PSU recruiting hits some speedbumps late

The smooth ride Penn State football seemed to be enjoying on the recruiting front just 48 hours ago has gotten a bit bumpy.

In the wake of the decommitment of prized Virginia linebacker Dylan Rivers during his official visit to University Park on Sunday, four-star cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, who appeared all set to make a pledge to the Nittany Lions on Monday, abruptly has decided to delay his announcement.

“I apologize for all inconveniences, but with a lot of prayer and talking I have decided to push back my commitment to Feb 1st (signing day) this will allow me to be 100% sure on my decision. This is what’s best for my family and I as well. I won’t be taking any visits,” Castro-Fields posted on his Twitter page.

Castro-Fields went on to request no one contact him for interviews.

According to Sean Fitz of Lions247.com, Castro-Fields appears to be down to a final two of the Nittany Lions and Maryland, with Alabama finishing third in the running for his services. Penn State appeared to have moved to the forefront when he took an official visit to University Park on the weekend of Jan. 13. He was hosted by his former Riverdale Baptist High School teammate Zech McPhearson, a redshirt freshman cornerback at Penn State.

The 6-foot-1, 173-pound Washington Post all-Met selection also holds scholarship offers from Pitt, Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska, Temple, Rutgers and Syracuse, among others.

James Franklin made an in-home visit with Castro-Fields last week, and the Lions do have an assistant coach visit available to them.

With Castro-Fields’ postponement, Penn State’s recruiting class is left in a holding pattern with 18 recruits, the Lions did add Abilene Christian transfer corner Jabari Butler as a walk-on on Monday. The Lions convinced Pittsburgh Central Catholic guard C.J. Thorpe to forego his plans to make an official visit to Michigan this weekend and the early reports were that they solidified their position with Indiana receiver Mac Hippenhammer, who was considering making an official visit to Notre Dame, his reputed dream school — the Irish still are pushing to get him on campus.

Penn State figures to end up with 21 or 22 recruits in this class — another scholarship opened up on Monday with the announcement that former Gateway defensive tackle Brenon Thrift had left the team.

Meanwhile, Penn State apparently made up some ground in an effort to sway four-star Maryland defensive lineman Joshua Paschal out of his intention to sign with Kentucky during the large official visit session over the weekend that Paschal attended with nearly every early enrollee or verbal commitment in the 2017 class. Paschal’s brother is a graduate assistant with the Wildcats, but, according to online reports, the official visit to University Park game Paschal something to consider.

The Lions will have a number of other potential additions to the class for officials this weekend. Philadelphia wideout Mark Webb, Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot, Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs and Oregon graduate transfer Jalen Brown all are scheduled to make trips, according to FightOnState.com’s Patrick Loney.

Webb is verbally committed to Georgia and Hendershot to Indiana, while Ruggs is considered a heavy Alabama lean.

Penn State also is hoping to secure a visit from four-star Maryland linebacker Ellis Brooks and will visit him this week in that effort.

Butler (5-11, 165) was a three-star cornerback originally out of Las Vegas prep power Bishop Gorman. After choosing Abilene Christian over FBS Rice, Tulane and Wyoming, he made an immediate impact with the Wildcats by garnering Southland Conference freshman of the year honors in 2015, when he picked off six passes and broke up another nine.

He was a preseason all-conference choice heading into 2016 but only played half the year, registering a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.

A speedster who has run a sub-11-second 100 meters, Butler grew up in Potomac, Md. before moving to Nevada. He visited Penn State in late November.


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