Penn State's football recruiting bonanza continued Friday as the Nittany Lions received verbal commitments from a big-name safety and a former safety who now plays linebacker who has close ties to a Big Ten rival.
And the Lions might just be heating up.
Things got off and running early in the day when Marcus Allen - no relation to the Hall of Fame running back but a four-star safety recruit from Upper Marlboro, Md. - verballed to Penn State. Late in the afternoon, Warren, Mich linebacker Jared Wangler gave his pledge to Penn State following an unofficial visit to University Park.
Allen and Wangler's decisions gave the Lions nine Class of 2014 recruits with Baltimore Gilman cornerback Troy Vincent Jr.'s commitment to Penn State believed to be imminent, as well. Six of those commitments have taken place in the last month, as Penn State looked well on its way to filling its available scholarships in light of the NCAA sanction limits.
"I felt very comfortable on the visit," Wangler said of the reason and timing of his decision. "Penn State's really stood out to me. Coach [Ron] Vanderlinden has been recruiting me, and he's phenomenal. I feel very comfortable with him and with Coach [Bill] O'Brien.
"I wanted to find a place that fit me really well, and Penn State definitely offers great academics along with great football."
A 6-foot-1, 218-pounder from De La Salle Collegiate High School, Wangler actually played safety up until last year. He said the coaches told him they see him as a field linebacker similar to current Nittany Lion Mike Hull because of his ability to play in space and defend the pass. As a junior, Wangler had 76 tackles, forced and recovered two fumbles and returned his one interception for a touchdown.
He chose Penn State over Michigan State and Cincinnati.
Wangler has plenty of familiarity with Big Ten football: His father, Johnny, played quarterback at Jared's childhood favorite school, Michigan, and his brother, Jack, is a walk-on freshman wide receiver with the Wolverines.
"They were both extremely happy for me. They wanted me to go where it was the best fit for me," Jared Wangler said.
Allen had 69 tackles, nine pass breakups, caused two fumbles and recovered two fumbles as Wise High School went 14-0 and won its first-ever Class 4A state title.
The 6-1, 180-pound Allen's list of scholarship offers was extensive. He had in the neighborhood of 30 offers, ultimately picking Penn State over the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Maryland, Pitt and Rutgers. Schools from as far away as Nebraska, Arizona and Stanford offered him.
"It's hard to find a 6-2, 190-pound kid that can run and hit," Wise coach DaLawn Parrish told the Washington Post. "He still has room to grow, and he can play multiple positions. When you find someone like that they're going to be highly sought after.
"He basically told me he was tired of the whole recruiting process," Parrish added. "He had looked around and narrowed it down. He knew what he wanted in a program. He thought he found that at Penn State."
Allen is a member of the Prime Example Defensive Back Academy, where he's been mentored by Troy Vincent Sr and Roman Morris, the father of recent Nittany Lion Stephon Morris. The younger Vincent is believed to be on the verge of committing to Penn State, too, after he reportedly cancelled an unofficial visit to Georgia Tech this weekend.
Maryland, Wisconsin and Pitt are the schools hoping the 5-10, 192-pound Vincent doesn't become and Lion and close his recruitment in the next couple of days.
The good news didn't end there for the Nittany Lions. Although he is considered a heavy Michigan lean, Paramus, N.J., Catholic safety Jabrill Peppers recently revealed that Penn State is high on his list and that he would be visiting University Park next week. Peppers (6-1, 205) is a consensus top-10 national prospect.
He also visited Penn State in March.
"He loved his visit [to Michigan]. But he loved his visit to Penn State, too. I think it says a lot about the coaching staffs at Penn State and Michigan," Paramus Catholic coach Chris Partridge said.
Partridge said he believed Stanford and LSU were the other two colleges Peppers was most closely considering. Peppers is said to be looking to have his choice by early next month.
Penn State was thought to have only 12-13 scholarships available in this recruiting class, with at least one each ticketed for an offensive lineman and defensive lineman and possibly one for a quarterback. However, analysts that follow Lion recruiting think the staff would find players like Peppers and Aliquippa cornerback Dravon Henry too difficult to turn away and would find an available scholarship for them somehow.