Texas junior picks Penn St

If one of Penn State football coach James Franklin’s New Year’s resolutions was to finish out on a blockbuster 2018 recruiting class, the Nittany Lions wasted no time getting to work on that.

Just an hour after the calendar turned on the east coast, Texas junior defensive back Isaiah Humphries made a verbal commitment to the Lions.

Humphries is the seventh member of next year’s Penn State recruiting class. All seven are at least four-star prospects according to 247Sports composite rankings of the top recruiting websites, and four of them are rated among the top 100 players in their class.

“I’ve realize that there aren’t many opportunities to play in front of 107,000+ people regularly and with that be part of a legendary recruiting class,” Humphries posted on his Twitter account. “That being said, I would like to announce that I am committing to Penn State University.”

On Dec. 22, Humphries had announced a final eight of Penn State, California, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Utah and Vanderbilt. Houston, Iowa State and Northwestern also were on the 5-foot-11, 188-pounder’s offer list.

“So far, football has taken me places I never imagined it would and I am very grateful for the friends I’ve made along the way,” Humphries wrote.

Humphries also thanked his parents in the post. His family, in fact, probably played a key role in why he made the decision to play his college ball more than 1,300 miles from his home in Sachse — his father, Leonard, played in the secondary for the Nittany Lions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where he was a teammate of current Penn State assistant coach Terry Smith. Most analysts predicted he would pick Penn State.

The elder Humphries was an eighth round NFL draft pick in 1992.

Isaiah Humphries prefaced his commitment post on Twitter with the line “Continue the Legacy.” He’s well on the way to doing that. He just finished a season in which he made 54 tackles, intercepted five passes, forced two fumbles and blocked two kicks. Sachse went 11-1, losing to eventual Class 6A state finalist The Woodlands in the playoffs.

After the campaign, Humphries was named honorable-mention all-Texas. He also was selected as one of 48 players for the U.S. Under-18 national team which will play a team of Canadian all-stars on Jan. 28 in the North American Championship, formerly known as the International Bowl.

Two of Humphries’ interceptions came in a victory over then 8-0 Rowlett, a performance that helped earn him Dallas News defensive player of the week.

“Isaiah’s interceptions were big drive-stoppers and momentum-changers,” Sachse coach Mark “Red” Behrens said.

Scout.com analyst Gabe Brooks said Humphries can be a fit at either safety spot at the next level.

“Isaiah Humphries is an instinctive safety prospect who can always be found near the ball,” Brooks said. “Possesses the coverage awareness and savvy to break on passes to create big plays. Sound tackler who also regularly provides the big hit. Ballhawk who was responsible for several turnovers as only a sophomore. When you watch him it’s obvious he has an intangible feel for the game. Physical player who’s unafraid to crash downhill vs. the run or step in the box pre-snap to set up an edge blitz. Good closing speed in the open field.

“There don’t seem to be many holes in his game.”

Also a classical-trained musician who performs at weddings and dances, Humphries is the second defensive player to commit for 2018, joining five-star defensive end Micah Parsons of Harrisburg. The Lions also have received pledges from Georgia quarterback Justin Fields, New Jersey wideout Justin Shorter, tight ends Zack Kuntz (Camp Hill) and Pat Freiermuth (Massachusetts) and Wyoming Valley West tackle Chris Bleich in what currently is 247’s top-rated class in the nation.

Penn State also might be getting close to a commitment from the top-rated running back in the class, Virginia’s Ricky Slade. The Lions reportedly are vying with Virginia Tech for Slade’s services.

While the Lions’ 2018 class is blooming, Penn State’s 2017 recruiting effort might be done, not because the team is running out of interested prospects but because it is running out of roster spots. Before Sunday’s Under Armour All-American Game, Maryland four-star linebacker Nathan Proctor verbally committed to Virginia Tech.

However, Proctor still is scheduled to take an official visit to University Park later this month, with speculation that he could eventually end up at Penn State if a couple of players with eligibility remaining declare for the draft, transfer to another school or bypass their final year of eligibility after redshirting.

Virginia defensive lineman Elijah Conliffe also remains on the Lions’ board if enough spots open up.