Penn State Nittany Lions: Virginia Tech Hokies

Six competing for ESPN 300 athlete 

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
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Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) has had a “short” list of about a dozen schools since the spring, but the ESPN 300 athlete is finally narrowing things it down. Six schools remain as the most likely options for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Nicholson, who will likely play defensive back in college.

RecruitingNation breaks down where each school stands with Nicholson and what a commitment from the No. 252 prospect nationally would mean to their program.

[+] EnlargeMontae Nicholson
Tom Hauck for Student SportsMontae Nicholson is ranked No. 252 in the ESPN 300.
Florida State: Nicholson’s most recent official visit was to Tallahassee this past weekend. His mother, Jackie Crawford, accompanied him and said it was a positive experience for both of them.

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Just a few days after stubbing its toe on the field, the Big Ten conference will try to right the ship in the recruiting world.

Larry Scott
Brad Bournival/ESPNESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott will make an unofficial visit to the Horseshoe this weekend.
From official visits to commitments, here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Buckeye leafs

The fact Ohio State opened as 57-point favorites against Florida A&M didn’t scare off some big unofficial visitors, as ESPN Junior 300 running back Larry Scott -- L.J. for short -- out of Hubbard (Ohio) High School will lead a group of three big names with unofficial visits to the Horseshoe.


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First came the announcement of the Nittany Lions' first-ever game overseas in Ireland. Then, on Tuesday, came official word that PSU scheduled its first-ever meeting with San Diego State in 2015.

On Wednesday, Penn State set another precedent by scheduling Virginia Tech for the 2022-23 seasons. The two never before faced each other, but PSU's nonconference schedule has really taken a step forward this summer -- especially with the most recent addition.

Fans haven't been all too pleased with the recent nonconference slate. Sure, Big Ten teams can no longer schedule FCS opponents, but the Lions have consistently turned to the lowly MAC -- scheduling the likes of Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Akron, Buffalo and UMass -- in games that have drawn little excitement and smaller crowds.

The Hokies matchup is far different. The Big Ten blog polled PSU fans in June to see just what nonconference opponents they'd most love to see, and Virginia Tech was among the top picks. PSU athletic director Dave Joyner seemed well aware of that fact.

"Virginia Tech is an opponent our alumni and fans have been asking about adding to the schedule," Joyner said.

PSU's early schedule has been, well, a little boring as of late. But with the Lions renewing the Pitt rivalry in 2016 and with the Hokies on the horizon, it seems to be heading in the right direction.
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Four-star DT Ricky Walker (Bethel, Va./Hampton) recently named a top five of North Carolina, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina and Virginia Tech -- but he also boasts two front-runners.

Out of those five schools, four of them send the most handwritten letters. And of those four, two really impressed by having multiple coaches share just how much they want him at their respective schools. And those two just happen to be his favorites.


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During the evaluation period, 2015 tailback Andre Robinson (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) would chat with a different coach every day before rushing home and googling the school on his computer.

Sometimes, three coaches would arrive in one day. Sometimes, just one. But he'd always head to his bedroom and then at least look up the school's offensive style -- how much it rushed the ball -- and how long a coach had stayed at a certain school to gauge his trustworthiness. From there, the tailback who attended the same school as Jameel Poteat, LeSean McCoy and Ricky Watters formed a base of schools he likes -- and Penn State made the cut.


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Austin Clark (Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County) inched his face closer to the car window and craned his neck to get a closer look at Beaver Stadium on a humid Saturday morning.

This was his first trip to Happy Valley, so he tried not to reflect too much on a possible scholarship. He just wanted to show the coaches he could play. The 2015 offensive lineman would receive an offer later in the afternoon, but for now, he just stared at the stadium and imagined what it might be like if he stood on the sideline.

"My face was glued to that window," he said with a laugh. "The stadium was huge. I was in shock, just in awe. It was extremely cool."


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Chad Smith (Sterling, Va./Dominion) sat in front of his father's chalkboard over the spring as the two plotted out the five camps he'd attend.

"Cincinnati or Penn State?" his father asked.

"Penn State," Smith responded.

His father would give the 2015 linebacker/wideout two choices, mark down the favorite and narrow down the list that way. In the end, Penn State came out as the top choice for a camp. (UNC, Virginia Tech, Clemson and West Virginia were the others.) And a few weeks later, PSU assistant Larry Johnson stopped by Dominion to invite Smith to PSU's camp anyway.

So, the decision came full-circle, and his response to Johnson was an immediate "yes." The only thing he really needed to figure out was which position to focus on.


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Darius Fullwood (Olney, Md./Good Counsel) alternated between dozing off and visualizing the moves he planned to make against opposing linemen during his drive to Penn State's Saturday camp.

This was the 2015 defensive end's first-ever team camp, so he wasn't sure what to expect. He just repeated to himself, during a car ride that began before sunrise, "Hustle all the time, do the drills correctly, pay attention to detail".

If he followed his own advice and visualized success, Fullwood thought he'd have a good chance at an offer. And, as it turned out, he followed that all to a tee. It paid off.


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ESPN 150 athlete Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) listed his top four schools about two months ago with the understanding it would slow down his recruitment.

With the mailbox now stuffed with 50 letters by the middle of the week, it's safe to say the four-star athlete understood incorrectly.


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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.
Mike Grimm (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) felt his palms sweat as he stepped in line for one-one-ones at the U.S. Army National Combine. He didn't know what to expect and felt uneasy around a group of unfamiliar faces.

The 2014 offensive tackle alternated between staring at the ground -- "That's how I was getting in the zone," he said -- and watching other players spar in the drills. The air was a cool 42 degrees outside but, inside the Alamadome, he felt comfortable.


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Class of 2014 OL Sam Mustipher has his first visit of 2013 scheduled. It's no surprise that it's a football powerhouse.


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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Class of 2014 running back prospect Johnathan Thomas (Danvers, Mass./St. Johns Prep) posted one of the top 40-yard-dash times at the Under Armour National Combine on Friday. The 5-foot-10, 196-pound athlete turned in a blazing 4.47 40 time.

Thomas is expected to be one of the top prospects in Massachussetts and he's already hearing from some of the top schools in the northeast.

"I have offers from Boston College, UMass, Virginia and UConn. Penn State is showing a lot of interest," Thomas said. "So is Virginia Tech."

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videoSAN ANTONIO – ESPN 150 wide receiver James Quick (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) has drawn plenty of attention for his play through two practices for the East team in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He’ll garner even more eyes his way on Saturday when he announces his commitment during the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Quick
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 WR James Quick is set to decide between Ohio State, Louisville and Oregon on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said he is down to Louisville, Ohio State and Oregon. Though his decision will come Saturday, it could be finalized by Wednesday morning, as he sits down to discuss his options with his parents, who are in town for the event.

“I am basically going to ask them which coach they have the best relationship with,” Quick said. “There has to be a relationship with the head coach and family as well.”

When asked if there was a head coach among his finalists that was stood out to him the most, he said no. But Louisville coach Charlie Strong and his tendency of playing freshmen is intriguing to him and is one of the main reasons that Louisville is in the mix.

The sales pitch for all of them is pretty much the same: Join our program, and early playing time will likely be there.

“They are all basically saying that I am going to get early playing time. Some are saying that I am going to get the ball more than others,” he said. “It’s all about early playing time, really.”

Quick has taken official visits to Louisville and Ohio State. He wasn’t able to make it to Oregon for an unofficial visit but has the Ducks squarely in the mix because of his relationship with the coaching staff.

“I have built a good relationship with their coaches and the offense that they run. It’s up-tempo, which really excites a player of my caliber,” he said.

Newsmaker: Last week, offensive tackle Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) wasn’t expecting to play football over his break. On Tuesday, he was preparing for a nationally televised appearance in a U.S. Army All-American Bowl uniform.

Campos, a three-star Iowa State commit, was called Sunday afternoon as a replacement for injured lineman Chris Fox (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa). By 6 a.m. Monday, he was on a flight to San Antonio. At the end of Tuesday, he was fully taking on the responsibility of fending off stud defensive linemen such as Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) and A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights).

“I was shocked at first, but then, I got really excited,” said Campos, a 6-7, 250-pound tackle who said he’s “110-percent committed” to Iowa State.

“It was so out of the blue, but it’s great to be here. At first, learning the plays was tough, but I got those down now. I’m just adjusting to right tackle. I was still working the kinks out, that’s all.”

Superlatives: The East defensive line really stepped up in afternoon practice during 11-on-11 action. Alabama defensive end commit Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was unstoppable. Virginia Tech defensive end commit Wyatt Teller (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) also stepped up his game from Monday, intercepting a pass in the morning session from Auburn-bound quarterback Jeremy Johnson (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and playing even better in the afternoon. … The best hands on the West team may not be on a wide receiver. ESPN 150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) made some great catches on Monday, and he continued to shine on Tuesday. Smith an LSU commitment, is the No. 5 tight end in the country. … The catch of the day from the East goes to ESPN 300 athlete Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), who ripped a ball away from Florida defensive back commitment Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). An uncommitted, four-star athlete, Boyd is expected to announce his college future on Saturday. … ESPN 150 running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) continued to be the best running back for the East. He shined in the early morning practice, with help from a very good offensive line.


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