Penn State recruiting: DT Tyler Friday puts Lions in top 5; Jesse Luketa aims to follow Jason Cabinda’s lead

Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from  Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks  here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and follow us on  Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.

4-star DT Tyler Friday puts Penn State in his top 5

Much of the focus for Penn State’s final stretch of the 2018 recruiting cycle lands on defensive linemen. The defensive end trio of Jayson Oweh, Micah Parsons and Tyreke Smith has emerged as the center of attention for many Nittany Lions fans.

Another blue-chip defensive lineman made it clear he’s still interested in Penn State on Monday night. Tyler Friday, a 4-star tackle from New Jersey, trimmed his list of collegiate options to five programs:

This list is heavy on Big Ten teams, as Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State remain in the picture. Miami and UCLA are remaining options beyond conference territory.

Friday, considered the No. 3 defensive tackle and a top-100 recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings, attends Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.). He landed on the Nittany Lions’ target board in February 2016, part of his sophomore-season explosion on the national recruiting landscape.

Following an early-spring visit to Happy Valley, Friday felt positive vibes from the program. He described the environment he experienced during our April 30 conversation at a camp.

“I just loved the atmosphere there,” Friday said. “It’s a family atmosphere and they have a lot of Jersey guys as well, so they recruit hard in Jersey. For me, that’s big. Overall, it was a great experience and I love the staff there as well.”

As Friday referenced, Penn State has been quite successful targeting top recruits in the Garden State. Current Nittany Lions standouts such as Jason Cabinda, Mike Gesicki and Juwan Johnson are New Jersey products, while 2018 receiver commit Justin Shorter is considered the state’s top overall prospect this cycle.

Despite the release of this favorites list, Friday’s recruitment remains a relative unknown situation. He’s yet to set any official visit plans and is unlikely to announce his choice until near National Signing Day (Feb. 7), according to Brian Dohn of 247Sports.

The 6-foot-3, 263-pound prospect is expected to play along the defensive interior. Penn State presently claims 2018 defensive tackle pledges from Judge Culpepper, Aeneas Hawkins and PJ Mustipher.

“I have the strength to play inside and the speed to play outside,” Friday said.

Watch his highlights here:

Nittany Lions LB commit Jesse Luketa sees similarities to Jason Cabinda

Linebacker Jesse Luketa quickly emerged as a recruiting class leader for Penn State following his February pledge to the program. Now only two months away from enrolling early at the university, he is working to cap off his prep career with a championship at Mercyhurst Prep (Erie, Pa.).

Through 10 games, including a 28-10 playoff victory over Hickory (Hermitage, Pa.) last weekend, Luketa has recorded 76 tackles, 4 sacks, 6 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and 8 total touchdowns.

A frequent visitor to Beaver Stadium this season, Luketa watches one Penn State player particularly closely on game days.

“Jason Cabinda — that’s who I model my game after,” he said during our recent Facebook Live chat. “Everything Cabinda does, I look to see what I can incorporate into my game.”

Cabinda, a senior middle linebacker, leads the Nittany Lions with 63 tackles. Barring injury, he should surpass 80 total tackles for a third straight season.

Luketa, a 6-3, 235-pound prospect, most recently traveled to Happy Valley for Penn State’s Oct. 21 matchup vs. Michigan. He’s been consistently impressed by the defensive unit he’ll soon call home.

“From my perspective I can just see how everyone has bought into the program,” Luketa said. “It’s ridiculous, but I’m going to be out there for the next four years contributing to ‘LBU’ and continuing the legacy.”

He will arrive on campus in January, joining fellow teammates in training and new classmates in college courses. Luketa will have an opportunity to make an early impact during spring camp, when Penn State coaches will evaluate which inexperienced linebackers appear prepared to make a leap in 2018.

Luketa intends to do his best to prove he’s worthy of early playing time. His attitude, which has been infectious among other 2018 commits, should help with the process.

Cabinda is considered one of the heart-and-soul members of this current Penn State locker room, especially the defensive group. Though you can’t expect a freshman to fill the void left behind by an accomplished senior leader, Luketa plans to be himself upon arrival and let everything else fall into place.

“I’ve always been an individual who, when surrounded by my peers, I’ve always been considered a leader. I’m going to do whatever I can do to continue that and just lead the ones who are around me. Just be a vocal leader, and lead through my actions.”

Watch Luketa’s latest highlights below and help vote him into the Under Armour All-America Game here.

The post Penn State recruiting: DT Tyler Friday puts Lions in top 5; Jesse Luketa aims to follow Jason Cabinda’s lead appeared first on Land of 10.

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