Lions get verbal from highly-touted linebacker

A four-star linebacker became the latest addition to Penn State’s growing and rising 2015 football recruiting class on Sunday.

Josh Barajas, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound inside linebacker from Merrillville, Ind., is the 11th player to verbally commit to the Nittany Lions. Barajas, who made an unofficial visit to University Park on March 22, is ranked as the top prospect in his state and the second-best player at his position in the country by

Like New Jersey guard Steven Gonzalez, who committed to the Lions on Saturday, most thought Penn State was close by likely to finish second or third in the running for Barajas’ pledge – most figured he would end up at Notre Dame.

“It was a tight run with Notre dame, Michigan and Penn State,” Barajas said Sunday afternoon. “I picked Penn State because I felt comfortable and knew they were doing big things.”

Barajas also had Ohio State in the mix. His offer list included Oregon, Mississippi, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech, as well.

Known as a standout athlete who also is a state qualifier in swimming, Barajas had 90 tackles last fall in helping lead Andrean High School to the Indiana Class AAA championship. As a sophomore, he won an Illinois Class 8A state title at Mount Carmel High School.

Barajas is the eighth player that has committed to Penn State that has been given a consensus four-star rating by the major recruiting services. The Lions’ class now is ranked second by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout.

Linebacker is considered a position of crucial need for the Lions in this recruiting class, and Barajas is the second of what will probably three or four recruits brought in at the position, joining Archbishop Wood’s Jake Cooper. Penn State just offered New Jersey outside linebacker Manny Bowen, one of the country’s fastest-rising prospects, on Saturday and is consider the leader or among the leaders for him, Cleveland’s Jerome Baker and Indianapolis’ Darrin Kirkland.

There’s also been speculation that Central Bucks South running back Josh Adams could commit as an athlete with the long-term plans developing him on the defensive side of the ball.

– Philip Cmor