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Monday, October 21, 2013
Penn State lands commitment No. 14

By Brad Bournival

Penn State’s big recruiting week picked up some more steam late Sunday night when four-star running back Johnathan Thomas (Danvers, Mass./St. John’s Prep) flipped his commitment from Maryland to the Nittany Lions.

A four-star senior, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Thomas committed to Maryland over Arkansas on May 9, but started to think more and more about Penn State when the Nittany Lions threw an offer his way in September.

“I’m very excited and blessed to be a part of the Penn State family,” Thomas said in a text message. “Penn State has always been my dream school and it is truly a blessing to know that I will be getting an outstanding education at Penn State University.”

Thomas becomes the 14th commitment in the Class of 2014 for Penn State as the Nittany Lions continue to build a stable of running backs in this recruiting cycle.

He is also the second pledge of the week, as three-star tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) joined the class on Thursday.

Thomas joins Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax), Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic), and Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) as possible players that can line up at running back.

Despite being injured -- he has had season-ending surgery on his right knee -- the 43rd-ranked running back in the nation is a proven producer.

Thomas rushed for 1,794 and 15 touchdowns as a junior, and he ran for 700 yards and eight scores before bowing out this season.

Ranked as the top prospect in Massachusetts, Thomas wowed everyone back in January when he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the Under Armour All-American Combine.

Last fall, he was named to ESPN Boston's All-State Team and was the lone junior among the five finalists for its annual "Mr. Football" award after helping the Eagles capture the MIAA Division 1 Eastern Mass Super Bowl.

Where Thomas will help Penn State the most comes in his thick frame and durable running style. An inside runner who can pound the ball between the tackles, his speed once he gets through the crease makes him a threat every time he touches the ball.

Once he gets past the first level, his downhill style and ability to cut on a dime gives defenses nightmares. He’s a back that can be an every-down type of player for the Nittany Lions. His above-average hands also make him a threat in the passing game.

ESPN Penn State beat writer Josh Moyer and ESPN Boston.com writer Brendan Hall contributed to this report.