Nittany Lions get 4-star lineman

Fans who follow Penn State football recruiting thought the odds were strong that the Nittany Lions would land a verbal commitment this weekend, and that’s exactly what they got on Saturday.

It just wasn’t the blue-chipper they were expecting.

Steven Gonzalez, a 6-foot-3, 300-pound four-star guard from Union City High School in Union Hill, N.J. pulled the trigger for Penn State while on an unofficial visit with several other prospects.

“Just everything about Penn State made me commit, and especially the coaches, I really loved them,” Gonzalez said. “And the campus is amazing as always, and the academics are great. It felt like the best fit for me.”

Rated as the No. 3 guard and the 70th-best prospect in the country by Gonzalez was believed to be favoring Ohio State by a wide margin until a couple of months ago, and even coming into this weekend the Buckeyes were considered the team to beat by most recruiting analysts. Boston College, Rutgers, South Carolina and Wisconsin were considered to be his next tier of suitors after Penn State and Ohio State.

Union City went 9-2 last year with a team dominated by underclassmen. Gonzalez was second team all-New Jersey and already has been confirmed to have a spot in the Under Armour All-American Game.

Gonzalez’s commitment is Penn State’s 10th. The Lions currently are in second place in 247Sports 2015 recruiting team rankings.

Gonzalez was considered probably the least likely prospect to commit to Penn State while visiting entering the weekend, with New Jersey wideout Irvin Charles, Central Valley defensive back Jordan Whitehead and fast-rising Jersey linebacker Manny Bowen, who was offered while on the trip according to Internet reports, all being watched for potential commitments instead. However, Charles didn’t make it to University Park, and it appears neither Whitehead nor Bowen have jumped on board yet.

– Philip Cmor