Penn State filled a lot of its 2009 recruiting needs in the defensive secondary last weekend.
On Thursday, the Nittany Lions went to work on the offensive line and made a big impact with the commitments of West Scranton All-American tackle Eric Shrive and Alexandria, Va., Edison guard Frank Figueroa.
They are the seventh and eighth recruits to make verbal commitments to Penn State.
Shrive is considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the country — Scout.com rates him the No. 3 tackle in the class and 23rd-best senior in the country regardless of position.
Rivals.com’s Mike Farrell reported midday that Shrive had given a non-binding oral commitment to Penn State coach Joe Paterno sometime in the morning. Later in the day, West Scranton coach Mike DeAntona confirmed that Shrive had decided to play for the Nittany Lions.
Shrive is a huge get for the Lions, and not one that was expected, at least this soon. Some considered Shrive to be leaning toward childhood favorite Notre Dame.
“I wasn’t caught off guard with his commitment to Penn State. I didn’t realize it was going to happen [Thursday],’’ said DeAntona, who had to call a substitute teacher in while he tried to learn more while being “bombarded’’ by phone calls from media and coaches. “Eric got to see a lot of places in the last few months. Penn State was always high on his list. People got caught up in the Internet gossip on Notre Dame.’’
His list of more than 30 scholarship offers included other top programs from across the nation, including Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Florida State, Miami, Rutgers, Illinois, Auburn, Georgia and Michigan.
Shrive reportedly benches 350 pounds and squats 450.
‘‘I think the thing that sticks out about him is his size. He’s a legit 6-foot-7 — probably even a little over that — 297-pound tackle that can move his feet really well. That opened a lot of eyes,’’ DeAntona said. ‘‘When you watch his film, you notice not only that he moves well but he’s really aggressive.’’
Figueroa, who actually committed on Wednesday, is less well-known than Shrive. His lone other offer was from William & Mary, although Virginia, Rutgers and Boston College appeared set to offer soon.
The son of a U.S. Army officer who spent 26 years in the service, Figueroa didn’t take up tackle football until ninth grade because his family was always moving around or living abroad in countries where football wasn’t played.
He is a 6-4, 275-pound guard that Edison coach Vaughn Lewis said is equally adept at pass and run blocking in the Eagles’ spread offense and carries a 3.9 GPA in his core courses.
‘‘With his work ethic and ability, he’s going to be an outstanding college football player,’’ Lewis said. ‘‘He has a lot of potential.’’
Figueroa is entering his third year as a starter. Originally a tackle, Lewis said Figueroa’s intelligence would allow him to play any position on the line, but Figueroa told the Mirror Penn State has him ticketed to play guard.
“When you think of Penn State, you always think of academics and of its tradition, football-wise,’’ Figueroa said. “I always loved football.’’
With Shrive and Figueroa, Penn State now has four offensive line players committed for 2009. They join North Carolina center Ty Howle and St. Joe’s Prep tackle Mark Arcidiacono.