Lineman selects Lions over OSU

For decades, we’ve been told that juice is an essential part of a good breakfast. Juice certainly has helped make Cathedral Prep football healthy over the last two years — the Ramblers’ offense averaged better than 400 yards in 2016 and scoring 80 touchdowns en route to a 14-0 record and a PIAA Class 4A title.

Now James Franklin and defending Big Ten champion Penn State are hoping to pour it on to their conference opponents in the years to come by adding a generous portion of “Juice” to their program.

Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs, that is.

The Nittany Lions continued to try to squeeze every last drop from their 2018 recruiting class when they got Scruggs, the state’s consensus No. 1 offensive lineman and a four-star prospect, to pick them over Big Ten rival Ohio State on Friday afternoon.

Scruggs is the 21st recruit in a class expected to finish with 24 or 25 signees. The Lions’ class currently is rated in the national top five by every major recruiting service.

“It felt like home every time I went down there,” Scruggs told the Erie Times-News. “The coaches really treated me like family, and they reached out a lot. That’s a big deal to me.”

The 6-foot-3, 273-pound Scruggs is the fourth offensive lineman in Penn State’s class, joining tackles Nana Asiedu, Antwan Reed and Bryce Effner. Scruggs projects to the interior of the line, however — 247Sports ranks him as the No. 2 center in the class, but he also projects as a guard according to some scouts.

“Scruggs plays left tackle in high school, but he has a chance to be a dominant guard in college,” national analyst Brian Dohn of Scout.com said. “He is quick and explosive at the snap, he is powerful and he has excellent feet. He is quick and clean with his footwork, and he is rarely off balance because he gets them underneath himself so quickly. He has fast hands, his initial punch is outstanding and he finishes his blocks well. He drives his legs and remains engaged on the defender. His quick feet and athleticism allow him to pull with ease, and he targets linebackers well.”

Scruggs was effective both in the run and pass games last fall as Cathedral Prep netted more than 200 yards in both aspects, eventually beating Imhotep Charter and Penn State 2018 four-star safety recruit Isheem Young in the state finals.

“Scruggs is an important get for James Franklin and company as he immediately becomes the heir apparent at the position to Connor McGovern,” 247Sports national analyst Steve Wiltfong wrote. “Scruggs is a physical player. He has a terrific punch, has good feet, attacks defensive lineman and athletically should be able to make all the blocks required on the interior.”

Michigan, LSU, Michigan State, UCLA and North Carolina were among the other big-time colleges in the hunt for Scruggs. An Ashtabula, Ohio native, though, Scruggs was considered to be leaning to Ohio State, his reported childhood favorite, until recently. Penn State recruiting fans, in fact, had become pessimistic about their chances after he missed a couple of opportunities to make visits to University Park.

“It was very tough to say no to Ohio State,” Scruggs told the Times-News. “Urban is a legend in my hometown, and Ohio State was my dream school. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life.”

Scruggs, though, had been considered a prime target for the Lions since he burst onto the varsity scene two years ago. The Ramblers are 28-2 with him in the lineup.

“Penn State walked in here between his freshman and sophomore years and was impressed by his work in the weight room,” Prep coach Mike Mischler said to the Times-News. “Then he had a big sophomore year on the varsity level which really had schools interested in him. He’s a talented young man and outstanding kid. Penn State landed a great recruit.”

Scruggs joins Mercyhurst Prep linebacker Jesse Luketa as the second player from Erie to verbally commit for this Lion class.

Penn State might further bolster the line in the coming weeks, with Maryland four-star tackle Rasheed Walker expected to wind up a Nittany Lion.

Penn State quickly is running out of open spots in this recruiting cycle. The Lions also are considered the team to beat for Cincinnati defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins, son of Johnstown’s Artrell Hawkins, and are at or near the top of the list for Maryland defensive tackle P.J. Mustipher, New Jersey defensive end Jayson Oweh, New Jersey receiver Jahan Dotson and Arizona wideout Solomon Enis, the son of former Lion star Curtis Enis.

In addition, wide receiver commit Shaquon Anderson-Butts told PennLive.com in an article that appeared Friday that he was working on his Harrisburg High School teammate Micah Parsons, considered one of the top 10 players in this year’s class. He said he expected Parsons to become a Nittany Lion, too.

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