Penn State's 2010 football recruiting class - currently ranked in the top 10 nationally by some services - might be about to take a big hit.
According to some sources, the damage could be self-inflicted.
Baltimore's Adrian Coxson, rated the No. 8 wide receiver prospect in the country and the third player to commit to the Nittany Lions for this recruiting class back in April, took an official visit to Florida over the weekend and has set up another with Georgia for next weekend.
The twist is that Coxson may be doing so at the encouragement if not the outright urging of the Penn State coaching staff. Several members of the FightOnState.com Web site message boards are claiming they learned independently Coxson essentially has been told by the Lions to look for other college options, sparking a couple of lengthy discussion threads on the site's forums in the last few days.
Penn State coaches are prohibited by NCAA rule from commenting publicly about unsigned recruits, but those reports corresponded with word FightOnState recruiting analyst Cory James has been getting recently.
"From talking with other recruits in this class Coxson is with friends with, they think he is just taking the visits, but he is still coming to Penn State,'' James said. "But I've heard from sources Penn State might not have room for him with some of the recruits they've brought in with this class and last year's class.''
In 2009, Penn State signed seven players who could play receiver, and three of them - Justin Brown, Curtis Drake and Devon Smith - saw significant playing time as true freshmen. After Coxson, State College's Alex Kenney and former State College athlete Levi Norwood, whose father is former Lion assistant coach Brian Norwood, committed to Penn State over this summer.
Some have speculated Kenney could play defensive back and that Norwood could grayshirt, meaning he would enroll next January and count against the 2011 scholarship limit. Penn State originally was expected to have 15-18 available scholarships available for 2010 and even fewer for next year but already has 20 verbal commitments for this recruiting season with several top prospects still weighing offers from the Lions.
Coxson downplayed the situation Monday night.
"I'm still committed to Penn State. Nothing is really going on,'' Coxson said.
Coxson, who is from the same high school as former Lion standout and NFL player Bryant Johnson, said he was going to schedule his official visit with Penn State Tuesday. However, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound receiver was uncertain if he'd be in a position to announce a college after visiting Penn State.
"I really don't know,'' Coxson said. "I'm still committed to Penn State.''
City College coach and athletic director George Petrides said he hadn't heard the rumors and firmly believed Coxson would end up a Nittany Lion.
"I certainly hope it's not true,'' Petrides said. "He's always wanted to go to Penn State.''
If the Lions were to lose Coxson, it could be two big blows in one weekend. Philadelphia five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was quoted by ESPN-operated NittanyNetwork.com that "I just don't see myself [at Penn State]'' after his George Washington High School team was eliminated from the playoffs by LaSalle on Saturday. George Washington assistant coach Mike Wallace told the Mirror on Tuesday, however, that the Lions still were in the mix for Floyd.
The Nittany Lions still definitely are in the mix for two players from the south, though. Georgia defensive tackle Mike Thornton still hasn't narrowed his list of schools, but his only visit so far has been to Penn State; he was on hand for the Ohio State game.
"It's nice. It seemed like a great place for college football and a great place to get an education so you're ready when you go out into the real world,'' Thornton said. "Penn State had always been a school I liked. I wanted to visit as soon as I found out they offered me [a scholarship].''