It's been a pretty wild, unpredictable year in Pennsylvania high school football recruiting. Much of it stems from the tumultuous Penn State situation, and its subsequent coaching change.
A number of players the Nittany Lions seemed to have locked up, like U.S. Air Force All-American
and No. 3-rated Noah Spence
from Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.)
, No.38-rated J.J. Denman
of Pennsbury (Fairless Hills, Pa.)
and quarterback prospect Skyler Mornhinweg
of St. Joseph's Prep (Philadelphia)
all changed their minds.
Spence, the top-rated DE, considered Penn State one of his favorites before Penn State's administration fired legendary coach Joe Paterno, throwing the program temporarily into chaos. Spence, instead, opted to commit to Ohio State and new coach Urban Meyer
. Denman, a hulking 6-foot-6, 310-pound guard, had already changed his mind and decided on Wisconsin before the tumult at Penn State and on Jan. 21, changed it again to Rutgers when Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst took the Pittsburgh job.
"When I sit down on Wednesday, I will be signing with Rutgers," Denman said. "It has been a little wacky with all the changes, but my parents are cool with it. I know there's one thing that's good about it, they're happy to know I'm a lot closer to home. Penn State came back to me again, even after I committed to Wisconsin. But all the stuff Penn State is going through right now, it's not a good situation. [New Rutgers coach Kyle] Flood was still in contact with me the whole time, even after I committed to Wisconsin. This came down to Rutgers, Wisconsin, Pitt and Penn State. I'm happy with my choice."More info at MaxPreps 2012 National Signing Day page
Mornhinweg seemed locked into Penn State this summer, after decommitting from Stanford when Jim Harbaugh took the San Francisco 49ers job. But when Penn State's new coach, Bill O'Brien, started recruiting over him after promising that he wouldn't, Mornhinweg took visits to Florida and Virginia Tech. He committed to Florida coach Will Muschamp instead
Despite the coaching change at Pitt, No. 11-rated Rushel Shell
of Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.)
, Pennsylvania's all-time leading rusher, is remaining a Panther. No. 54 Greg Garmon
, the talented running back from McDowell (Erie, Pa.)
, has committed to Iowa, and No. 130 Jesse James
, a tight end from South Allegheny (McKeesport, Pa.)
, is one of the few players Penn State convinced to stay in state.Demetrious Cox
, a safety from Jeannette (Pa.)
rated No. 133, announced Jan. 30 that he will commit to Michigan State, and No. 165 Drew Harris
of Downingtown East (Exton, Pa.)
is a running back still bound for Virginia Tech.
PIAA Class AAA state champion Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
will see six players commit to Division I schools: tight end Colin Thompson
(Florida), center/defensive lineman Brandon Arcidiacono
and running back Desmon Peoples
(both to Rutgers), Brandon Peoples
(Temple) and Frank Taylor
(Boston College). Wide receiver Nate Smith
had originally committed to West Virginia, but is very close to changing his mind and looking at other options. Brendan Nosovitch
of Allentown Central Catholic (Pa.)
, ranked No. 18 among combo quarterbacks, is staying with his choice of South Carolina.