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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
ESPN 300 targets: Penn State

By Josh Moyer

As part of a RecruitingNation-wide project, NittanyNation ranked Penn State's top-10 targets based on their likelihood of committing.

Here's the list:

1. CB Troy Vincent Jr. (Baltimore/Gilman)
5-foot-9, 189 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 80), No. 43 athlete

Why they want him: He's a versatile athlete who's near the top of their wish list, and a commitment this month isn't out of the question. Sure, he's taking a few visits -- but he recently told NittanyNation, "I just don't want to rush into anything."

Who else wants him: Maryland and Wisconsin are believed to be PSU's top competition. But he could also visit Michigan State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina before committing somewhere.

Odds they get him: Very high

2. DT Ricky Walker (Hampton, Va./Bethel)
6-foot-2, 270 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 81), No. 25 DT

Why they want him: Defensive tackle is a priority in this class, and the staff has already started comparing him to All-Big Ten DT Jordan Hill. He won't release his top five until the end of the summer, but he already told NittanyNation that PSU made that short list.

Who else wants him: He holds more than 15 offers, but some of his bigger ones include Boston College, Maryland, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Odds they get him: High

Dravon Henry
It seems as if Penn State is willing to pull out all the stops for ESPN 150 ATH Dravon Henry.
3. CB Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa)
5-foot-11, 181 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 83), No. 130 overall player, No. 17 athlete

Why they want him: He's the No. 1 priority of the 2014 class right now and the staff is willing to wait as long as it takes. PSU's staff has gone after Henry hard, and the ESPN 150 athlete was very receptive once defensive coordinator John Butler brought up the fact he could be a pioneer if he heads to PSU.

Who else wants him: West Virginia is the leader right now, with Pitt at No. 3. Henry's in no rush to decide, however.

Odds they get him: Medium

4. TE Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional)
6-foot-5, 202 pounds
ESPN rank: Three stars (Grade: 72), No. 103 WR

Why they want him: No, the Nittany Lions don't need Gesicki. But with O'Brien's knack in going after best players regardless of need, they certainly want him. PSU thinks he's the top TE in the country with his big frame and catching ability.

Who else wants him: Ohio State is also an alluring choice if it offers. If it doesn't, Rutgers and Miami (Fla.) are also attractive choices for Gesicki.

Odds they get him: Medium

5. DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
6-foot-4, 300 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 84), No. 85 overall player, No. 8 DT

Why they want him: His experience on the hardwood has carried over to the gridiron, and he's a quick athlete for his size -- one with a lot of potential. PSU told him he has no bad habits and is very mold-able. Holley had a unique take on PSU's sanctions, and it'd be a surprise if he didn't make a return visit to Happy Valley.

Who else wants him: Who doesn't? He's one of the top defensive tackles in the country, and schools such as Alabama and Notre Dame are also going after him hard. PSU stands good right now, but that could change after a few visits.

Odds they get him: Medium

6. OT Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon)
6-foot-6, 295 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 83), No. 143 overall player, No. 14 OT

Why they want him: Bookser might lack some polish, but he's just what PSU's looking for. He's big, strong and a road-grader. PSU likes Bookser a lot and wouldn't mind taking a second tackle ... but PSU's not the favorite right now.

Who else wants him: Pitt and Ohio State are the favorites right now, with PSU as a distant third or fourth.

Odds they get him: Low

7. DT Cory Johnson (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA College)
6-foot-3, 282 pounds
ESPN rank:
Unrated

Why they want him: He can already reportedly bench close to 415 pounds, and the staff was really impressed with his tape. His scholarship is pending a transcript, however, and that's why he's not ranked higher right now. He's a recruit with a few red flags but is clearly an impressive athlete.

Who else wants him: Kentucky and Miami (Fla.) have already both offered him, in addition to the likes of Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers.

Odds they get him: Low

8. S Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway)
6-foot-2, 195 pounds
ESPN rank: Four stars (Grade: 82), No. 253 overall player, No. 29 athlete

Why they want him: He's a track athlete who could contribute immediately at safety. But this is where it gets tricky. Nicholson appears to have more interest in PSU than Bookser, but it's not clear where he'll fit into PSU's plans when/if Vincent commits.

Who else wants him: He has 30+ offers from the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Florida State. He's still very open and will likely take his official visits before a decision.

Odds they get him: Low

9. DT Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach, Va./Ocean Lakes)
6-foot-1, 299 pounds
ESPN rank: Unrated; four stars (Grade: 80), No. 29 DT

Why they want him: He has no problems stuffing the run, but PSU still sees him as a notch below Walker and Holley. He's Plan C or D when it comes to the DTs.

Who else wants him: Florida State, Michigan State, Ohio State and the in-state schools are all players in his recruitment. Like Bookser, PSU might be one of his favorites, but it's not the favorite.

Odds they get him: Low

10. ATH Malik Hooker (New Castle, Pa./New Castle)
6-foot-2, 185 pounds
ESPN rank: Unrated

Why they want him: Hooker is the second prospect on this board who parlayed his talent on the hardwood to the gridiron. He can play wideout or DB -- likely DB for PSU -- and he has a high ceiling. He might still elect to play basketball at college if the right offer comes along there.

Who else wants him: He has offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Pitt and a slew of other top programs. But it's still pretty early in his recruitment.

Odds they get him: Very low