Penn State football recruit Jordan Kerner is a legitimate 6 feet, 5 inches tall, so it takes a lot to impress him.
Shawn Oakman has what it takes.
"He's really tall,'' Kerner, who met Oakman while in University Park for a football camp a little less than two weeks ago, said with a tinge of awe in his voice.
The 6-8, 250-pound Oakman verbally committed to the Nittany Lions on July 1. However, it looks like what is good for Joe Paterno is good for Ed DeChellis, too, as Oakman, also a Division I basketball prospect who has helped Penn Wood High School to two consecutive PIAA championship games, plans to play both sports for Penn State.
"They [the Penn State football coaches] encouraged it. They fully support it,'' Oakman said in a phone interview from a team camp at Albright College in Reading. "So, that will be good.''
Oakman had basketball scholarship offers from LaSalle, St. Joseph's and Rice in addition to Penn State. However, Oakman had even more offers for football - the 17 sacks he registered from his defensive end position last fall had caught the attention of the likes of former NFL head coaches Dave Wannstedt of Pitt and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, who probably see Oakman as the second coming of Ed "Two Tall'' Jones, potentially.
Temple, UConn, Rice and North Carolina State were also part of a group Oakman said was "eight or nine'' football programs that extended him a scholarship offer. He eventually picked the Nittany Lions over Pitt and Temple.
"Basically, I had a strong feeling for [Nittany Lion defensive line coach] Larry Johnson,'' Oakman, who was offered by the Lions in January, said of his reason for choosing Penn State. "I thought he could push me to be the best in the best kind of way.''
At the time Oakman committed, with Penn State's recruiting stuck in a lull, some thought Pitt has pulled in the lead to land him. Oakman, though, said he wasn't pressured by Penn State to commit when he did.
"Committing early was totally my decision,'' said Oakman, Rivals.com's 244th-ranked prospect in the class of 2011. "I didn't want to worry about making a decision once school started.''
Oakman has good speed for his size - he's been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds - but acknowledges his has to refine his technique. That's not surprising, considering he's still something of a novice where football's concerned.
"I started playing football in ninth grade. I always liked watching football, but I didn't play,'' Oakman, a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles who enjoyed following Jevon Kearse growing up, said. "My first love was playing basketball.''
Oakman has been to University Park twice for football - once for a camp and once on an unofficial visit. He's made just as many trips for basketball, getting to perform at the Bryce Jordan Center in the PIAA Class AAAA finals the last two years.
His Patriots won during his sophomore season but fell to Plymouth-Whitemarsh this year. Oakman is already scheduling a return trip.
"Most definitely. We're going to try to win another state title,'' Oakman said.
Carter in charge
The Nittany Lions coaches think they got their tight end of the future in Delaware's Kyle Carter, but what they may not have realized is they also got a recruiter for the present.
Since committing to Penn State in late May, Carter has turned the tables on the recruiting process. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound New Castle William Penn rising senior has been working the social networking lines to try to convince some of the top prospects in the Northeast to join him in Penn State's 2011 recruiting class.
"I really do [think it's my responsibility],'' Carter said. "I know with Penn State that I want to have a lot of good players around me. After I committed, it took about a month until we got our second commitment. People were starting to get worried. I wanted to do anything I could to help.
"So, I read [Internet] articles. I started hitting up kids on Facebook.''
Kerner and Oakman are two new friends Carter has helped to draw in. He's been in touch with highly-rated New Jersey running back Savon Huggins, New Jersey receiver Miles Shuler and East Stroudsburg South defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett and just made contact with Angelo Mangiro, a blue-chip offensive lineman from New Jersey who is expected to announce his college choice later this month.
He's also been trying to reach New Jersey receiver Dameire Byrd.
"With Savon, I just talked to him,'' Carter said. "He still likes Penn State, but they haven't been showing him much love. I said, 'Well, then, I'll be your recruiter.' I show him Evan Royster and tell him how he could fit into that offense.''
Carter wasn't just making cold calls to these players. He got acquainted with many of them on the camp circuit over the last couple of years.
"They became familiar faces,'' Carter said.
Carter didn't want to take full credit for the idea of recruiting future teammates. He said he was following the lead of his cousin, New Jersey linebacker Quinton Alston, who has committed to Pitt.
"His mother and my mother are very close,'' Carter said. "His mother told me, 'You have to start recruiting like Quinton. You just can't recruit anyone who's looking at Pitt.'''
Carter himself hasn't gotten quite the hype as players like Huggins, Byrd, Shuler or Mangiro yet. Penn State was the first BCS-level college to offer him a scholarship; before the Lions, his only scholarship offers were from Bucknell and Delaware.
He jumped at the Lions' offer.
"Penn State was my childhood favorite. It was between Rutgers and Penn State,'' Carter, who camped at Penn State as a freshman, said. "I called all the other schools that were recruiting me to let them know I was solid to Penn State. UConn, Boston College, Rutgers, North Carolina State, Temple and Virginia were in contact with me. I was about to start to set up camp visits with them when Penn State offered.''
Carter was the most valuable player among the receivers and tight ends at the Ultimate 100 East combine this spring. He said the Penn State coaches have told him they visualize his upside as something similar to former Lion tight end Andrew Quarless because of his blocking ability and potential to develop into a receiving threat.
If that turns out to be the case, Penn State will have gotten a real steal. Carter said his high school receiving numbers have been deceiving because Penn hasn't thrown much.
"Everytime they threw the ball, I had to catch it,'' Carter said. "This year, we might be doing more passing. We've been looking pretty good in seven-on-sevens.''
Jarrett narrows list
Jarrett made news last week by trimming his list to nine schools. He expects to whittle that down again in another month.
Jarrett was once considered to be a heavy Penn State lean, but he didn't receive a scholarship offer until recently, which might have allowed other schools to play catch up.
"Kyshoen really likes Penn State, but I think he wants to take his official visits,'' Carter said.
Secondary appeared to be a point of emphasis for the Lions in 2011. Most recruiting analysts expected Penn State to try to bring in four defensive backs in a class expected to number around 16.
In addition to Jarrett, the Lions seem to be in the best shape with North Carolina cornerback Dominique Noble, Virginia corner Demetrious Nicholson and Virginia safety Michael Cole. Cole might make a decision in the near future.
Ohio's Doran Grant and Pottsgrove's Terrell Chestnut are still in the picture, as well. Meanwhile, Massachusetts cornerback Albert Louis-Jean was on campus recently, although he told reporters he was just visiting Penn State with friends and was still committed to Miami.