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Harlan on recruiting: Penn State football flexing 'recruiting muscles'

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 8:18 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Penn State head coach James Franklin reacts after a play against Ohio State during a college football game Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, at Beaver Stadium in University Park. Penn State beat Ohio State 24-21.

Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Iowa.

Penn State coach James Franklin's staff secured weekend commitments from five football recruits from five states, an achievement that shows just how far the Nittany Lions can reach nowadays for players, Rivals.com's Adam Friedman said.

“You see Penn State flexing their recruiting muscles coming off the momentum from last year,” said Friedman, the Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst for Rivals. “Every single one of the commitments they got this weekend is from a different state.”

After this weekend's prospect camp, Franklin added two wide receivers, a defensive lineman with an NFL father, a kicker and a 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback, Will Levis, who showed this weekend he “has the tools” for the job.

Rivals now ranks Penn State's 19-player recruiting class at third overall behind only Miami and Ohio State.

“They've always been a bit national (in their recruiting reach),” Friedman said, “but you're seeing the better talent nationally in this class. They had a five-star quarterback from Georgia. They've got New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and Texas in this recruiting class. It's a really wide range of talent, and the large majority of this class is over three stars. That's really impressive.”

Four-star receiver Daniel George from Oxon Hill, Md., was the highest-rated recruit among the five weekend additions. The 6-2, 205-pound wideout was ranked No. 228 overall nationally and No. 43 among receivers.

“He looks like a linebacker the way he's built,” Friedman said. “He's a big-time guy. He's a good route-runner and has very reliable hands. He's a guy that can be counted on over the middle of the field. If he gets the ball in space, he's going to run over defensive backs.”

George raised Penn State's four-star commits total to 13 for 2018, but three-star Levis is certain to draw the most interest.

“The biggest name is Levis because he's filling up the position that was vacated by Justin Fields, (a five-star quarterback who decommitted in June),” Friedman said. “Levis earned the offer there at camp, and he committed shortly after.”

Levis doesn't carry the same national profile as Fields (6-3, 220), a Georgia native who's ranked No. 1 among dual-threat quarterbacks for 2018. But Levis' stock improved considerably at camps this summer.

Just since June 1, the Xavier High School star has used Twitter (@will_levis) to announce scholarship offers from Florida State, North Carolina, Iowa, Syracuse and Ole Miss.

“He's a big, athletic guy with a strong arm,” Friedman said. “We saw some of that from the camp (this weekend). He's not as developed as Fields when it comes to his accuracy or going through his progressions, but the clay is there. Coach (Joe) Moorhead and Coach Franklin are really good at developing players, especially at the quarterback positions. Will has got the tools. He can really be molded into the guy that Penn State needs him to be.”

The other weekend commits were Harrisburg receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts (6-0, 197, three stars), defensive lineman Judge Culpepper (6-5, 240, three stars) from Tampa, Fla., and kicker Jake Pinegar (6-3, 195, two stars) from Ankeny, Iowa.

Culpepper's father, Brad, played defensive tackle in the NFL.

“They've picked their guys, and they're really going after them,” Friedman said. “Regardless of what state they're in, they're having success.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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