On the eve of what is promising to turn into a huge football recruiting weekend, Bill O'Brien's new Penn State football coaching staff received some good news.
Soft commits Nyeem Wartman and Malik Golden reaffirmed their pledges to the Nittany Lions over the last 48 hours. Wartman, an extremely athletic linebacker from Valley View High School, announced on Thursday that he was following through with his intention to sign with Penn State. Golden, a prep school wide receiver from Connecticut who originally was recruited as a cornerback, followed suit on Friday, according to BlueWhite Illustrated's website
Both players visited Penn State last weekend.
Lion recruiting did sustain a setback, too, though, as Massachusetts linebacker Camren Williams, one of the first players that committed for its 2012 class, switched his commitment to Ohio State during a midweek visit to Columbus.
A soft commit is a player that has announced he was planning to go to a college but continued to look at other colleges; verbal commitments are not binding according to NCAA rules. Wartman also was thinking about signing with Rutgers, while Golden still was entertaining offers from Iowa and UConn - several recruiting sites thought he was likely to sign elsewhere as recently as 10 days ago.
"Wartman was a key guy for Penn State to keep with them only having two linebackers in the class [before Williams decommitment] and both of them looking around. Penn State had to keep at least one of them,'' said Cory James, who follows PennState football recruiting for Scout.com. "Golden was perhaps more important because of the depth chart at defensive back for Penn State and the agressive schemes that Coach [Ted] Roof is rumored to be installing.''
Two other members of Penn State's 14-member 2012 recruiting class still are considered to have soft commitments: Philadelphia quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg and four-star Massachusetts cornerback Armani Reeves, a teammate and close friend of Williams.
Reeves visited Ohio State with Williams but didn't commit to the Buckeyes. He also is weighing a scholarship offer from Michigan. Reeves and Williams have been scheduled to visit Penn State together next weekend, three days before signing day.
One of the Lions' earliest verbal commitments, Williams is a safety who projects to linebacker in college and the son of former New England Patriots star Brent Williams. Reeves, the cousin of NBA great Charles Barkley, is a cornerback.
A half-dozen prospects are expected to be at University Park today, including Buffalo running back Akeel Lynch, Washington state receiver Jonathan Warner, Georgia quarterback Steve Bench, Haiti via New Jersey lineman Wendy Laurent and Baltimore Calvert Hall teammates Trevor Williams (receiver/safety) and Da'Quan Davis (cornerback).
Lynch, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season, was scheduled to visit Oklahoma, but eliminated the Sooners after poor weather caused a cancellation to his flight to Norman this week. He recently decommitted from Boston College and told the Mirror on Friday that he is down to Penn State, Iowa and Mississippi.
Warner is the son of Penn State great Curt Warner Williams and Davis played high school ball with Lion freshman cornerback Adrian Amos. Both have been verbally committed to West Virginia, while Bench is a soft commitment to Rice.
Recruiting analysts that follow Penn State closely believe there's a good chance the Lions could come out of the weekend with three or more commitments. Laurent, Warner and Williams are considered the most likely, but the Lions are believed to be in good shape with Lynch and Davis, too.
"I could easily see two commits coming out of this weekend, if not more. Wide receivers Jonathan Warner and Trevor Williams seem to be just waiting to set foot on campus to commit to the Nittany Lions,'' James said. "Perhaps most importantly, Akeel Lynch could commit this weekend to give Penn State some much needed running back depth with the loss of Stephfon Green and Brandon Beachum for next season.
"Typically, most recruits won't commit on the visit, but will take the visit home as some time to think, so I would expect Monday and Tuesday to be important days for the 2012 class.''
In other news, Penn State coaches reportedly visited four-star New Jersey athlete Devin Fuller this week, but it appears Fuller, who wants to play quarterback in college, is not interested in the Lions. He's looking closely at Nebraska and Rutgers, and new Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez is said to be making a late push for him.