Penn State loses LB recruit to Virginia Tech

Penn State has had almost a dozen of the class of 2017 football recruits verbally committed to it this weekend with the idea of solidifying the group and bringing them closer together.

Instead, the opposite happened.

The Nittany Lions’ recruiting class has one fewer player today as Virginia linebacker Dylan Rivers, one of the first prospects to commit for this year, flipped to Virginia Tech after visiting University Park Saturday and Sunday.

“After much thought and prayer it is in mine and my family’s best interest to decommit from Penn State University,” Rivers posted on his Twitter page.

After thanking Lion head coach James Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry, Rivers said he now intended to sign with Virginia Tech. According to internet reports, Rivers’ girlfriend attends Virginia Tech.

It’s a big blow. Linebacker was considered a key position for recruiting in this class, and Rivers as thought by some to have a chance to contribute this coming fall. Penn State has two other linebackers in the class — Brelin Faison-Walden enrolled on Jan. 7 — but it was thought it might look to add another even had Rivers remained on board.

The Lions acted quickly to try to fill the void left by Rivers’ departure, coming through with an offer to Maryland four-star linebacker Ellis Brooks, who Penn State already was trying to convince to visit next weekend. Penn State also has been involved with Virginia Tech linebacker recruit Nathan Proctor, but his interest in the Lions is unknown after his intended official visit this past weekend was pushed back.

With signing day coming on Jan. 1, Penn State now has 19 recruits and probably two or three scholarships still available. However, two Lion commits — guard C.J. Thorpe and receiver Mac Hippenhammer — have been looking at other colleges and are possibilities of varying degrees to decommit like Rivers.

Penn State could receive an addition to its class today when Maryland cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields announces from among the Lions, the Terrapins and Alabama.

— Philip Cmor