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Penn State in strong shape early with top-ranked 2020 RB Chris Tyree
It didn’t take long for Chris Tyree to gain popularity among college football coaching staffs. He claimed a dozen scholarship offers — spanning four Power 5 conferences — by the end of his freshman year at Thomas Dale (Chester, Va.) High School.
Early attention reached a new level on Aug. 11, when 247Sports became the first recruiting-industry leader to reveal 2020 prospect rankings. Tyree, a Penn State target, didn’t need to search for his name long while scrolling through the list.
“It was definitely surprising,” he told Land of 10.
247Sports named Tyree the class’ No. 1 all-purpose back and No. 4 recruit regardless of position. Only three linemen are listed ahead of Tyree, making him the top-ranked skill-position player among all sophomores.
“I really wasn’t expecting to be on the board that high,” he said. “Now that I’ve seen it, I need to stay focused and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
What he’s been doing has worked quite well.
Tyree invested in his physical stature this offseason. He hovered around 160 pounds as a freshman but will enter his season opener against nearby Cosby High on Friday at 5-foot-10, 172 pounds.
“I feel a lot more explosive than I did last year,” Tyree said. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot and it feels like that’s translating to the field now.”
His efforts also have resonated in the locker room. After just one high school campaign, teammates selected Tyree as a captain. He hopes the mounting recruiting attention will resonate among other Thomas Dale players and provide them with increased opportunities.
“Coming into my second training camp this year, the coaches expect me to be one of the leaders on the team,” Tyree said.
He entered his first varsity season as a receiver, but injuries in the backfield required his presence at running back. Tyree took advantage of the October switch, ultimately leading the Knights with 716 rushing yards. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry and collected 8 total touchdowns in seven games, according to MaxPreps.
Tyree worked out at running back during a June 11 camp at Penn State. He posted 40-yard dash times of 4.44 and 4.46 seconds during that visit — his personal-best is 4.41 — and earned an offer from the Nittany Lions.
James Franklin sent him home with a lasting message.
“He told me it’s going to be hard to say ‘no’ because of how much interest they’ll be showing me,” Tyree recalled.
Penn State has matched Franklin’s promise, putting itself in an enviable position with the prized playmaker.
“I’ve been talking to [running backs coach Charles] Huff probably more than anybody else,” he said. “I feel like he’s a really cool, down-to-earth person, but when it’s time to work he’ll push you. I saw that when I went to camp for just one day, and I think that’s why the running backs there are so successful. He pushes them so much, but at the same time he’ll care for them when they need him.”
Penn State remains Tyree’s most recent offer on a list that also features Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
He visited Clemson in mid-July, and the defending national champions may soon join this mix.
“Growing up, Clemson has always been my favorite college football team, so [an offer] would be great for me,” Tyree said.
Based on the trajectory of this recruitment, he can expect several schools to offer him during his sophomore year. The pursuit of top-ranked running backs tends to get crowded quickly, so a positive early impression is huge for Penn State.
— Chris Tyree4️⃣ (@chris_tyree4) June 11, 2017
“I’ll definitely be watching them a lot this year,” Tyree said. “I’ve seen them come on TV a lot this offseason, so even through that I’ve had a chance to learn more about the Penn State offense, team atmosphere and their play style.”
Aside from setting aside time to tune in from home, he “definitely” aims to return to State College this fall. Tyree hasn’t yet assembled a travel itinerary that matches his high school game schedule, but the Nittany Lions are one of three teams he hopes to see in person.
Clemson and Virginia Tech are the others he specifically mentioned. The Hokies hosted Tyree for a game last season.
Whichever program lands his commitment — there are still 30 months remaining in the 2020 recruiting cycle — will add an exciting talent who can put points on the board in a variety of ways.
“I can fit in however the team needs me,” Tyree said. “If we need a receiver, I can go to receiver. If we need a running back, I can go to running back. I also think returning kicks is one of the things I’ll be most successful at this year because I’m comfortable being in space in the open field. I’m an all-around playmaker I guess, and that’s what people tend to call me.”
Elite Texas LB Marcel Brooks places Penn State among favorites
Marcel Brooks called Penn State his “dream school” on May 22 when the Nittany Lions offered him a scholarship. Nearly three months later, he kept the program on his list while trimming collegiate options to nine universities.
The Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas) junior tweeted a collection of favorites Sunday afternoon. Penn State is joined by Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and TCU. Brooks, considered the No. 5 outside linebacker and a top-50 recruit in 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings, left off schools such as Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
The 6-3, 200-pound prospect picked up his latest offer Aug. 6 from the Buckeyes. Along with his potential at linebacker, Brooks also has drawn interest as a hybrid safety.
Penn State is still searching for its first pledge from a 2019 recruit, and you can add Brooks to the group of elite players looking closely at the program as their junior seasons start.
Check out his sophomore highlight film below. Brooks attended Nolan Catholic (Fort Worth, Texas) in 2016.