Big Ten: Dorian Johnson

Video: Penn State losing recruits

August, 8, 2012
ESPN RecruitingNation's Jared Shanker breaks down the status of Penn State's recruiting class after the loss of two players Tuesday, including highly touted four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson.
Michigan's 2013 recruiting class is rated No. 1 nationally by several scouting services, including ESPN Recruiting. Urban Meyer is piecing together another high-quality class at Ohio State.

But the most surprising recruiting story in the Big Ten right now? Penn State, hands down.

Given all the transition and turmoil in State College, Bill O'Brien and his staff really have it going on the recruiting trail. Penn State landed its big prize in February when quarterback Christian Hackenberg gave his pledge to O'Brien. ESPN Recruiting rates Hackenberg as the nation's No. 1 quarterback and No. 10 overall player. He's the highest-rated recruit in the Big Ten right now.

But Hackenberg is just one of several high-profile commits in Penn State's class, which places No. 13 nationally in the latest national rankings, a jump of two spots from No. 15. These rankings came out before Penn State landed its latest recruit, linebacker Zayd Issah, who gave his pledge on Friday. Issah is a three-star prospect from Harrisburg, Pa.

Penn State is up to 14 commits for 2013, including four ESPN 150 prospects, the third-highest total in the Big Ten behind Michigan (11) and Ohio State (6). The Lions have landed six commits in June, a month that saw the Jerry Sandusky trial come and go, and cast the university in a negative light. Dorian Johnson, the nation's No. 2 offensive lineman, committed on Sunday.

O'Brien and his staff have focused their recruiting on Pennsylvania and the surrounding states -- Ohio, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. All but one commit hails from those states, although Penn State also plucked safety Neiko Robinson from Florida.

Although Penn State landed some heralded classes during the latter part of Joe Paterno's tenure -- 2010 and 2005 come to mind -- there was a sense the team could take a step back during the transition. O'Brien's early efforts will fuel the belief that Penn State had been underachieving on the recruiting trail under the previous staff.

While part of O'Brien's recruiting success can be attributed to him being the new face of the program -- a face coming straight from the NFL -- the fact that he continues to pile up recruits at a time when Penn State remains in the news for negative reasons has to encourage Nittany Nation.
Another June weekend is in the books, which means it's time for another recruiting roundup. As camps take place around the league, several players joined the commitment lists for the 2013 classes.

Let's take a quick look at what has happened since Friday:
  • Penn State didn't have a recruiting spree like several Big Ten teams, but the Lions picked up by far the most decorated prospect of the weekend in offensive tackle Dorian Johnson from Belle Vernon, Pa. ESPN Recruiting rates the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Johnson as the nation's No. 26 overall prospect and No. 2 offensive tackle. He has received offers from Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others. Penn State now has two of the top three rated commits in the Big Ten -- quarterback Christian Hackenberg is the other. Given all the turmoil outside the program right now, it's incredible how successful new coach Bill O'Brien has been in adding high-quality recruits for his first full class.
  • Accelerated recruiting has become the national norm rather than the exception, but Iowa is on a record-setting pace for early commits. The Hawkeyes stand at 15 commits for 2013, the second highest in the Big Ten behind national leader Michigan (22). Iowa has secured six commitments since late last week, adding linebacker Trevon Young, defensive back Solomon Warfield, offensive lineman Sean Welch and three athletes -- Ike Boettger, Andre Harris and Derrick Mitchell Jr. The Hawkeyes landed three commits alone on Sunday, including Warfield, who had received several Big Ten offers. The commitments of Mitchell and Harris continue Iowa's success in the St. Louis area, where the Hawkeyes plucked players like Adrian Clayborn and Marvin McNutt. You have to wonder how much of the early success is due to the new, younger faces head coach Kirk Ferentz added to his staff during the offseason.
  • After scrambling to sign a class in February, new Illinois coach Tim Beckman is flexing his recruiting muscle so far for 2013. Illinois secured three commitments during the weekend -- athletes Darius Mosely and Caleb Day, and defensive tackle Bryce Douglas -- to bring its total to 13, the third highest in the Big Ten behind only Michigan and Iowa. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Mosely is Illinois' highest-rated recruit, according to ESPN Recruiting, earning a grade of 82. Beckman also is shoring up the interior defensive line with four defensive tackle prospects so far in the class.
  • Michigan State added a player with a familiar surname to its 2013 class as tight end Dylan Chmura pledged to play for the Spartans. Chmura, son of former NFL star tight end Mark Chmura, stood out during Michigan State's camp on Saturday. The Waukesha, Wis., product hadn't received an offer from Wisconsin but had planned to attend a Badgers camp later this month. Michigan State has eight commits for 2013.
  • After being stuck on one commit for several months, Minnesota picked up three more last week, including quarterback Chris Streveler from Woodstock, Ill., who made his pledge Friday night after attending a Gophers camp the weekend before. Streveler likely will be the only quarterback in Minnesota's class as the Gophers signed Philip Nelson in February and Max Shortell in 2011.
  • Although Hunter Niswander has a wide receiver's frame (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), he'll be doing the kicking and/or punting for Northwestern in future years after committing to the Wildcats on Friday night. Niswander received a scholarship offer from Northwestern, which has extended several to specialists in recent years after struggling in the kicking game for a stretch of seasons. Niswander's punting stood out during a recent camp at Northwestern, but he could handle both punting and place-kicking duties for the Wildcats.
  • Purdue picked up its third commitment for 2013 when athlete David Yancey made his decision Saturday. Yancey played quarterback in high school but is pegged as a running back for the Boilers, who loaded up on quarterback in their most recent class. Yancey has three older brothers who went to Purdue.