for the Houston Texans, he released a statement reaffirming his commitment. Referring to Penn State as "a spirit and an idea," Allen said he'd be on board no matter who the next head coach was.

Mark Allen

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    Position: Running back

    Height: 5'7"

    Weight: 185 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 95 running back)

    Not to be confused with Marcus, Mark Allen is a running back from Maryland. The first member of Penn State's 2014 class—he committed in October of 2012—Allen is a smaller back with good speed (4.43 40-yard dash). He's an explosive player who can change direction quickly, and this should make him a dangerous player in space.

    Allen is one of multiple running backs committed to the class, so it'll be interesting to see how that situation plays out a few years down the road. He tore his ACL during his junior year of high school but has since recovered.


    He'll sign with the Nittany Lions on national signing day. 

Troy Apke

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    Position: Wide receiver

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 187 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 74 wide receiver)

    Troy Apke is a guy who's been a bit overlooked. With the recent commitment of Saeed Blacknall, Penn State has three wide receivers in its 2014 class who played in high school showcase games. Apke didn't have a national opportunity like that, but he will participate in the Big 33 Football Classic this summer.

    A player with good speed, Apke is also a solid pass-catcher and can run routes pretty well. With such a vaunted group of wide receivers coming in, he's looking like a redshirt candidate for this fall.


    As of a couple weeks ago, Apke was still "firmly committed" to the Nittany Lions. There have been no indications that he's looked elsewhere since the Blacknall news. All signs right now point to Apke signing with Penn State next week, but you never know. 

Tarow Barney

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    Position: Defensive tackle

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 285 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 12 JUCO defensive tackle)

    A junior college prospect, Tarow Barney picked Penn State over Iowa State, Kansas State and Arizona State. Last season at Northwest Mississippi Community College, he tallied 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. His athleticism, motor and strength are some of the intriguing aspects of his game.

    His experience at the junior college level should help Barney slide into the defensive tackle rotation. Penn State recently lost two key contributors at the position, so the opportunity for Barney to make an immediate impact is there.


    Because he came from a junior college program, Barney has already signed his letter of intent. He is one of five players already enrolled at Penn State. 

Noah Beh

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    Position: Offensive tackle

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 260 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 38 offensive tackle)

    Scranton's Noah Beh is one of only three Penn State commits from Pennsylvania. He has the frame to play offensive tackle, but he'll still need to put on some extra weight before he's ready to compete for a starting job. To do this, he'll likely redshirt in 2014. 

    He's a good player at the point of attack, and that stems from his time in high school as a defensive end. Beh will need to polish up on his technique, and he'll have the chance to do that under the tutelage of new offensive line coach Herb Hand.


    Beh verballed to Penn State last summer, and nothing seems to be getting in the way of that pledge right now. Chalk him up as a Penn State signee. 

Saeed Blacknall

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    Position: Wide Receiver

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 210 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 31 wide receiver/No. 197 overall player)

    Saeed Blacknall was a late addition to Penn State's 2014 class. There seemed to be no prior connection between him and Penn State before James Franklin arrived. When he decommitted from Rutgers, Franklin pounced. 

    Blacknall has tremendous size for a high school kid, and that could help him to see playing time early on. He has a 4.45 40-yard dash to his name and can pick up a good amount of yards after the catch. Is he the next Allen Robinson? We'll have to wait and see. 


    After being a Rutgers commit for more than five months, Blacknall was persuaded by Franklin to come and visit Penn State. After shutting things down for that long, it's safe to say his change of heart to the Nittany Lions is solidified. 

Brendan Brosnan

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    Position: Offensive tackle

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 275 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 81 offensive tackle)

    Brendan Brosnan is one of a couple Penn State offensive line commits who could stand to put on some added weight. However, at 6'6", the potential is there for him to fill out nicely. He's an athletic player, but he still needs to work on his technique. A redshirt year would be a good starting point.

    Brosnan had other offers from the likes of Virginia Tech, Maryland and Syracuse. He's part of a solid group of offensive linemen that will be brought in on national signing day, adding depth at a position of need.  


    Brosnan is one of many former Vanderbilt commits who pledged to Penn State when Franklin came. He will absolutely be a Nittany Lion next week. 

Jason Cabinda

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    Position: Athlete

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 220 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 62 athlete)

    Categorized as an athlete by, Jason Cabinda will most likely play linebacker when he comes to Penn State. This is a position where Penn State lacks depth. He's an athletic player with decent size for the position and has good speed from his days of playing running back in high school.

    He committed to Penn State back in October after being offered a month earlier. He was originally a Syracuse commit but reassessed his options once the Nittany Lions came calling. 


    Cabinda to Penn State is virtually a done deal. He's always thought of Penn State as his top school, even when he was committed to Syracuse.

Koa Farmer

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    Position: Safety

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 200 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 13 safety/No. 214 overall player)

    Koa Farmer is another prospect who popped up on Penn State's radar only after Franklin took the job. He was a Cal verbal for a few months but had always thought highly of Franklin and his program at Vanderbilt. When Franklin made the switch, a Penn State offer to Farmer followed.  

    A guy who played multiple positions while in high school, Farmer is already physically ready for the college game. He has the right combination of speed, instincts and tackling skills to push for playing time in the secondary in 2014. Along with Marcus Allen, Penn State may have found its future safety duo.


    Farmer's a lock to sign next week. While he's at Penn State, he'll also work toward getting his Ph.D. in pathology. 

Mike Gesicki

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    Position: Tight end

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 236 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 1 tight end/No. 58 overall player)

    New Jersey's Mike Gesicki will join a loaded tight end corps in 2014 that already includes Jesse James, Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman. This is the second consecutive year that Penn State has landed one of the top tight ends in the nation. Breneman was rated as the No. 2 tight end in the nation last year by  

    With excellent size and good hands, Gesicki has the potential to be a dangerous target for Christian Hackenberg. One thing he'll need to work on is his route running. He's very athletic—Gesicki plays on his high school's basketball team and throws down monstrous alley-oops to showcase that.  


    Not only is Gesicki ready to sign next week, but he also knows that he'll be roommates with Saeed Blacknall. 

Chris Godwin

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    Position: Wide Receiver

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 193 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 34 wide receiver/No. 206 overall player)

    Delaware's Chris Godwin is a tough and physical receiver. He committed to the Nittany Lions last April and hasn't wavered much with that pledge even with the regime change. Godwin was offered by Vanderbilt, so he's interacted with Franklin and his staff before.

    He presents a good combination of size and speed—he's been clocked at 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Godwin is a solid route-runner, has good hands and can make things happen after the catch. Alongside Saeed Blacknall, the two should catch a lot of passes for Penn State in the coming years.  


    When Franklin took the Penn State job, Godwin confirmed to Ryan Snyder of that he was done listening to other schools. He'll be in blue and white next fall.

Grant Haley

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    Position: Cornerback

    Height: 5'10"

    Weight: 170 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 36 cornerback)

    Another former Vanderbilt commit, Grant Haley decided to follow James Franklin to Penn State. Nittany Lion blood already ran through Haley's veins, though—his mother called Happy Valley home back in the 1980s. 

    Although he's a tad undersized, Haley makes up for it with his quickness and ability to change directions while in coverage. He's an instinctive player, which is important for a cornerback. Haley adds depth to a secondary that was in desperate need of it this offseason.


    Haley will definitely sign with Penn State on national signing day.

Trace McSorley

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    Position: Dual-threat quarterback, Safety

    Height: 6'0"

    Weight: 182 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 15 dual-threat quarterback)

    Trace McSorley of Virginia was another former Vanderbilt pledge who jumped ship to State College when Franklin took over. He's a dual-threat quarterback who has a pretty strong pocket presence and can make plays with his legs if needed.

    With Christian Hackenberg and Michael O'Connor in the fold, McSorley could make a move over to defense in college. It will all depend on how much James Franklin values him as a quarterback, considering the two guys he already has.


    Don't be afraid to wager on McSorley signing with the Nittany Lions next week. 

Michael O'Connor

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    Position: Pro-style quarterback

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 223 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 17 dual-threat quarterback)

    Michael O'Connor committed to Penn State last summer, presumably because of Bill O'Brien's track record with quarterbacks. When O'Brien left, O'Connor was reportedly ready to delay his January enrollment—however, he ended up following through with it.

    Much like Christian Hackenberg last year, O'Connor already looks the part of a college quarterback. He has ideal size for a pocket passer. His arm strength and accuracy are above average, and he'll need to work on his pocket presence. O'Connor will get the opportunity to hone that with a few seasons working under Hackenberg. 


    He is already enrolled at Penn State.

Amani Oruwariye

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    Position: Cornerback

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 180 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 34 quarterback)

    The newest addition to Penn State's 2014 class, Amani Oruwariye is another follower of Franklin from Vanderbilt. He was on an official visit to State College last weekend, but waited until Thursday afternoon to make his decision known. 

    Oruwariye is a big cornerback who has good length for the position. He has great instincts and can keep up with receivers when covering routes. He could stand to improve on his tackling, but if he has a good camp, Oruwariye could fight for some playing time.


    It's very unlikely that a recruit comes to a decision this close to signing day and then backs off. Chalk this one up on the board for Franklin and Company.

Troy Reeder

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    Position: Inside linebacker

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 230 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 27 inside linebacker)

    Troy Reeder was another one of the earlier commits in the class. He pledged almost a year ago, and his status hasn't seemed to change. He was offered by Vanderbilt before he committed to Penn State, so he's had prior contact with Franklin and his staff.

    Reeder could be a name to look out for this fall. He's big enough already to play and has good football instincts. He has decent speed and is a solid tackler, and his versatility to player either inside or outside could help him see action at linebacker as a true freshman.


    Judging by these enormous chunks of meat that Reeder and Franklin chowed down on last week, I'd say this was a meal meant for building a long-lasting relationship. 

Nick Scott

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    Position: Athlete

    Height: 5'11'

    Weight: 188 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 42 athlete)

    Nick Scott committed to Penn State last February over schools like Boston College and Nebraska. The Virginia product played running back and defensive back while in high school. It'll be interesting to see which side of the ball Franklin wants to put him on.

    Regardless of his position, Scott has a compact frame and good speed. His explosiveness and change of direction are good enough where he could play on either unit. 


    Even before stepping foot on campus, Scott has "fallen in love" with James Franklin. He's not going anywhere. 

Chance Sorrell

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    Position: Offensive tackle

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 263 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 94 offensive tackle)

    Yet another guy from Franklin's Vanderbilt days, Chance Sorrell pledged to Penn State the day Franklin was formally introduced. He could be utilized as a tight end but will probably stay at offensive tackle considering depth issues.

    In Sorrell, Penn State is getting a guy who still needs to add a few pounds to his frame before he can make a real impact. He does have quick feet and is decent in pass blocking but will need some seasoning when it comes to engaging defenders in the run game. 


    It would be shocking to see Sorrell turn back now. He'll sign. 

Johnathan Thomas

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    Position: Running back

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 205 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 26 running back)

    Johnathan Thomas committed to Penn State in October less than a month after tearing his ACL. He was originally a Maryland verbal but ended up flipping in the Nittany Lions' favor.

    He's a thick back who uses his size to get through prospective tacklers. With good speed to boot (4.47 40-yard dash) and quick feet, Thomas could be a project in the making for new running backs coach Charles Huff. Even without the injury, Thomas would have redshirted anyway due to Penn State's stockpile of capable running backs.


    If Franklin wants to add another member, Thomas would be a potential greyshirt candidate. If this is the case, he might opt out from the class. This is a situation to keep an eye on. If all stays the same in the next few days, I think he'll sign. 

De'Andre Thompkins

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    Position: Wide receiver

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 171 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 26 wide receiver/No. 163 overall player)

    Another highly rated wide receiver in the class, De'Andre Thompkins committed to Penn State back in April. Since then, he's made a trip to the Under Armour All-America Game—an experience he shared with both Chris Godwin and Michael O'Connor.

    He may be a small-bodied guy, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed. Thompkins is a burner who is very explosive and shifty in space. He'll be a nice complement to Penn State's bigger pass-catchers for seasons to come.


    Thompkins is already enrolled at Penn State. 

Lloyd Tubman

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    Position: Weak-side defensive end

    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 235 lbs

    Ranking: 4-star (No. 12 weak-side defensive end/No. 225 overall player)

    Once a Vanderbilt commit, Lloyd Tubman followed Franklin to Penn State on the day his hiring was made official. The Kentucky native had interest from other Big Ten programs like Indiana and Nebraska.

    Tubman has a good frame for a defensive end. He'll need to work on his technique in order to improve, but his speed (4.50 40-yard dash) makes him a threat to rush the passer. It's hard to compare players these days, but Tubman is comparable to Deion Barnes when he came out of high school. 


    The fact that Tubman changed his commitment so quickly indicates how much he wants to play for Franklin. He's a lock to sign on national signing day. 

Antoine White

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    Position: Defensive tackle

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 265 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 43 defensive tackle)

    Yet another New Jersey prospect in the class, White committed back in July and has stayed true to the Nittany Lions all the way through. He picked Penn State over the likes of Boston College, Maryland and Duke.

    White has a quick first step, a good motor for a defensive lineman and is strong at the point of attack. He's athletic for his size, though he'll need to add some extra pounds to his frame. With Penn State's need for defensive tackles, White could be battling for a spot in the rotation this summer.  


    White is already enrolled in classes at Penn State. 

Daquan Worley

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    Position: Cornerback

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 170 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 49 cornerback)

    One of the few Pennsylvania prospects in the class, Worley committed to Penn State last May. He held other offers from Pitt, Georgia Tech and Rutgers.

    As a cornerback, Worley is a solid tackler and possesses decent recovery speed. He'll need to work on his ball skills a little, however. He probably won't play in 2014, considering he tore his ACL just a few months ago.


    The regime change didn't seem to affect Worley that much. Penn State seems set with its class, but if another player is brought in, it'll be over the limit. In this case, Worley could become a greyshirt candidate. If things stay the same, he'll definitely sign. If he's asked to greyshirt, who knows if Worley would consider other options. 

Chasz Wright

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    Position: Offensive tackle

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 285 lbs

    Ranking: 3-star (No. 3 Prep offensive tackle)

    Even with rumors swirling regarding his interest in the Houston Texans job, Bill O'Brien still managed to get Chasz Wright to commit to Penn State. Wright had signed a letter of intent last year to play at UConn but ultimately spent this past fall at a prep school before picking the Nittany Lions. 

    Another massive offensive tackle, Wright doesn't need to put on as much weight as some of the others. He still needs to improve both his pass and run blocking, but he could challenge for a spot on the depth chart considering the Nittany Lions' lack of bodies on the line.


    Wright is already enrolled at Penn State and has already signed with the Nittany Lions.