Prized Pennsylvania prospect Lamont Wade is in the process of winding down his recruitment, and a small collection of schools stand out.
The 5-star cornerback, rated No. 3 nationally among players at the position and No. 17 overall in Scout.com's rankings, revealed five favorites Thursday, one month shy of an anticipated commitment announcement:
Lamont Wade @Goony_38
One month away, December 17th is decision day ✅ https://t.co/lom92qlvp611/17/2016, 7:41:46 PM
Wade, one of the most coveted uncommitted athletes remaining in this 2017 recruiting cycle, is focused on programs representing each Power Five conference. Penn State (Big Ten), Pittsburgh (ACC), Tennessee (SEC), UCLA (Pac-12) and West Virginia (Big 12) provide options in a variety of college football environments.
These top options emerge from a scholarship offer list that features more than 20 universities. Alternative opportunities during this process included Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Penn State particularly warrant attention considering their proximity to Clairton High School, where Wade shines on both sides of the ball.
Clairton is in Allegheny County, which is also home to Pitt. A pledge to the Panthers would ensure easy access for family and friends to follow his collegiate career from nearby, and he's been a paramount local priority for head coach Pat Narduzzi's staff.
Meanwhile, Morgantown and Happy Valley are both manageable car rides away from his hometown.
The Nittany Lions welcomed Wade to campus earlier this month. He was in attendance Nov. 5 when Penn State pummeled the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Head coach James Franklin and Co. are a surprise contender for the Big Ten title and took advantage of Wade's visit. The experience drew rave reviews from his father, Carlton, according to Brian Dohn of Scout.com.
"They rolled out the red carpet and treated us likes kings and queens," he told Dohn. "It was everything I expected and more from the school. ... We saw the community, and the people in the community, and how they react to people they've never seen before. It was a great visit. It really was."
This successful stay adds to the sentiment Penn State has put itself in a strong position to pry Wade away from the Pittsburgh area. The Nittany Lions lead his 247Sports Crystal Ball with 53 percent of experts' predictions, while Pitt claims the next-highest total at 32 percent.
Lamont Wade @Goony_38
Tre👌🏾Ocho https://t.co/IG4SrdRJwW11/5/2016, 7:34:39 PM
Wade traveled south to Knoxville in October for an official visit with the Tennessee Volunteers. He's become a frequent presence on campus this season, journeying to three games (Appalachian State, Florida and Alabama), according to Jesse Simonton of SEC Country.
“Things are really good with Tennessee," Wade told Rivals.com this week. "I’ve got good relationships with coaches and the environment is crazy."
Along with UCLA, this opportunity would require Wade's willingness to significantly relocate.
"It’s different—getting away would be different," he said. "It’s a really good program. Tennessee is definitely in the hardest conference. I could see them as a program on the rise.”
UCLA, West Virginia and nearby Pitt are still in line for official visits, which Wade declares will happen before his decision, according to Cam Smith of USA Today. The quest for a state title at Clairton complicates his schedule a bit.
"I’ve enjoyed recruiting while it’s happened, but it’s good that it’s coming to an end," he told Smith Thursday after receiving his Under Armour All-America jersey. "Right now I have a state championship to get. It would be huge to go out as a state champion. That would make me complete.”
Here is the clip of @Goony_38 that will be making SportsCenter tonight. Great game by the Bears after beating the Quips bad https://t.co/R9OODBfQaE10/8/2016, 2:08:16 AM
Wade, who stands 5'10 ½", 180 pounds, did his part last weekend to push Clairton deeper into postseason action. He dominated with 225 rushing yards and four total touchdowns, which featured a 101-yard interception return, per Mike Vukovcan of Pittsburgh Sports Now.
Juggling championship aspirations and the last weeks of a widespread recruitment, expect Wade to remain in an expansive spotlight through his Dec. 17 announcement.
Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Prospect ratings and information courtesy of Scout.
Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.