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Tuesday, July 16, 2013
2015 ESPN 300 targets: Penn State

By Josh Moyer

The ESPN Junior 300 for the 2015 class was released today, so NittanyNation decided to take a closer look at 10 targets on the list and where they stand with PSU.

Here they are:

1. OT Sterling Jenkins (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin)
6-foot-8, 290 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 75

Jenkins is near the top of PSU's big board, and he recently attended a team cookout. He said PSU felt like family, and his grandmother often stresses PSU's academics. He also has a lot of family connections to Pittsburgh, however, but he'll be one prospect the staff continues to go after hard. He already has a close relationship with his recruiting coach, Charles London, and feels as if he can trust London and the staff.

2. LB Ricky DeBerry (Richmond, Va./St. Christophers)
6-2, 235
ESPN 300 rank: 139

What does DeBerry like about Penn State? He didn't really hesitate: "Academics, coaches and tradition of winning." He joined Jenkins as the only 2015 prospects at the June cookout, and he's checked in with a lot of schools this summer -- from Michigan to Georgia to Oklahoma. He already holds more than 30 offers, and there'll be plenty of competition for this linebacker.

Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah Fitzpatrick and Penn State have high mutual interest in each other.
3. CB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's Prep)
6-0, 183
ESPN 300 rank: 38

Fitzpatrick boasts an unprecedented work ethic, and that showed during PSU's one-day camp June 1. The Jersey product was easily the top DB there and received a scholarship on the spot. He was also one of the few underclassmen to compete at The Opening, so it should come as no surprise that he's one of the top DBs in the country. He's high on Penn State, and that feeling is certainly mutual.

4. LB Jerome Baker Jr. (Cleveland/Benedictine)
6-1, 202
ESPN 300 rank: 157

Don't call him an Ohio State lock just yet. Despite growing up in Ohio, he actually became a Penn State fan back in seventh grade and said he probably has more PSU clothing in his closet than OSU. And who did he root for when the two teams played each other? "I was kind of leaning toward Penn State," he said. He likes the coaches, tradition, academics and atmosphere at Penn State -- and he'll undoubtedly be back on campus in the future.

5. OG Tristen Hoge (Pocatello, Idaho/Highland)
6-4, 284
ESPN 300 rank: 99

Hoge currently has PSU in his top three, along with Notre Dame and LSU. He claims the three are all equal, but it appears as if Notre Dame is at the top with LSU in second. He visited PSU last month for a one-day camp and really enjoyed meeting the coaches and speaking with the high-energy strength coach, but PSU certainly isn't the favorite right now. It's still in good shape here, but it'd be a surprise if he came back for a visit this season. He's already trying to schedule one for Notre Dame, and he hasn't ruled out another to LSU.

6. OT Ryan Bates (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood)
6-5, 285
ESPN 300 rank: 169

Bates previously said, out of the offers he holds, that he especially likes South Carolina and that the SEC is pretty alluring. That being said, he's already planned another visit to Happy Valley -- and being friends with teammate Jake Cooper, another PSU target who's a huge fan of the Blue and White, certainly can't hurt. Bates received an offer before attending a one-day camp, but he stood out as one of the top prospects there anyway. He's very quick for a big lineman, and PSU is certainly big on him.

7. TE T.J. Wheatley Jr. (Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius)
6-6, 235
ESPN 300 rank: 217

The Nittany Lions offered him both as a defensive end and as a tight end, according to Canisius coach Rich Robbins. Wheatley Jr. is keeping any favorites close to his vest, but his father played at Michigan -- and his three big offers right now are Alabama, Penn State and Michigan. Wheatley Jr. has already impressed Canisius' coaches in the short time he's been there -- he just recently transferred -- and Robbins said he shows great quickness, hands and athleticism.

8. DE Darius Fullwood (Olney, Md./Good Counsel)
6-4, 225
ESPN 300 rank: 225

PSU began recruiting Fullwood in April, but it didn't take him long to earn an offer. He impressed the staff at a one-day camp, and he boasts high interest in PSU. He's a big fan of defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and he already believes PSU will wind up as one of his finalists. Johnson told him he was impressed with his motor and first step off the ball.

9. OT Matt Burrell Jr. (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor)
6-4, 278
ESPN 300 rank: 124

He'll be able to go just about anywhere, but PSU appears to be in good shape early on. His father said the family has a soft spot in their heart for PSU's tradition, and they've thought some about attending the Oct. 12 PSU-Michigan game. The offensive tackle didn't attend a camp because of some lingering injuries, and PSU will have to keep on winning for Burrell Jr. to remain interested. That's a big element to his recruitment.

10. CB Jordan Whitehead (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley)
5-11, 171
ESPN 300 rank: 230

Whitehead wasn't sure about PSU until an April visit. What was his favorite part then? "All of it," he said. The cornerback said PSU will likely end up as one of his top schools, and the staff loves his versatility. Bill O'Brien told Whitehead that he shouldn't be too surprised if he finds himself at some wideout in addition to corner. He impressed at NIKE Football Training Camp last month and helped make completions rare during 7-on-7s.