Penn State Nittany Lions: Marcus Allen

Penn State positions to improve: No. 1

February, 14, 2014
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The end of this week's countdown is finally here. And if you're surprised by this top choice, then you just haven't been watching the past two seasons ...

No. 1: Safeties

[+] EnlargeRyan Keiser, Malcolm Willis
Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsPenn State defensive back Ryan Keiser (23) has experience at safety, but he must improve to get on the field in 2014.
The players: Adrian Amos (50 tackles, six pass deflections), Ryan Keiser (38 tackles, 11 pass deflections), Jesse Della Valle (21 tackles), Malik Golden (eight tackles), Koa Farmer (incoming freshman), Marcus Allen (incoming freshman), Christian Campbell (incoming freshman)

Last season: This group has been the Nittany Lions' Achilles' heel for the past two seasons. Amos started 2013 as a safety while Trevor Williams tried his hand at cornerback. Neither fared well, however, and that experiment was abandoned midseason with Keiser taking over. Keiser didn't fare any better, and the safeties found themselves constantly out of position. A third-and-long play was no guarantee for a punt the next down, and better quarterbacks -- like Blake Bortles and Braxton Miller -- absolutely shredded this secondary.

What's missing: Ability. There's really no other way to put it. You could go with speed or athleticism or awareness, but all adjectives point back to that same simple trait: talent. Malcolm Willis was a really hit-or-miss player last season, but he was at least a team leader who knew the signals well enough to become the "quarterback of the defense." With his graduation, that won't be easily replaced either. Amos is a great corner, too, but he wasn't such a great safety.

Moving forward: It's not an easy exercise to even decipher who might be a safety next season. Amos didn't fare well, but the newest roster update still puts him at the position. Even Jordan Lucas could technically play the position. Those two are clearly the best cornerbacks, but the concern is obviously how much of a liability safety is with the team's top two DBs both at corner. Last season, PSU fared better with both at corner. This season -- who knows? One of the incoming freshmen could become a Day 1 starter, or maybe Golden takes over after a strong spring. Whatever happens, though, the most surprising move might be having two of the more experienced safeties -- Keiser and Della Valle -- both starting alongside one another. Both came to Penn State without scholarships and have impressed in that regard, but they're simply not a good season-long solution to PSU's issues at safety.

On the bright side, though, could Penn State's safety play really be any worse than it was the last two seasons?
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The signees' breakdown continues now with defense.

You can find the overview of the offensive signees here. And, once again, here's a list of the early enrollees that are not included here.

LB Troy Reeder (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum)
Four-stars (Scout grade: 81), No. 25 at position
Committed: Feb. 26, 2013
Top offers: Miami (Fla.), Pitt, Rutgers

Synopsis: He's an All-American lacrosse player who originally committed to play the sport at powerhouse North Carolina before opting for football and Penn State. He'll likely play in the middle, and he could be next in line for a spot when Mike Hull graduates.

Scouting report Insider: A big, strong physical prospect and a jumbo athlete of sorts who can run for his size and make plays with ball skills.

LB/S Koa Farmer (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame)
Three stars (Scout grade: 78), No. 72 at ATH position
Committed: Jan. 25, 2014
Top offers: Cal, Utah, Washington

Synopsis: He could play either safety or linebacker -- or a hybrid of both. He was the first Cal commit of the 2014 class, but defensive coordinator Bob Shoop helped sway him and an official visit clinched it. He wants to eventually earn a Ph.D. in pathology.

Scouting report Insider: Shows flashes on defense as a high-point safety who would likely need to move to strong or nickel linebacker.

Daquan Worley
Scott Fink for ESPNDaquan Worley was a prolific running back as a senior before a knee injury ended his season.
DB Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville)
Three stars (Scout grade: 77), No. 82 at ATH position
Committed: May 2, 2013
Top offers: Georgia Tech, Pitt, Rutgers

Synopsis: He tore the ACL in his right knee in October, and that ended quite the senior season for Worley. The two-way athlete rushed for 1,246 yards -- averaging 9.6 yards a carry -- and he does have an outside shot to play at tailback at the next level. PSU discovered him after initially recruiting linebacker teammate Tyler Burke.

Scouting report Insider: Worley is not going to blow you away with size or speed measurables on paper, but he brings a lot of versatility to the table.

S Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md./Wise)
Three stars (Scout grade: 77), No. 61 at position
Committed: May 10, 2013
Top offers: Clemson, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest

Synopsis: Allen began his career as an undersized linebacker and thought the varsity coach was crazy when he wanted to promote Allen through junior varsity as a safety. After a lot of convincing, Allen agreed to play a 7-on-7 game at safety following his freshman season. He ended up with three picks -- and never played linebacker again.

Scouting report Insider: Improved man-to-man skills will really enhance his stock.

CB Grant Haley (Atlanta, Ga./The Lovett School)
Three stars (Scout grade: 76), No. 41 at position
Committed: Jan. 20, 2014
Top offers: Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Synopsis: Yes, he was a Vanderbilt flip -- but his mother actually attended Penn State in the 1980s. Franklin anticipated him returning kicks at Vanderbilt, so Haley could be a critical part on special teams, too.

Scouting report Insider: An elusive and dynamic running back on offense with natural change-of-direction and movements.

LB Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central)
Three stars (Scout grade: 74), No. 119 at ATH position
Committed: Oct. 23, 2013
Top offers: Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse

Synopsis: Ron Vanderlinden spent a lot of time with Cabinda during a summer camp and, when Jared Wangler decommitted in favor of Michigan, that opened up the spot for Cabinda, who was a Syracuse pledge. Syracuse contacted him again after Bill O'Brien left, but Cabinda didn't budge.

Scouting report Insider: He could easily be the big back teams look for, or also be projected as a a solid standup LB.

DL Torrence Brown (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Tuscaloosa Academy)
Three stars (Scout grade: 73), No. 130 at OLB position
Committed: Feb. 5, 2014
Top offers: Southern Miss, N.C. State, Northern Illinois

Synopsis: If there was any sort of surprise on signing day, Brown was the closest thing to it. He received an offer the day before he planned to sign with Southern Miss -- and flipped to the Nittany Lions. He takes the spot of DE Lloyd Tubman, who flipped from Vandy to PSU, then flipped again to Kentucky.

Scouting report Insider: This is a developmental size prospect who will need time and a redshirt year prior to challenging for playing time at the major level of competition.

CB Amani Oruwariye (Tampa, Fla./Gaither)
Three stars (Scout grade: 73), No. 76 at position
Committed: Jan. 30, 2014
Top offers: Louisville, Nebraska, Vanderbilt

Synopsis: He's another Vanderbilt flip. He's tall for a corner, at 6-foot-1, and he played some receiver -- but he's a DB through and through. Since his sophomore season, he's tallied a dozen interceptions.

Scouting report Insider: He is of ideal height and, with time on his side, he should be able to bulk up, which will help his playing strength and confidence in run support.

S Christian Campbell (Phenix City, Ala./Central)
Three stars (Scout grade: 72), No. 127 at position
Committed: Feb. 3, 2014
Top offers: Missouri, Minnesota, Memphis

Synopsis: Campbell was set to pick between Minnesota, Indiana and Syracuse before before Penn State entered the race. He took some heat on Twitter for the choice, but said that Franklin had been recruiting him even before the Gophers and Hoosiers. He was a surprise pickup for PSU.

Scouting report Insider: Many lower-level BCS programs should envy his toughness and admire the attitude and physicality he will bring to a program.
Here's a compilation of Twitter reaction from current players, former players and recruits regarding Bill O'Brien's decision to coach the Houston Texans:


Best Big Ten recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

Michigan and Ohio State both sit in the top 10 recruiting rankings this year after each landed top 10 classes in 2013 -- the Buckeyes were third, while the Wolverines were sixth.

That's why it should come as no surprise that the two schools have the top four recruiters in the Big Ten Conference for the Class of 2014 so far.

Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters in the Big Ten and why they deserve such high praise:


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Bill O’Brien isn’t missing a chance to put Penn State on center stage this week as the Nittany Lions prepare to play host to undefeated Michigan.

With an eye to the future, the reigning Big Ten Coach of the Year has more than a busload full of visitors coming to check in on his program.

Here are the biggest names scheduled to head to Happy Valley this weekend.

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PSU position preview: Safeties

August, 19, 2013
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As part of an ongoing series, NittanyNation will preview a different position leading up to the season opener against Syracuse on Aug. 31. Up today: Safeties.

Projected starters: Adrian Amos (2012 stats, as CB: 44 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions) and Malcolm Willis (45 tackles, one fumble recovery, two pass breakups)

Key losses: None

[+] EnlargeAdrian Amos
Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoAdrian Amos moves back to safety this season, where he could be a star for the Nittany Lions.
Next in line: Stephen Obeng-Agyapong started at safety last season, but he's the top backup now that Amos slid over from cornerback. SOA is one of the fastest players on the team and should still see a lot of time this season.

Walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Ryan Keiser is also listed as one of the primary backups, and he played in every game last season -- mostly on special teams. Keiser is a solid situational player who gives this position added depth. Jesse Della Valle is likely safety No. 5, so he won't see much time at the position, but he'll contribute on special teams.

And, of course, we can't forget about the younger players. There are some talented guys here who could make an impact well down the line ... just not this season. Think redshirt freshman Malik Golden or true freshman Neiko Robinson.

What to expect: This might be the most improved group from last season. The safeties were the weakness of the defense, but Amos instantly solidifies this group. And it would surprise no one if he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors at his natural position in 2013.

With depth and experience -- two characteristics this position didn't have last season -- offenses should no longer be able to target this group downfield. Those long, third-down conversions should be a thing of the past, as long as the corners can hold up their end of the deal.

This was an average group on a good defense last season. Now the safeties are good, and Amos could be one of the best. This is his chance to break out, and it's Willis' secondary to lead. Big things should be expected at this position.

Recruiting trail: Three-star 2014 safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md./Wise) already committed in May, and he's a big body who could see early playing time once he arrives on campus. The 6-foot-2 safety used to play linebacker in high school, and he has earned a reputation as a hard-hitting player. He can definitely offer some good run support.

PSU also still is pursuing a few defensive backs, notably ESPN 300 safety Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway). Nicholson is taking his recruitment slowly, but PSU is on his short list. He would be a huge boon to the Nittany Lions' 2014 recruiting class.

Best-case scenario: Amos earns a spot on the All-Big Ten first team, and there's even some chatter about All-America honors. He cements the fact he boasts an NFL future, as Willis exceeds expectations and helps the young corners along with his calls and adjustments.

Worst-case scenario: Amos is forced to move back to cornerback, and the combination of Willis and Obeng-Agyapong struggles a bit. There's some progress from last season, but not much, and this group turns in an average performance over the course of the season.

Top position question: What does Amos' move to safety mean for Penn State? It means a couple things. For one, now that there's actually some depth here, Amos can play the position he's best at -- and, as we previously mentioned, it also means defensive coordinator John Butler has enough faith in the two new cornerbacks.

Amos was a good cornerback and earned an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team last year. But he's an even better safety. He could be the secondary equivalent of Allen Robinson, and his versatility gives this defense an incredible boost. Forget Mike Hull or Deion Barnes; Amos is the most valuable player on this defense for that very reason.

Expect Butler to utilize Amos in a lot of different ways -- and expect Amos to shine. By the end of his career, he could be mentioned with the likes of Kim Herring and Darren Perry. The cornerback-turned-safety is poised for a breakout season, and by extension, that means nothing but good things for the Penn State defense.

Summer recruit wrap: Penn State 

July, 23, 2013
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- What have we learned about Penn State, recruiting-wise, from the summer?

NittanyNation outlined 10 different lessons. Here they are:


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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions have nearly closed out their 2014 class and have basically addressed every need. But what were the biggest needs heading into this class anyway, and just how well has PSU done?

NittanyNation takes a closer look at PSU's five areas of need in the 2014 class and just what they've achieved already with this group.


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Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.

This week's subject is Marcus Allen, a three-star 2014 safety out of Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise, who committed to Penn State last month and visited PSU for Wednesday's cookout.

NittanyNation: You were one of the commits there for Wednesday's cookout. So, tell me, what was your favorite part about that whole experience?

Marcus Allen: My favorite part was just bringing all the recruits together and interacting and getting to speak to some recruits that didn't commit yet and just trying to persuade them. It made me feel right at home, like I made the right decision. I feel very comfortable with where I'm going to college.


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Three Penn State commits are currently ranked in the ESPN 300 -- WR De'Andre Thompkins (No. 54), QB Michael O'Connor (No. 125), WR Chris Godwin (No. 153) -- so NittanyNation wanted to find out a little bit more about the headlining trio.

The same five questions were posed to each commit and ranged from the top reason they picked PSU to their thoughts on their ESPN rankings and what other PSU commit should've made the ESPN 300. Here's what they had to say:


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Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or coach about all things Penn State.

This week's subject is Marcus Allen, a 2014 commit from Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise who's slotted to play free safety for the Nittany Lions. Allen pledged on May 10 and was Penn State's eighth commit of the class.


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What kind of player is Penn State getting in safety Marcus Allen? And what can fans expect?

NittanyNation turned to one of the people who knows most what Allen is capable of on the field -- DaLawn Parrish, his high school coach at Upper Marlboro (Md.) Wise, who played defensive back for Wake Forest -- and asked what separates Allen as a player, how he first noticed Allen's ability and when the player especially showcased his potential.


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NittanyNation week in review

May, 12, 2013
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NittanyNation takes a look at this past week's Penn State football news and what you might have missed:
Safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md./Wise) has just become the eighth commit for the Nittany Lions, his head coach confirmed.

"I believe that he looked at all of his options, took a couple of visits, really liked the atmosphere and liked the coaching staff," Wise coach DaLawn Parrish said.

Allen said in March that he hadn't really formed an opinion on the Nittany Lions. But after a visit to spring practice -- and a closer look at the facilities, tempo and staff -- the 2014 prospect said his entire outlook had changed.

PSU became a favorite in a short period of time, and he was at the Blue-White Game last month talking to commits like Mark Allen. Marcus previously said that early playing time with PSU was also a positive.

"They showed me the depth chart and said I could make an impact," he said. "They didn't say I would get a starting position -- no school would tell me that -- but they said the opportunity to play early is really high. So I know if I work my butt off in the weight room and classroom, then I can get that job."

Allen finished his junior season with 69 tackles (39 solo), two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The former linebacker also deflected nine passes.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect holds more than 20 offers. He chose Penn State over schools such as Clemson, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Pitt and Rutgers.

He is the second defensive back of the 2014 class, the first of whom, Daquan Worley, came just last week.
The secondary is a focus with this class, so the recruits here will play a big role in whether this 2014 class will be considered a success.

As a result, NittanyNation decided to produce a top-five list that attempts to mirror the Lions' big board. Daquan Worley already committed, but there's at least two more open spots here.

1. CB Jabrill Peppers, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Five stars; No. 2 in ESPN 150


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Penn State 2015 Class Debuts At No. 3
Craig Haubert discusses recent additions to the Nittany Lions' 2015 class and first-year coach James Franklin's success on the recruiting trail.Tags: Adam McLean, Ryan Bates, Penn State Nittany Lions, James Franklin
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