Penn State Nittany Lions: Mark Allen

Overview: PSU 2014 offensive signees

February, 5, 2014
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The fax machine in Happy Valley has finally stopped whirring, and the list of signees now appears finalized.

So here's a closer look at the offensive players from Penn State's Class of 2014. PSU's five early enrollees can be found here.

WR Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J.)

Four stars (Scout grade: 83), ESPN 300, No. 118 overall, No. 14 at position

Committed: Jan. 26, 2014

Top offers: Alabama, Florida State, Rutgers

Synopsis: He's the headliner of the Wednesday signees. (Yes, De'Andre Thompkins is ranked above him, but enrolled early.) Blacknall originally committed to Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights might have gone a little too long without an offensive coordinator. During his official visit there, one still wasn't in place. He was Rutgers' top commit and is now a notch in Franklin's proverbial recruiting belt.

Scouting report Insider: Is a consistent playmaker with the ball in his hands.

Chris Godwin
Miller Safrit/ESPNChris Godwin is a headliner in Penn State's class at wide receiver.
WR Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del./Middletown)

Four stars (Scout grade: 83), ESPN 300, No. 159 overall, No. 21 at position

Committed: April 23, 2013

Top offers: Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford

Synopsis: He and Thompkins are close -- and the two wanted to stay together. About a week before Franklin became head coach, Godwin told ESPN.com that Franklin was the coach he was hoping for. He represented Penn State at the Under Armour Game.

Scouting report Insider: Can be a vertical threat due to size and elevation, but might struggle to stretch and separate at next level.

RB Johnathan Thomas (Danvers, Mass./Saint John's Prep)

Four stars (Scout grade: 80), No. 44 at position

Committed: Oct. 20, 2013

Top offers: Arkansas, Boston College, Maryland

Synopsis: He attended the same high school as former coach Bill O'Brien, but was originally committed to Maryland. He flipped once PSU offered, however, as he was also a longtime PSU fan. He even sported a Penn State hat at a workout two summers ago. He's also coming off a torn ACL.

Scouting report Insider: Overall, Thomas is a strong, downhill runner with multi-carry, load-back potential.

WR Troy Apke (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon)

Three stars (Scout grade: 79), No. 70 at position

Committed: April 13, 2013

Top offers: Kentucky, Minnesota, Pitt

Synopsis: Penn State fans learned the term "schadenfreude" when the Pitt target in the Panthers' backyard became Penn State's first wideout to commit. He was off the radar as an underclassman because he was part of a run-first team; that changed in a big way during his junior season. He had 54 catches as a junior and 40 as a senior, averaging more than 18 yards a catch both seasons.

Scouting report Insider: Apke is a savvy, smart and tough player who catches everything thrown in the area code.

QB Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods)

Three stars (Scout grade: 79), No. 60 at ATH position

Committed: Jan. 20, 2014

Top offers: Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Synopsis: McSorley has the ability to play a lot of positions, but Franklin still wants him at quarterback. He's a dual-threat who's been reportedly clocked in the 4.5s, and he could add another wrinkle to the Nittany Lions' future passing offense. He's a very different quarterback than ESPN 300 QB Michael O'Connor, who enrolled early.

Scouting report Insider: He is athletic and has a nose for the ball.

TE Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional)

Three stars (Scout grade: 78), No. 12 at position

Committed: Oct. 17, 2013

Top offers: Ohio State, Florida State, Wisconsin

Synopsis: O'Brien believed he was the best tight end in the nation ... and O'Brien knew his tight ends. Gesicki greatly improved his Scout grade from his junior to senior season, and he chose PSU over an offer from Urban Meyer. He was hosted by Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg during his official visit.

Scouting reportInsider: He is a tweener H/WR who, with time in the weight room, could become a better fit on the inside, which would increase his BCS level value.

OT Noah Beh (Scranton, Pa./Scranton Prep)

Three stars (Scout grade: 77), No. 57 at position

Committed: June 1, 2013

Top offers: Boston College, Maryland, Pitt

Synopsis: Beh was recruited by some schools as defensive end, and O'Brien initially wasn't sold on Beh because of his 245-pound weight. He called Beh into his office once in February of last year and didn't offer, but then called him in a second time -- and told Beh he loved his blue-collar attitude and no longer believed the weight was an issue. He has the frame to add the weight.

Scouting report Insider: We feel he could possess a little greater upside as an O-lineman, but will need time to develop and at least a redshirt will likely be needed to add size and continue to develop technique.

RB Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax)

Three stars (Scout grade: 76), No. 107 at position

Committed: Feb. 23, 2013

Top offers: Boston College

Synopsis: ESPN named him one of the top performers at a Nike Football Training Camp, and he was sold on PSU pretty early. In an earlier interview with ESPN.com, Scott was asked when he knew during his visit that he was going to commit. His answer? Crossing the state line to Pennsylvania.

Scouting report Insider: Scott is a pretty exciting weapon as a pass catching running back with the versatility to split out in the slot and be a factor in the passing game.

OT Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, Ill./Maine Township South)

Three stars (Scout grade: 75), No. 98 at position

Committed: Jan. 14, 2014

Top offers: Illinois, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt

Synopsis: He flipped from Vanderbilt four days after Franklin became head coach. He said Franklin's energy was a big reason for his commitment and believed that Penn State had the higher ceiling when compared to Vanderbilt.

Scouting report Insider: Brosnan moves well for his size.

RB Mark Allen (Hyattsvile, Md./DeMatha)

Three stars (Scout grade: 73), No. 149 at position

Committed: Oct. 16, 2012

Top offers: N/A

Synopsis: He was the first pledge of this class, and he committed as soon as he received an offer. He tore his ACL as a junior but played a big role in keeping this recruiting class together during the transition to another staff. He said he believed he needed to be a leader because he was the first commit, and he lived up to those expectations.

Scouting report Insider: We see very good change of pace/utility back potential.

OT Chance Sorrell (Middletown, Ohio/Middletown)

Three stars (Scout grade: 70), No. 50 at TE-Y position

Committed: Jan. 11, 2014

Top offers: Louisville, Vanderbilt, West Virginia

Synopsis: He injured his ankle during his junior season and then tore his labrum right before his senior season. That turned off quite a few teams, and that's a big reason Sorrell flew under the radar.

Scouting report Insider: More of a traditional in-line TE and could very well end up developing into an OL at the college level.
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:


Penn State lands commitment No. 14 

October, 21, 2013
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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.

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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From official visits past and future to a commitment, the Big Ten was buzzing with headlines this week.

Here’s a look at a few programs that highlight a busy week in this week’s Big Ten storylines.

Boiler Up


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B1G High school games of the week 

September, 5, 2013
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Each week Big Ten recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline a few big high school games involving Big Ten recruits and commits. Here is this week’s list:


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PSU position preview: Running backs

August, 22, 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: Running backs.

Projected starter: Zach Zwinak (2012 stats: 1,000 rushing yards, six touchdowns, 4.9 yard average; 20 catches, 177 yards, one TD)

Key losses: Michael Zordich (301 yards, 3.8 yard average, four touchdowns; 15 catches, 162 yards)

Next in line: Bill Belton and Akeel Lynch will split carries, although there's really no clear No. 2 right now. Belton was listed as the backup on the post-spring practice depth chart, but there's no telling who'll finish with more carries by the end of the season.

Pat Zerbe is the starting fullback right now, but he's not expected to see all that much time as a ball-carrier. Redshirt sophomore Deron Thompson, who isn't on scholarship, impressed in the Blue-White Game and will likely step up if there are any injuries.

What to expect: This group isn't as deep as last season, but it should still definitely be improved. Big things are expected out of Lynch, the redshirt freshman, and he could be the big-play threat PSU needs out the backfield.

There's definitely a nice balance here. Zwinak is the straightforward, wear-the-defense-down runner. Lynch is the young speedster who can run in the 4.4s. And Belton is more balanced and should be a threat in the passing game since he played wideout as a freshman.

It took the Nittany Lions a few games last season to find an identity at tailback. Zwinak is the workhorse, while the other two can offer him a breather and the offense a bit of a different look. All three will be utilized this year, and all three will return again in 2014. This group is only going to get better, and this season should set a strong tone.

Recruiting trail: If depth is a problem now, it certainly won't be that way in 2014. PSU already garnered two RB commits here in three-star tailback Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) and three-star prospect Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha).

Allen is coming off a torn ACL and likely won't make an early impact at Penn State. Perhaps, as a result, the Nittany Lions might not be done at tailback this recruiting season. Another tailback -- Qadree Ollison out of Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius -- is a prospect with a unique blend of size and speed. The 6-foot-1, 228-pound back who runs a reported 4.5 is from the same high school league as Lynch, and some coaches there think Ollison might even be better.

PSU entered the race late for Ollison, but the Lions remain near the top of his list. Ollison should decide in early September, and Wisconsin is likely the biggest competition right now.

Best-case scenario: Zwinak carries this offense while the rookie quarterback gets adjusted and averages around six yards a carry. He earns at least an honorable mention on the All-Big Ten team, while Lynch breaks some big, key runs and Belton contributes in a lot of different areas.

Worst-case scenario: Zwinak starts off the season a bit slow after a spring wrist injury that forced him to wear a red shirt the first few weeks of the preseason. He does fine after the first few games, but that throws off the offense. The other two backs fare OK but don't break out like some fans hoped.

Top position question: How many carries can Lynch and Belton expect to see? It's the answer everyone wants to know, but there's no easy way to know. Head coach Bill O'Brien could go a lot of different ways, but we can look back to last season and try to project it that way.

In the last seven games, once Zwinak became the clear No. 1, the tailback took about 62 percent of the running backs' carries. If the offense remains balanced and everything remains equal, that means there would be about 13-15 carries a game for those two to split.

There's lot of variables at this point. But, right now, that's our best guess. And if someone's on a roll -- like Zwinak against Wisconsin -- all bets are off.

Sound off: Commits discuss Ireland game 

July, 15, 2013
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With the news of Penn State and Central Florida opening the 2014 season in Ireland, NittanyNation decided to poll the current commits to get their take on the move to play in central Dublin.

Every pledge was admittedly excited. Here's what they had to say:


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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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NittanyNation mailbag 

June, 21, 2013
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Welcome to NittanyNation's mailbag! We asked you to tweet or email your questions, and we've selected three to answer in-depth this week.

Brian Wess (@bwessfootball) writes: What do you make of the Qadree Ollison offer? Would they take three running backs this class? Would they move Nick Scott to safety? Also, why do you think they just offered him now?


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5 Questions: 2014 commit Marcus Allen 

June, 7, 2013
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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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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- At least a dozen 2014 prospects will be taking in the annual Blue-White Game on Saturday, and the staff is hoping a a large crowd will be able to persuade at least one recruit to commit.

Here's a list of those visitors, complete with an overview on each player, in addition to a list of some big-name prospects who'll be elsewhere.

ATTENDING

RB Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha): He was the first commit of Penn State's 2014 class, and he said he's bringing along DeMatha teammates QB John Lovett and LB JaWhaun Bentley. He's currently ahead of schedule in recovering from an ACL tear.


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Scouting reports on PSU's 2014 commits 

April, 4, 2013
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ESPN's scouts recently released reports on Penn State's three 2014 commits, so NittanyNation decided to take a closer look at each player and what those scouting reports had to say:


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NittanyNation: Week in review

March, 31, 2013
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NittanyNation takes a look at this week’s Penn State football news and what you might have missed:

Coach talk: 2014 RB Mark Allen 

March, 27, 2013
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What kind of player is Penn State getting in running back Mark Allen? And what can fans expect?

NittanyNation turned to one of the people who knows best what the 2014 PSU commit is capable of on the field -- Elijah Brooks, his high school coach at Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha -- and asked what separates Allen as a player, how he first noticed Allen's ability and when the player especially showcased his potential.

RB Mark Allen, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, 5-foot-7, 185 pounds


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Instant Awesome: Franklin's Daughter Dominates
Penn State football coach James Franklin posted a video of his daughter taking on the sleds and yelling, "We are Penn State!"
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