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Sunday, November 18, 2012
PSU sees De'Niro Laster as next Hodges

By Jared Shanker

Cleveland Heights (Ohio) three-star athlete De’Niro Laster left Penn State after the first quarter of Saturday’s game, but the few hours on campus were enough for Laster to know the Nittany Lions will be a factor in his recruitment.

If the Lions offer Laster, Penn State would be “not a specific number, but they would be very high at the top of my list.”

Laster has several MAC offers and two BCS offers including one from Big Ten program Minnesota. More programs have become interested in Laster after his strong season at outside linebacker and are just waiting to see if his grades pan out.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Laster spoke with recruiter Stan Hixon and Nittany Lions linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden while visiting Saturday.

“They welcomed me and they treated me real nice. I talked to Coach Hixon, Coach Vandy talked to him,” Laster said. “They all love me. They say I got great size and everything. They love me on film.”

The Penn State coaches told Laster they envision him as the next Gerald Hodges, one of the Big Ten’s best linebackers.

“They were telling me they want me to play outside linebacker, want me to play where No. 6 [Hodges] is playing,” Laster said. “I watched him and he played like a safety and got in the box a lot. They want me to play that position.”

Laster could hear from the Penn State coaches this week about an offer, as the Lions want to be sure he will qualify academically if they offer.

“They talked about education and how important it is and how they care about their players,” Laster said. “But they also talked about how they do have like eight NFL linebackers right now and graduate 90 percent of their football players and a lot of schools don’t do that.”

Georgia Tech and Illinois could also offer Laster soon as he talked to Illinois assistant Steve Clinkscale recently. The Illini are in search of another outside linebacker after three-star commit Reggie Spearman said he was looking at other options.

“He told me I was the No. 1 prospect on the board and when the coaches sat down and see who they wanted to offer and who should get a scholarship they said I was the No. 1 guy,” Laster said. “They’re just waiting for my transcripts.”