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Prospects in Happy Valley for Nike Training Camp

May 10, 2008
By Philip Cmor,
Wide receiver and defensive back are two of the positions Penn State has targeted heavily for its 2009 football recruiting class, and a number of the Nittany Lions’ top targets at those positions will be on the University Park campus today.

They just won’t be there to visit Penn State.

The Penn State session of the Nike Training Camp comes to central Pennsylvania today. The camp, which is also organized with the help of Student Sports and, will run from 11 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. at Penn State’s Holuba Hall.

According to BlueWhite Illustrated, approximately 300 players are expected to be at the camp. However, there is a possibility that not as many will attend because of a new NCAA rule prohibiting college coaches from being on hand to watch — Bishop Carroll offensive lineman Steve Greene, for instance, had registered, but, according to Huskies coach Craig Sponsky, had pulled out because the coaches won’t be there.

If most of those registered do show up, though, it will include quite a few top prospects Penn State coaches are hoping to reel in.

That will be especially true in the secondary. Maryland safety Malcolm Willis, who is already in the fold for the Lions, is among those expected to attend. Virginia’s Jordan Love, New Jersey’s Nyshier Oliver, Perkiomen’s Abdul Smith, Maryland’s Travis Hawkins and Stephon Morris and West Virginia’s C.J. Crawford are also highly ranked possible attendees who either have Penn State offers or have the Nittany Lions near the top of their list of schools. Morris is from Derrick Williams’ high school alma mater, Eleanor Roosevelt.

There are a couple of pretty good wide receivers Penn State is pursuing among the list of registrants, as well: Parkland’s Jaleel Clark and Delaware’s Justin Brown.

Quite a few other big names that have already committed might be there, too, like Gateway linebacker Dorien Bell (Ohio State), Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome (Michigan), Philadelphia quarterback Tom Savage (Rutgers), Philly wideout Je’Ron Stokes (Tennessee) and Maryland cornerback Darrell Givens (Ohio State).

Mixed allegiances

The father of Penn State’s most recent commitment — St. Joseph’s Prep offensive tackle Mark Arcidiacono — played college ball for Temple, where he was recruited by Bruce Ahriens and lined up at defensive end. Mark Arcidiacono Sr., though, was far from upset when his son picked the Nittany Lions.

“I think if he had the chance, he would have gone to Penn State,’’ the 6-foot-5, 290-pound younger Arcidiacono said of his father. “He was a Penn State fan all his life. Everyone in the family is a Penn State fan.’’

A fan of Eagles lineman Jon Runyan, Arcidiacono picked the Lions over Florida and Rutgers; he went to Gainesville, Fla. for the Gators’ spring game. Notre Dame offered him a scholarship the day before he made his verbal commitment to Penn State.

Arcidiacono was not a well-known commodity until about three months ago.

“I was suprised,’’ Arcidiacono said of all the attention he attracted this spring. “My film went out. About a week and a half later, West Virginia called and offered.’’

It was a steady stream of offers after that.

“I would come home and my wife would ask who offered him today,’’ St. Joe’s coach Gil Brooks said.

St. Joe’s is one of the powerhouse prep programs in the east, and Arcidiacono — nicknamed “Archie’’ — didn’t get to start until his junior year because the the Hawks’ line was filled with eventual Division I recruits. Brooks runs a Multiple-I offense and tries to mix the run and the pass. This year, he is even looking to install some spread option, which should decrease Arcidiacono’s learning curve as he moves up.

“Coach Brooks excels at developing linemen,’’ Arcidiacono said. “He’s a technician. We have a lot of variety on offense.’’

Next commitment?

There’s a lot of anticipation from Penn State fans to learn who’ll be the Lions’ next 2009 recruit. Bronx, N.Y., safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong might be the guy — he told BlueWhite Illustrated recently that a decision could be coming in the next two weeks.

Obeng-Agyapong (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) is also weighing offers from Iowa, UConn, Maryland and Buffalo. He is from John F. Kennedy High School, which has produced current Lions Stephfon Green, Nerraw McCormack and Shaine Thompson.

In his interview with the Mirror about his commitment, Willis said he and Obeng-Agyapong have been keeping in touch since visiting Penn State at the same time.

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