Penn State football received some positive news on the recruiting front on Friday with the news that North Carolina blue-chip wide receiver prospect DeAndre Thompkins intends to fulfill his verbal commitment and play for the Nittany Lions.
"I am and will be a Nittany Lion. Enough said. #WeAre," said a message on Thompkins' Twitter account on Friday afternoon.
Thompkins had been scheduled to enroll at Penn State for the spring semester.
The 5-foot-11, 172-pound consensus four-star player had been considered perhaps the most difficult prospect to hold onto in this 2014 class after Bill O'Brien left for the Houston Texans because receivers coach Stan Hixon - who was moving on with O'Brien - was so instrumental in his recruitment. A number of analysts predicted he would wind up at another college or at least reopen his recruitment and not enroll in January.
Thompkins was one of four Lion recruits playing in Thursday's Under Armour All-American Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. One of his coaches there was former Penn State star linebacker LaVar Arrington, and Thompkins gave Arrington a shout-out on social media after announcing his decision.
"Thanks to my man @LaVarArrington he reminded me of what a Penn State Football player was," Thompkins tweeted.
"You are!! ;-) can't wait to watch you in that Blue and White! #beALegend," Arrington responded.
Another Lion recruit who appeared to possibly be in play with O'Brien's departure, New Jersey tight end Mike Gesicki, reported on the Lions247 website Friday night that Gesicki had told him he still was committed to Penn State. Ohio State and Wisconsin figured to make strong pushes for him and still might.
With Thompkins and Gesicki's announcement, Canadian quarterback Michael O'Connor appeared to be the toughest recruit for Penn State to hold onto. Michigan State has continued to pursue O'Connor, who was Thompkins' teammate in the Under Armour game and, like Thompkins, was set to enroll at Penn State Jan. 13.
In an interview with NJ.com on Thursday, O'Connor's former passing instructor, Victor Tedondo, said those plans had changed.
"One thing I know for sure, he told me yesterday that he will not be going to school in January, because he's not sure what he's getting himself into. So he is going to delay his decision," Tedondo said.
However, O'Connor told the Mirror Friday night it wasn't for certain.
"Not 100 percent. Depends on when they hire a new coach," O'Connor said.
Interestingly, one of the other schools recruiting O'Connor is Vanderbilt, whose coach, James Franklin, has emerged as a perceived favorite for the Nittany Lion job.