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Thursday, July 18, 2013
5 future QB targets to keep an eye on

By Josh Moyer

Yes, ESPN's top-rated 2013 passer in Christian Hackenberg is on campus. And, yes, one of the nation's top 2014 QBs in Michael O'Connor will enroll in January.

But who comes next?

NittanyNation decided to take a closer look at five 2015 and 2016 signal-callers that PSU is targeting right now:

1. Jarrett Guarantano (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic)
6-2, 174
Class of 2016

Synopsis: Out of all the passers who competed in Penn State’s June camps, Guarantano was -- by far -- the most impressive. His timing and throwing power grabbed PSU’s attention. He didn’t start at quarterback last season, but he saw limited time in every game and will likely be a three-year starter at the New Jersey powerhouse. PSU is in his early top five, and he’s poised to become one of the top QBs in his class.

Quotables: “Growing up, Penn State was always one of my favorite schools because of JoePa and, of course, the tradition. I always loved the atmosphere, the 110,000 fans at the field. And now, knowing that Coach [Bill] O'Brien is the head coach and also the offensive coordinator and also helping teach quarterbacks, that's a great influence on why they're in my top five."

Brandon Wimbush
Brandon Wimbush's family connections in Florida is going to make him a tough get for Penn State.
2. Brandon Wimbush (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep)
6-2, 195
Class of 2015 (Four stars, No. 74 in ESPN Junior 300)

Synopsis: He already holds a half-dozen offers, and he joined DB Minkah Fitzpatrick at a PSU camp and showed off for PSU’s staff. O’Brien paid close attention to him during drills, but that might all be for naught. Wimbush’s family lives in Florida -- he holds an offer from Miami (Fla.) -- and he’s not looking to stay up north after his high school graduation. Still, he’s clearly someone PSU will be keeping an eye on.

Quotables: “My family is all down there. It’s just me and my mom up here. ... I’m trying to finish my two years and then get down south.”

3. Brandon McIlwain (Newtown, Pa./Council Rock North)
6-0, 190
Class of 2016

Synopsis: His former teammate, DE Curtis Cothran, has talked about PSU plenty -- and McIlwain is obviously interested in the Nittany Lions. He can already launch a football more than 55 yards, and his fastball was clocked at 83 mph as an incoming freshman. He looked good at a recent PSU camp, and it’d be a huge surprise if he didn’t return to PSU at some point.

Quotables: "Just the fact Bill O'Brien coached Tom Brady and now is even talking to me about any kind of quarterback stuff, it's a blessing."

4. Nick Johns (Washington D.C./Gonzaga)
6-3, 215
Class of 2015 (unrated)

Synopsis: Johns competes at the same high school as 2015 OT Richie Petitbon, so there’s a good chance PSU will see the signal-caller throw quite a bit this season. He showed during PSU’s June 8 camp that he’s coachable by quickly adjusting one aspect of his game (locking up his knee, which made the ball sink) and not falling back into bad habits. He was the top 2015 signal-caller at that specific camp.

Quotables: “I thought I did pretty well. I had some errors, but you can't always be perfect -- especially after four hours of sleep."

5. Todd LaRocca (Henrietta, N.Y./Rush Henrietta)
6-2, 175
Class of 2016

Synopsis: He showed back in March that he’ll be one to watch, when ESPN put him at No. 5 in underclassmen who impressed at New Athletics 7-on-7 Midwest Regional. PSU was the first to start recruiting LaRocca, after his coach sent PSU some film, and he fared well at camp. He grew up watching the Nittany Lions, and he boasts high interest at this early juncture. PSU will undoubtedly be watching how he performs as a sophomore.

Quotables: “I definitely do love the fans. I have a lot of people in my school that are Penn State fans and they go nuts for Penn State. They live and breathe it, and I'd love my fans to be like that. I don't want them to be, 'Oh, I'm just going to a football game.' I want them to be there and cheering.”