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High School Recruiting

Gorman: Penn State is 'wild card' for Whitehead

Kevin Gorman
| Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, 11:10 p.m.
Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead works out July 29, 2014.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead works out July 29, 2014.

James Franklin hasn't wasted any time using his charisma and charm on the recruiting trail to compile a national top-10 class.

We'll soon find out whether the Penn State coach is a closer.

Adam Friedman, the Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst, called Penn State the “wild card” in the recruitment of the top remaining prospect in the WPIAL.

The Nittany Lions are the dark horse for Central Valley cornerback Jordan Whitehead, given that he already has visited Pitt, Ohio State and West Virginia. Whitehead is in Happy Valley this weekend for his final official visit before announcing his college choice on Friday.

“You can't count out the Penn State Nittany Lions, especially the way they're recruiting lately,” Friedman said Friday on TribLIVE Radio. “James Franklin has been on an incredible hot streak.”

Franklin has 20 players committed from the Class of 2015. That includes Baldwin's 6-foot-8, 310-pound offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins, an Under Armour All-American who is one of the Lions' 12 four-star recruits and seven in-state recruits.

The 5-foot-11, 171-pound Whitehead is a four-star prospect ranked in the top 250 nationally by Rivals.com.

“He's got that ‘it' factor,” Friedman said. “He's a really tough player, very strong, instinctive, a technically sound player who has a lot of athleticism and potential all over the field.”

Whitehead has gone incommunicado to eliminate outside influences on his decision, Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said.

“When he put this process together, he wanted to give all four official visits their justice as far as evaluating them,” Lyons said. “I'm assuming this week he'll kind of sit down and start coming to a choice.”

Whitehead also has schools he can compare to Penn State. He visited Pitt for its opener, and saw WPIAL products Tyler Boyd and James Conner play starring roles as sophomores.

Ohio State is considered the favorite, but the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech on Whitehead's visit. When he visited West Virginia last weekend, his hosts were fellow Beaver County stars in running back Rushel Shell of Hopewell and safety Dravon Henry of Aliquippa.

Now, it's Penn State's turn.

“There's been rumors that Whitehead isn't a huge fan of the atmosphere on campus, but his mind could change after seeing it on game day,” Friedman said. “You never know what a player is going to think about it once he's there.”

We'll see if PSU is unrivaled when it comes to recruiting — and whether Franklin can close the deal.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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