Nittany Lions add wideout Charles to ’15 class

Penn State got closer to completing its 2015 football recruiting class on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions also got a jump on 2016.

New Jersey rising senior receiver Irvin Charles and Woodland Hills junior-to-be running back Miles Sanders both gave verbal commitments while at Penn State, which had a number of top prospects on campus as it was holding a seven-on-seven camp this weekend.

Charles announced his decision on Twitter.

“I’m proud to say I officially committed to Penn State University #WeAre,” wrote Charles, who subsequently received a throng of congratulatory tweets, including some from fellow Lion commits.

Charles is the 18th verbal commitment in Penn State’s 2015 class, which probably will end up with 20-25 players in it by next signing day. He is the third wide receiver in this group and the sixth commit from the state of New Jersey – he plays for Paul VI High School in Haddonfield.

At 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, Charles is a big target, much like fellow Lion 2015 receiver recruit Juwan Johnson. Charles was third-team all-New Jersey in 2014 and a first-team selection among private school players after catching 49 passes for 848 yards and 11 touchdowns in a 7-3 season for the Eagles. He also ran for three scores.

“He’s an exceptional all-around athlete with versatility. Obviously, he’s a great wide receiver, but he’s also an excellent defensive player. He helped us at defensive back and linebacker, as well,” Pius coach John Doherty told

A consensus three-star recruit ranked the 25th-best receiver prospect in the nation by 247Sports, Charles picked Penn State over Florida and Miami. Penn State was considered the favorite to land him early but it appeared for a time the Lions might not be able to take another receiver after getting pledges from Johnson and Virginia slot Brandon Polk, but things opened up in the last month. His offer list also included Michigan State, Louisville, South Carolina, Alabama, Ohio State, Tennessee, Pitt and Wisconsin, among others.

Sanders is Penn State’s first recruit for 2016. He emerged as one of the top running backs in the WPIAL last season, when he ran for a team-leading 1,064 yards on just 128 carries for Woodland Hills. He scored 14 touchdowns and also caught seven passes.

He also topped George Novak’s team in rushing as a freshman in 2012 and is closing in on 2,000 career yards.

The 5-10, 195-pound Sanders, whose primary recruiter was former Gateway coach Terry Smith, is one of the consensus top 10 running backs in the country in the early rankings for the junior class.

“He’s a full package,” Novak said to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s a nice-sized running back. He’s strong. And he has great speed – runs in the 4.4s – and he (bench) presses 300. He’s a strong kid with great moves and great instincts. He has a lot of natural ability.”

Sanders has been linked to Penn State for some time, but Pitt, Michigan, Nebraska and Virginia Tech were among the other colleges that had offered him a scholarship early in an effort to sway him away.

The Nittany Lions also are involved with New Jersey’s Kareem Walker, the consensus No. 1-rated running back in the class of rising juniors.