Bryce Effner among recruits visiting this week
Spring games always are big recruiting occasions, and the Blue-White Game is one of the biggest.
Typically, Penn State seems to come out of these weekends with a commitment or two, and it wouldn’t be a shock if that trend holds again this year.
While often a surprise commit or two will happen, possibly with a recruit from a future recruiting class, most of the buzz about a possible pledge happening this week is centering around Illinois three-star offensive tackle Bryce Effner.
Effner’s recruiting hasn’t really blown up yet, his most impressive offers other than Penn State coming from the likes of Maryland, Minnesota, Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Duke and some MAC powers.
That, however, doesn’t matter to a Penn State coaching staff that had him on campus within the last month and liked what they saw enough to extend a scholarship offer.
With about 10 scholarships remaining available in this class and tackle being a bit of a priority among those slots, that should be an indicator that the Nittany Lions think very highly of Effner even if the scouting services don’t have the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder as high in their rankings as some of Penn State’s other targets.
Even if Effner doesn’t pull the trigger and end his recruitment, the Lions are expected to host a couple of other candidates to fill those tackle spots on signing day, like Maryland’s Rasheed Walker, Virginia’s Nana Asiedu, Michigan’s Antwan Reed and Belle Vernon’s Blake Zubovic.
All are considered to be pretty high on Penn State.
Keep in mind that these lists are very fluid, particularly when you are working on what prospects told recruiting writers what they thought they would be doing a week or sometimes more before the date.
By the time the Blue-White Game kicks off, there almost certainly will be some other big names that hadn’t been confirmed by Penn State Gameday’s press deadline who will be in the stands, while some of the players who planned to attend will have run into snags and will miss.
The lists from which we are working primarily are those that were being reported by Lions247’s Sean Fitz and BlueWhite Illustrated’s Ryan Snyder.
Of course, it won’t be all about the tackles this weekend. Penn State figures to have a number of highly-regarded prospects on hand.
Perhaps the biggest of a strong group of uncommitted prospects planning to be in attendance is Aliquippa safety Kwantel Raines.
Not only is Raines a four-star recruit with offers from Florida and LSU, but getting his commitment over the likes of Pitt and West Virginia would open a door to his high school that has been pretty much locked for years.
Penn State would love to have him and Imhotep’s Isheem Young — who also should be attending — in the fold at safety when February rolls around.
Another top prospect in the mix to be there on Saturday is Cathedral Prep’s Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs.
Scruggs is the one interior offensive lineman with whom the Lions seem to be going all in for their 2018 class. Getting him on campus has been a bit of a chore, though, as he’s not made it to University Park for a couple of other planned trips. He’s an Ohio native, and he said Ohio State is his leader after a visit to Columbus last week.
New Jersey wideout Jahan Dotson, New Jersey defensive lineman Dorian Hardy, New York defensive lineman Matt Jones, Florida corner Jordan Miner and Arizona wideout Solomon Enis head up the list of Penn State targets who are anticipated to be at the game. Enis is the son of former Lion Curtis Enis.
While much of this weekend focuses on potential additions to the commitment list, this might be a more-important-than-usual Blue-White Game when it comes to already-committed Lion recruits.
Penn State entered this week with 12 verbal commitments, and most of those players were planning to be at the Blue-White contest, including probably the two most pivotal recruits in the class so far, Micah Parsons and Justin Fields.
Parsons, of course, is the five-star phenom from Harrisburg who committed to Penn State very early but since has been involved heavily with Big Ten rival Ohio State.
The feeling here is that the Lions still are on very solid footing, and the coaches are approaching Parsons as if he is uncommitted to make sure he is getting the attention he needs.
Fields’ rating just got a bump to five stars, and, as a big-time quarterback from Georgia, a lot of top colleges closer to his home will make a run at him over the next few months. Penn State has an opportunity this weekend to remind him why he chose them and to make the mountain other schools have to climb to make him flip that much steeper.