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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Five to watch as PSU closes out class

By Brad Bournival

National signing day sits 106 days away and Penn State is looking to continue its hot streak in recruiting.

Here are five top seniors to watch and a look at where things sit right now as the recruiting circuit heats up to its final fevered pitch:

Thomas Holley
ESPN 300 DT Thomas Holley enjoyed a visit to Penn State, but Notre Dame and Ohio State could factor for the prospect.
1. DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)
6-foot-4, 303 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 86

Offers: Alabama, Baylor, Boston College, Clemson, Connecticut, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, USC, Vanderbilt

The skinny: Holley had a great time on his official visit during Penn State’s win over Michigan, and the Nittany Lions survived the defensive tackle’s official to Ohio State. That said this one is far from over as Holley is looking at visits to Florida and Notre Dame, though nothing is set in stone. This one could come down to Penn State vs. Ohio State again, but keep an eye on Notre Dame and Syracuse.

2. ILB Jason Cabinda
(Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central)

6-2, 221 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: Unranked

Offers: Boston College, Bucknell, Colgate, Connecticut, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Maryland, Massachusetts, Navy,  Old Dominion, Penn State, Temple

The skinny: Cabinda was with Holley at the Michigan game and said the atmosphere made him wish he was on the field right then. Although he’s a Syracuse commit, he is considering Penn State, and the Nittany Lions would take him. Another Big Ten suitor could make a push for Cabinda, but we’ll wait for things to become official before talking about a three-school race.

3. OT Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon)
6-6, 295
ESPN 300 rank: 142

Offers: Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Tennessee, Toledo, USC, Virginia, West Virginia

The skinny: Situations beyond his control kept Bookser from getting to the Michigan game, but Penn State is still a player. Bookser has pretty much shut down recruiting until after the season. He has Michigan State, Pitt, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee and Virginia in his final group. He is a bit of a homebody so the Hokies, Spartans and Volunteers are likely out. In the end, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him with the Panthers.

4. OLB Melvin Keihn (Baltimore/Gilman)
6-3, 225
ESPN 300 rank: Unranked

Offers: Boston College, Charlotte, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia

The skinny: The Nittany Lions came in late with an offer but immediately entered the mix. The fact teammate Troy Vincent Jr. is a Penn State pledge helps as does the fact the Nittany Lions are in need of a linebacker. He’s in the middle of a busy stretch where Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech will get official visits. Georgia Tech, Miami and Rutgers are in the mix as well. Expect this one to go to the end, but expect Vincent to be whispering the Nittany Lions anytime he gets a chance.

5. S Shawn Boone (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer)
5-10, 176
ESPN 300 rank: Unranked

Offers: Arkansas, Boston College, Florida, Indiana, Iowa State, Marshall, Maryland, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Purdue, South Florida, Syracuse, Tennessee, Washington State, West Virginia, Western Kentucky

The skinny: The need for a defensive back is still there with Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) trending down. Boone has taken official visits to Arkansas and NC State and will visit Maryland (Oct. 26) and Ole Miss (Nov. 8). He wants to see Penn State -- most likely for the Nebraska game (Nov. 23) -- so the Nittany Lions are very much a player. This one will most likely go to the end.