Prized offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins pledged to Penn State on Tuesday evening, spurning Big Ten rival Ohio State in the process. The 4-star prospect ended a nationwide recruitment by revealing his intentions to call Happy Valley home for years to come:
Just announced my commitment to THE Penn State University!!🎉🔥🐾— Sterling Jenkins⚡™ (@S_Jenkins72) May 6, 2014
Jenkins, a 6'8", 305-pound Pittsburgh product, provides another pivotal piece for the Nittany Lions' 2015 class. He is rated No. 5 nationally among offensive tackles in 247Sports' composite rankings, which also list him as the top rising senior prospect in Pennsylvania.
The announcement occurred more than a month after he narrowed his collegiate options to a pair of conference combatants:
He built a strong rapport with both coaching staffs and spent time on each campus during the second weekend of April.
Jenkins eliminated an array of teams from contention earlier this year. Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Michigan are among the programs that didn't make his final cut.
Alabama, a squad that's enjoyed immense success along the offensive front under Nick Saban, extended an offer in late April. However, it seems the Crimson Tide were simply too late to the party.
Instead, he's headed to Penn State, where first-year head coach James Franklin has assembled an outstanding crop of in-state talent.
Jenkins joins fellow 4-star Pennsylvania prospects Ryan Bates (Warminster; offensive tackle), Saquon Barkley (Whitehall; running back) and Andre Robinson (Harrisburg; running back) in a class that promises to infuse new energy into the team's rushing attack.
He and Bates provide valuable bookends up front, while 4-star offensive guard Steven Gonzalez (Union, N.J.) strengthens the offensive interior.
Penn State boasts the nation's No. 2 recruiting class in 247Sports' composite team rankings, trailing only Alabama. The team holds 14 commitments—including 10 4-star prospects—and now awaits a Tuesday night decision from 4-star quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
Meanwhile, Ohio State has landed just two 2015 commitments from a pair of 4-star cornerbacks. The Buckeyes haven't secured a 2015 pledge since December.
Jenkins possesses a rare blend of size and coordination at his age. He has quickly developed outstanding range as a blocker despite growing into a massive 6'8" frame.
His pass-blocking skills are already solid. Jenkins exhibits an effective slide-step that gives him lateral reach against edge rushers and allows him to pick up blitz efforts along his inside shoulder.
He isn't quite as polished in the run game but possesses the raw strength necessary to dominate opponents off the snap. The challenge will be to get Jenkins to maintain those blocks downfield, especially into the second level.
Agility training and conditioning at the next level will help with lower-body technique, which must be improved along with knee bend. Development as a member of the practice squad and eventually the two-deep will go a long way toward setting the stage for a dominant career.
Jenkins could be ready to step into a starting role as early as 2016 and appears to be well-suited for success at right tackle. His ability to rapidly ascend the depth chart is paramount for a program that has plenty of immediate needs on its roster due to severe scholarship sanctions.
Penn State was trounced by the Buckeyes last October, but Franklin is outpacing Ohio State coach Urban Meyer in every way imaginable during this recruiting cycle. Jenkins' commitment to the Nittany Lions further widens that gap.
Recruit information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.