Lions add standout safety

Penn State might be about to go on a run of football commitments.

It got started a little earlier than expected late Thursday night.

JaQuon Brisker, the Lackawanna safety rated as one of the top junior college prospects in the country, announced he had committed to the Nittany Lions on Twitter shortly before midnight.

Brisker, who recently had made a visit to Penn State with Lackawanna offensive tackle Anthony Whigan, selected the Lions over Alabama and West Virginia. He was expected to make another trip this weekend.

“They were saying it was the right fit for me and my family,” Brisker told 247Sports recruiting analyst Brian Dohn after the trip. “They say going to colleges far away, how long it will take and how much money it would cost, but (going to Penn State), my parents would be able to see a home game every Saturday. They were saying for me to see my family after a game and hugging them is important.

“They said there is also a good opportunity academic-wise, and they were saying I was a good fit in the defense, and they want me there and they need me there,” he added. “They told me I could come in and play free safety or strong safety. They said I have flexibility and that’s good. They said they put Marcus Allen and Troy Apke on the field, and it could be the same.”

At 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, Brisker is the nation’s top-rated junior college safety prospect and one of the top-10 JuCo prospects regardless of position. He played his high school ball at Gateway.

“Brisker has plus length and can stop and start quickly,” Dohn wrote in an analysis. “In pass defense, he runs well and he locates the ball quickly and he has good hands. He is comfortable playing close to the line or scrimmage or deep in the secondary, and he drives well on the ball thrown in front of him. He will punish receivers with hard, physical hits in which he leads with his shoulder. He runs well.

“Against the run, Brisker diagnoses the play quickly, and he is fast to react. He fills run gaps, and he is also a good tackler in the open field, and he can get to the edge.”

Brisker is seen as a player who might develop into a hybrid safety/linebacker at the college level.

Brisker is the fourth recruit in what figures to be a smaller-than-usual 2019 class for the Nittany Lions, and he is the second defensive back, joining State College’s Keaton Ellis.

That last fact might be important and might have impacted Brisker’s surprise commitment — he originally was expected to take several official visits and decide much later in the year. Penn State is expected to take five defensive backs in this class. Connecticut four-star Tyler Rudolph is expected to join the Lions class on Monday, and Virginia blue-chip safety Cam’ron Kelly has been on commitment watch for a couple of weeks.

If both of those players jumped on board, Brisker might have been left in a race with Connecuticut’s Marquis Wilson, Texas’ Lewis Cine and Pittsburgh’s Joey Porter Jr., among others, to get into the class.

That class figures to grow today, too. Virginia running back Devyn Ford is expected to pledge to the Lions over Virginia Tech this afternoon, and New Jersey defensive tackle Antonio Alfano could make a commitment today, too, although most expect him to announce for Alabama.

On Monday, in addition to Rudolph, Penn State is awaiting the announcement of Virginia five-star linebacker Brandon Smith — he’s expected to land at Penn State over Ohio State and Texas A&M.

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