While they were busy picking up the first verbal commitment of the Bill O'Brien Era from Massachusetts prep safety Jordan Lucas on Monday, Penn State football assistant coaches Ron Vanderlinden, John Butler and new defensive coordinator Ted Roof also were trying to hold on to two of the most-prized recruits the Nittany Lions landed before the coaching change.
Roof, Vanderlinden and Butler dropped in on soft commits Camren Williams and Armani Reeves of Catholic Memorial School in West Roxbury, Mass. Both players are consensus four-star recruits. Reeves is a cornerback. Williams is a safety who projects to linebacker.
The pair was slated to visit Ohio State on Wednesday and then make their official visits to Penn State along with Lucas on the weekend of Jan. 27. O'Brien, currently finishing out his duties as the New England Patriots offensive coordinator, is expected to be in University Park that weekend regardless of how the Patriots fare because it will be an off-week before the Super Bowl.
Penn State has already lost several top previously committed players or players for which it was believed to have led to the Buckeyes; Colorado offensive lineman Joey O'Connor committed to Ohio State, where he'll join another former Penn State recruit, defensive tackle Tommy Schutt. Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence is committed to Ohio State, as well.
Reeves also is still considering Michigan, which he visited over the weekend.
While several members of the staff were in Massachusetts, assistants Charles London and John Strollo were in the Buffalo area to see running back Akeel Lynch and his top blocker at St. Francis Prep, Miles Bartholomew. Lynch, who recently began drawing attention from Oklahoma, has now decommitted from Boston College.
A large contingent of recruits were at University Park this past weekend for their official visits to Penn State, including all 11 of the other previously committed players except for Williams, Reeves and tight end Jesse James, who is already enrolled. They were joined by uncommitted safety De'metrious Cox from Jeannette.
Most of the early reports from the weekend were positive, and Maryland tight end Brent Wilkerson, who had been to Nebraska recently, reportedly reaffirmed his commitment. The staff seems also to have done a good job mending fences with Connecticut commit Malik Golden. It was believed likely Golden, originally recruited as a cornerback but now being brought in as a receiver, would decommit and instead sign with Iowa or UConn. Golden expects to have a final announcement soon.
The new staff already has made several new offers. One has gone out to Jonathan Warner, son of former Nittany Lion great Curt Warner and a wide receiver from Washington. Two more have been extended to Birmingham, Ala., teammates Beau Hankins and Harding Harper, who are both linebackers, while two others have been made to Towson, Md., Calvert Hall receiver Trevor Williams and defensive back commit Da'Quan Davis. Haitian-born lineman Wendy Laurent, a self-proclaimed Nittany Lion fan now at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J., was offered as well.
Williams and Davis had made verbal pledges to West Virginia. Calvert Hall is the alma mater of Lion freshman cornerback Adrian Amos.
Lynch, Laurent, Williams, Davis and Warner are scheduled to visit Penn State this weeked. In addition, Sean Fitz of Lions247.com broke a story on Monday that Georgia quarterback Steve Bench, who made a Rice commitment but is being pursued by Mississippi State and North Carolina, is scheduled to be on campus, too.
Websites also are reporting Penn State has a commitment from Maryland long snapper Joe Marvin to come in as an invited walk-on.