January 13, 2010

Wednesday Recruitin': Three to Watch for 2010

Today we'll break down three prospects that Penn State is making a concerted effort to land by signing day, Feb. 3--running back Marcus Lattimore, defensive tackle Mike Thornton and athlete Shyquawn Pullium.

With 18 of 23 scholarships currently offered to other recruits, seven of whom are already enrolled and on campus, Penn State has to make sure it really gets a bang for its remaining five bucks, starting with these guys.

Shyquawn Pullium
Position: Athlete/Defensive Back
High School: Erie(PA)/Cathedral Prep
Measurables: 6-1, 178 lbs

The Scoop... Pullium has great size at 6-1 for a defensive back, his most likely position on Penn State's roster. He's not nearly a blue-chip prospect, as his best ratings put him as the 31st (Rivals) overall prospect in Pennsylvania, and the 75th (Scout) cornerback nationally. He does have extensive experience on offense. As Prep's quarterback, Pullium led the team in rushing and passing, accounting for a whopping 61 touchdowns in 2009.

Ok, but what about Penn State? It's incredible that Pullium hasn't yet pulled the trigger on the Nittany Lions. Mike McQueary extended the scholarship offer about a month ago, knowing Pullium had Penn State at the top of his list since the beginning. He still has offers from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Maryland and Toledo. The Panthers have been doing well in-state, and Pullium would be another solid pickup for the 'Burgh. In the end, though, it just looks like a matter of time before Pullium signs with Penn State.

Visits: Pullium will visit Penn State this weekend. There are no other scheduled visits right now... Penn State - 1/15/10 (scheduled)

Mike Thornton
Position: Defensive Tackle
High School: Stone Mountain(GA)/Stephenson
Measurables: 6-2, 280 lbs

The Scoop... Thornton can be considered an elite defensive tackle prospect, as he is ranked 10th (Rivals), 11th (Scout) and 18th (ESPN) on the position charts. It seems that his size, only 6-2, has hurt his stock a bit, because for a prospect to be rated this high, even with the size issue, he must be a top talent. Thornton has a great motor, in the model of Tamba Hali, another defensive lineman who was picked on by scouts for his size. The reason I bring up Hali is that he came to Penn State as an elite defensive tackle, but made the move to end. He's now starting in the NFL. I see a similar player in Thornton. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him drop 15 pounds or so (if he signs with Penn State), and play defensive end, or even a stand-up end role, ala Jerome Hayes.

Ok, but what about Penn State? The Nittany Lions are directly battling Georgia and Auburn, with Miami hanging out in the wings somewhere. I wouldn't worry too much about the 'Canes, as Thornton hasn't scheduled a visit or showed any real interest besides not dropping them from his top four schools. Georgia and Auburn are different, but interesting cases. The Bulldogs just fired long-time defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, which could very well affect Thornton's decision to play between the hedges. Plus, a 7-5 season is not exactly something to thump your chest about. The Tigers, for some reason, have stuck two recruiters on Thornton. I'm not sure if that's just some weird thing Auburn is doing, or a sign of desperation to land him. We'll see. But right now, Penn State looks to be at the front of the line.

Visits: Lattimore will complete his schedule of visits this upcoming week, with Auburn... Penn State - 11/6/09 (complete); Georgia - 12/11/09 (complete); Auburn - 1/15/10 (scheduled)

Marcus Lattimore
Position: Running Back
High School: Duncan(SC)/Byrnes
Measurables: 6-0, 210 lbs

The Scoop... Lattimore is a consensus top-two back in this year's recruiting crop (No. 2 RB by Rivals/ESPN, No. 1 RB by Scout), who has been labeled a "big, bruising" back with very nice speed to boot. From clips and scouting reports, he reminds me of a young Pennsylvania high school football legend who signed with the Nittany Lions out of Parkland High School. I promise, though, that's all you will hear from me on Mr. Scott. The comparison is just, however. Lattimore's reputation as a power back only tells half the story, as he is much faster than most of the better Penn State backs in recent years. Rodney Kinlaw, and now Stephfon Green, are the only backs who I think could match Lattimore's burst.

Ok, but what about Penn State? If there was ever a more dramatic run-up to a commitment, I'd like to see it. Lattimore is--officially--down to four schools: Auburn, South Carolina, Oregon and Penn State. He's said numerous times that he is just as concerned about getting an education as playing football, and he does not mind at all leaving SEC country. This quote sums up everything Penn State fans need to know:
"Where I am from, I always hear, 'Be a Gamecock!' or 'Be a Tiger!' almost everywhere I go," Lattimore said. "I don't want people to be mad if I don't go where they want me to go, but I have to do what is best for me, my future and my education."
Lattimore seems like a kid who just wants to spread his wings and get the hell out of the South. But that is not much more comforting news to Nittany Lions fans, because that leaves his two top schools down to Penn State and Oregon. The Ducks are enjoying success directly rivaling Penn State. However, with Evan Royster's eligibility up next year, and his sure ascendancy to the NFL, Lattimore could very well get significant carries as a redshirt freshman opposite the out-going senior Green.

Visits: Lattimore will complete his schedule of visits this upcoming week, with South Carolina and Oregon... Penn State - 11/9/09 (complete); Auburn - 10/30/09 (complete); South Carolina - 1/15/10 (scheduled); Oregon - 1/22/10 (scheduled)

(Sorry this was posted so late today. Wednesday Recruitin' will be regularly posted early on Wednesdays, as the title would indicate)

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  1. i like the fact the recruit profiles don't include a star rating.

  2. I've made it a personal rule to avoid using the stars. They are just gimmicks that offer little to the actual discussion of college football recruiting.

  3. Mike, I'll keep that in mind the next time I put up my own recruiting post. Also, I hope the fact we turned away Coxson means we're landing Lattimore and Thornton, otherwise I'll be a very sad panda.