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Monday, December 10, 2012
Weekend Rewind: Penn State

By Josh Moyer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- What sanctions?

On a weekend designated for official visits, four recruits committed to Penn State -- including at least three defensive players -- and helped solidify a class stocked with quality offensive talent. The Nittany Lions' Class of 2013 now stands at 17 recruits.

Cornerback Anthony Smith earned an offer Saturday and committed Sunday, linebackers Jonathan Walton and Zayd Issah pledged to the Blue and White, and wideout DaeSean Hamilton also told the staff he wanted to become a Nittany Lion. Those verbals filled definite needs for PSU, the most glaring of which was cornerback.

"We're obviously really excited about those guys," said Adam Breneman, the nation's No. 1 tight end, who was also on his official visit. "We got to know them really well, and it was good for us to be together for the guys who weren't committed to see what Penn State's all about.

"In the end, they wanted to be a part of it."

Smith will enroll early -- counting against the 2012 scholarship count as a result -- and should compete for immediate playing time. He's a bit of a wild card, spending this past season at a postgraduate school, Wayne (Pa.) Valley Forge Military. He earned Div. II offers out of high school and never saw another FBS offer. But he'll be given every opportunity to play in 2013.

Only two returning cornerbacks -- Adrian Amos and Da'Quan Davis -- saw significant time this season, and Penn State is in major need of someone who could be that extra corner in a nickel package. The depth was so shallow this year that the Nittany Lions didn't even utilize the nickel, instead opting to sometimes plug in a faster linebacker, Mike Hull, during obvious pass plays and shifting Amos to safety.

"They told me I had to earn my spot," said Anthony Smith, who is one of two cornerbacks in the class, along with Jordan Smith. "Hopefully, if everything works out, I'll be playing next year if I do what I need to do."

While Smith will add to the secondary, Walton and Issah will help shore up PSU's reputation as Linebacker U. Walton is a bit of an under-the-radar recruit, but his reported 4.5 speed prompted defensive coordinator Ted Roof to offer him just a week after evaluating his film over the summer.

Walton was ready to commit until the sanctions hit. And, like Walton, Issah also backed off after the sanctions -- decomitting in early September. They're both Nittany Lions now, however, and Issah's commitment might have been the most surprising.

One month ago, Issah said he wasn't certain if he'd even take an official visit to PSU. He was strongly being courted by Oregon and planned to schedule an official visit to see the Ducks. But when PSU rebounded from the sanctions and he again saw what Penn State had to offer, he couldn't resist.

He was the top linebacker left on Penn State's board, and his commitment strengthens this class. It might even help reel in Drew Scales, a slot receiver also from Harrisburg (Pa.) Central Dauphin, as a preferred walk-on.