Penn State recruiting: Strengthened relationships, visits, new offers highlight November

Each month, Penn State recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue will take a look at the Nittany Lions’ to-do list here on Land of 10. This outlook focuses on three priority concerns for the program’s recruiting efforts in the weeks ahead. We evaluate November results here. 

Penn State football wrapped up its regular season with three consecutive victories, closing out November with a 10-2 season record. The Nittany Lions will fall shy of a spot in College Football Playoff action but a big-time bowl matchup awaits, along with a chance for consecutive 11-win seasons.

This is only the third time since 1987 that Penn State secured consecutive double-digit victory totals, representing another step forward for the James Franklin era. The Nittany Lions have been diligent in attempts to maintain this success for years to come, building significant recruiting momentum.

Penn State has overcome the scholarship sanctions and overall turmoil of earlier this decade, steadily building a roster featuring an increased blue-chip ratio. Expect this trend to continue, as the Nittany Lions are on the verge of assembling Franklin’s finest class and arguably the program’s best collection of talent in more than a decade.

As always, recruiting efforts are a continuous process that leave little room for rest. Here’s a look back at the November priority list we laid out at the start of the month and what Penn State accomplished.

1. Continue to build momentum in 2019 class

November outcome: No commitments, but new offers and forward progress with 5-star recruit.

The 2019 recruiting class still consists of two recruits: New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson and local State College cornerback Keaton Ellis. Notably, Ellis remains the only high school junior in Pennsylvania who carries a scholarship offer from the Nittany Lions.

Penn State continues to take a nationwide approach in this cycle, further evidenced by its most recent 2019 offers. The latest Nittany Lions targets, added to the board in November, include offensive lineman Zeke Correll (Cincinnati), linebacker Lance Dixon (West Bloomfield, Mich.), safety Tyler Rudolph (Waterbury, Conn.) and offensive lineman Kardell Thomas (Baton Rouge, La.), who is committed to nearby LSU.

The 2019 offer list is now approaching 100 players, and one of the most highly rated prospects provided positive news Thanksgiving weekend.

Antonio Alfano, a 5-star defensive tackle from New Jersey, listed Penn State among his top contenders. The Rahway High School standout has visited Beaver Stadium a few times, consistently mentioning the Nittany Lions as a long-term contender.

Upon his announcement, Alfano indicated a commitment is coming in the near future. He would provide Penn State with a key building block in the trenches and represent yet another recruiting win in the Garden State.

Nittany Lions coaches currently are traveling across America to visit potential targets, so expect further advancement with a variety of high school juniors.

Antonio Alfano visited Penn State in September. (Tyler Donohue/Land of 10)

2. Maximize the final two 2017 games at Beaver Stadium

November outcome: The Nittany Lions drew an impressive group of prospects to campus.

Penn State welcomed several committed and uncommitted recruits to State College each game day this season, headlined by a ridiculously deep group of elite prospects for the Oct. 21 matchup vs. Michigan. A jam-packed Beaver Stadium is undoubtedly one of the greatest spectacles in sports, and Franklin has discussed its impact on recruiting efforts in the past.

Along with compelling underclassmen, Penn State welcomed key 2018 targets for official visits during the weekend of Nov. 17-19. Defensive end Jayson Oweh and receiver Solomon Enis attended the home finale vs. Nebraska, and they spent a couple of days exploring campus while getting to know their potential teammates and coaches better.

Oweh, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.) senior, has been to campus five times since March. He welcomed a group of Penn State coaches to his school Nov. 29, as defensive line coach Sean Spencer and defensive coordinator Brent Pry also attended Oweh’s basketball game.

Also considering Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State, Oweh has said he intends to announce his college plans Jan. 4 during the Under Armour All-America Game.

Enis, the son of former Penn State star Curtis Enis, returned to Beaver Stadium for the first time since an April 22 spring game visit. This 6-4, 190-pound pass target is a premier Pac-12 target and enjoyed a highly productive prep career at North Canyon (Phoenix) High School.

The Nittany Lions currently carry three receiver commits in the 2018 class, headlined by 5-star recruit Justin Shorter. Scholarships are limited in the 2018 class, and a lot of focus is on linemen, but it wouldn’t surprise if this legacy recruit ultimately becomes a second-generation member of the program.

As I mentioned, members of the Penn State staff have spent this week logging substantial miles to visit prospects. These home visits are just as important, and far more intimate, than when recruits travel to Beaver Stadium for whirlwind game days.

3. Evaluate sophomores, strengthen established 2020 relationships

November outcome: It’s still early but Penn State continues to assemble its 2020 target board.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes as Penn State coaches and recruiting assistants continue to assess game film of sophomores. Some of these promising young players are still competing, attempting to chase down state championships.

The Nittany Lions are likely to send out a wave of new offers to 2020 recruits this winter, establishing the foundation of a talent-laden target board. Penn State remains in strong shape with Julian Fleming, an in-state talent considered the country’s premier 2020 recruiting prospect.

However, much like the 2019 recruiting strategy, the spotlight continues to extend far beyond Pennsylvania. The latest 2020 offer was extended Tuesday, as scintillating St. Louis running back Mookie Cooper reported a Penn State offer.

According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have offered 12 members of the 2020 class. It wouldn’t surprise to see this number at least double by March.

The post Penn State recruiting: Strengthened relationships, visits, new offers highlight November appeared first on Land of 10.

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