Penn State Nittany Lions: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Baker cooking up something great 

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
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A year ago, Jerome Baker Jr. (Cleveland/Benedictine) toiled in obscurity.

Now, the 6-foot-1, 202-pound junior can’t move an inch without someone asking about him.

Such is the life of an ESPN Junior 300 standout that has burst onto the scene as a can’t-miss prospect in the 2015 class.


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Penn State's staff spoke to defensive tackle Antoine White (Millville, N.J./Millville) on Wednesday and asked if he could make the 250-mile drive to Happy Valley on Saturday. Despite the short notice and the fact he hadn't attended any other camps, White said he'd try.


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Four-star athlete Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore/Gilman) said he's nearing a decision -- but he's not quite done with his visits.

He'll join a college tour hosted by Prime Xample, a DB training center run by his father, former Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent, and Roman Morris, that starts this weekend. And later this month he'll head to three other schools with his family.


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Ryan Bates, a 2015 offensive tackle out of Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood, often breathed heavy and was forced to wipe his glistening forehead when he first started meeting college coaches.

He was a nervous 285-pound prospect. And when Bates trotted over to two Penn State coaches on Tuesday, he was again panting and sweating -- but for a different reason.


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Penn State's seventh commit wasn't much of a surprise, but Bill O'Brien will still take it.

Cornerback Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) committed Friday according to his high school coach, Matt Ortega, and became the Nittany Lions' first defensive back of the 2014 class. The 5-foot-10, 171-pound recruit was initially going to make a commitment earlier this week but held off at the advice of Ortega.

Worley had narrowed his choices to Georgia Tech, Penn State and Rutgers. He told ESPN he was just looking for some reassurance and spoke to PSU linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden on Tuesday.

"Everything they've been through, they stick together," Worley said shortly after receiving a PSU offer last month. "That's what I look for, and that's what I thought about a lot with Penn State."

Worley finished his junior season with 40-plus tackles and three interceptions. On offense, the two-way starter wound up with 1,779 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.

He also held scholarship offers from Old Dominion, Pitt and UMass.
Cornerback Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) said he might not commit on Tuesday after all.

The 2014 prospect was set to decide between Georgia Tech, Penn State and Rutgers. But after talking with his head coach on Monday, the defensive back believed it would probably be best to hold off on an immediate announcement.

"There's just a couple more things I need to clear up," he said Monday evening. "There's some things I just want to be reassured with."

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Heading into summer, NittanyNation will look closer at the 2014 recruits who claim offers from Penn State. Today we examine cornerback Daquan Worley, who plans to announce his commitment Tuesday.

Vitals: CB Daquan Worley, Coatesville (Pa.) High School, 5-foot-10, 171 pounds

Offers: He holds five FBS offers, from Georgia Tech, UMass, Penn State, Pitt and Rutgers. He also has an offer from Old Dominion.

Numbers game: Worley excelled on both sides of the ball. On defense, he finished with 40-plus tackles and three interceptions. And, on offense, he wound up with 1,779 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. He helped lead his team to the state title game last season.


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RN Top 10: D.C. NFTC 

April, 22, 2013
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The RN Top 10 will appear throughout the camp and combine season and rank prospects based strictly on their on-field performance at that particular event. It does not reflect their overall prospect ranking.

ASHBURN, Va. – The East Coast and mid-Atlantic states represented well on Sunday as eight players earned invites to The Opening at the Nike Football Training Camp outside of Washington, D.C. Defense ruled the day, led by two five-star prospects from Virginia.

10. Nick Scott
Fairfax (Va.) Fairfax |RB| 5-11, 180

Scott stood out among a field of backs who were overshadowed by the prospects at nearly every other position. He earned the attention of coaches for his strong play and versatility but missed the MVP award, which went to Vincent Lowe (Chesapeake, Va./Grassfield), who also posted the top SPARQ score.

Scott committed to Penn State in February over an offer from Boston College.

ESPN national recruiting analyst Craig Haubert’s take: “He’s got a great frame, and what I like about him as a Penn State verbal, he’s a versatile player. He may not run by you, but he does a good job in route-running.”


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#BlueChipBattles: ESPN 150 release edition

April, 19, 2013
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Speedy Noil, Adoree Jackson, Da'Shawn HandStudent Sports, ESPN, ESPNSpeedy Noil, Adoree Jackson and Da'Shawn Hand are three of the most coveted recruits in the Class of 2014.
#BlueChipBattles Insider: RecruitingNation summoned its writers from around the country to outline the recruiting battles for the ESPN 150's top 10 prospects.

Plus, rank the battles in SportsNation.

#TopFBMixtapes: Athlete mixtapes are all the rage in this highlight-crazed era of sports. We reached out to our Twitter followers to find out which 2014 football stars had the best highlight reels on YouTube, then had our staff rank and comment on the top submissions.

Tom Luginbill writes Insider: After talking to many coaches across the country and hearing their frustrations, here are their five biggest complaints about homemade highlight videos.
Daquan Worley's father turned to him as they wandered the halls to Bill O'Brien's office during Friday's unofficial visit.

"You think it's going to happen?" the elder Worley asked, referring to a scholarship.

"I don't know," said Daquan, a cornerback out of Coatesville (Pa.) High School.

Worley found himself in this same spot two months before, a day before Penn State's junior day. O'Brien invited the 5-foot-10 cornerback inside his office that first time. Worley thought an offer would come, but O'Brien instead steered clear of scholarship talk. Worley worried this would be more of the same.


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Defensive tackle Ricky Walker fidgeted with his iPhone on the seven-hour drive back from Penn State on Saturday, surfing the web and listening to Drake to pass the time.

It was a long time to be in a car -- 14 hours in two days -- but the Class of 2014 lineman out of Hampton (Va.) Bethel didn't hesitate when asked if the trip was worth it.


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Marcus Allen walked briskly through the hallways of Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise on his way to the varsity coach's classroom.

He didn't know he was just minutes away from a conversation that would set his football future into motion, that would allow him to gain nearly 20 scholarship offers before the end of his junior year. For now, near the end of his freshman season, he just knew coach DaLawn Parrish wanted to chat with him.

Marcus Allen
Josh Moyer/ESPNA four-inch growth spurt helped Marcus Allen go from junior varsity linebacker to starting free safety on the varsity squad. Now the rising senior is one of the top prospects in Maryland.
He could feel his heart thumping in his chest, and he wondered what Parrish could possibly have to say. Was it good? Was it bad? Was it about an injury that allowed him to play just four JV games? Was it about a teammate?

"Everybody gets nervous when Coach Parrish wants to talk to you," Allen said. "Everybody."

The coach motioned the freshman linebacker inside, and the two stood across from one another. Parrish, a former defensive back at Wake Forest, told Allen -- who had undergone a four-inch growth spurt, from 5-foot-8 to 6-1 -- that he wanted him to move up to varsity.

Allen shook his head. He was hesitant. He had played in just four games, and scholarships weren't on his mind at that point; playing with his friends was. And when Parrish mentioned moving to safety, Allen couldn't believe it. He had no experience with that position at all.

"A lot of times, young men are apprehensive," Parrish said. "They don't know just how good they really are. And I knew he was going to be special."

Parrish began sketching out Cover-2 diagrams on the dry eraseboard behind him. It might as well have been advanced algebra because, Allen admitted, he had no idea what he was looking at. He wasn't even sure what a safety's role was.

The coach, a man with closely cropped hair and a thin goatee, then asked Allen to backpedal right there in the classroom. He laughed slightly when Allen clumsily tried to run backward. Allen didn't agree to move up right then, but it was a start.


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Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md./Wise) stood off to the side in Holuba Hall, his eyes focused on the action in front of him, while Penn State players darted from side to side on the first day of spring practice.

His teammate, cornerback Joe Shelton, sat on a bench while Allen -- a 2014 safety -- chatted with departing defensive tackle Jordan Hill, a projected second- or third-round draft pick. On a chilly Monday, beneath a gray beanie and a jacket zipped up to his chin, Allen just smiled.

"That was my favorite part, the practice, to be honest," he said Tuesday evening. "It was just the intensity there, especially the one-on-ones. The competition level was just very high. I liked it there a lot."

The pair of defensive backs arrived on campus around 9 a.m. and didn't leave until 8:30 p.m. It was Shelton's first unofficial visit to a college, and it was Allen's second visit to Happy Valley -- and his first was incredibly brief.

The 6-foot-2 safety trains at the gym where cornerback Stephon Morris' father, Roman, works. So he heard plenty about PSU from him -- and from early enrollee Jordan Smith, who also competed there. But Allen said his previous interest mainly derived from second-hand information. He didn't know much about the Nittany Lions, so he said before his visit that the trip there would be critical in forming an opinion.

The three-hour drive would let him know if he just liked the name, "Penn State," or if he really liked the school. And, Allen emphasized afterward, he now likes more than just that name. After watching that practice and speaking to the coaches, he likes everything Penn State has to offer.

"Yeah, it's fair to say that," he said. "Before the trip, I didn't know much about the school except for what happened with [Jerry] Sandusky, just with the whole sanctions and everything. I just knew they still had a nice brotherhood and they stuck together -- and that the tradition is outstanding. That's the only thing I really knew.

"When I went on the visit, it changed my whole outlook on Penn State. I just like it a lot. I mean, everything -- the players, the coaches, the facilities -- my outlook just really changed."

Allen holds nearly 20 offers -- including ones from PSU, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech -- while Shelton is still searching for his first scholarship. The two prospects ate breakfast before starting their visit around 10:45 a.m. by taking a campus tour. From there, they spoke with defensive coordinator John Butler and safeties coach Anthony Midget, then came the academic advisers, then the weight room, training staff, a tour of the practice facility, lunch, practice, dinner, the locker room and one last chat with Bill O'Brien and assistant coaches Larry Johnson and Midget.

They tried on jerseys, visited Beaver Stadium and snapped photos throughout the long day.


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De'Andre Thompkins may go to school at Swansboro (N.C.), but he can't make a turn in the hallways without being reminded of Penn State.

A Nittany Lion emblem is the classroom screensaver of his math teacher, Ed Walsh, and a PSU jacket is hanging nearby. A history teacher, health instructor and his football coach also either grew up as Nittany Lions fans or went to the university.

Heck, even a custodian inside the red-brick school chats up with Thompkins about PSU and the Pittsburgh Steelers.


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Coming into his junior season, Anthony Davis (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) was under the radar as he missed the summer camp circuit because of a foot injury. He was a player his coaches raved about, however, and a productive 2012 season has him on the radar of several programs.


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