Chat with Josh Moyer
Welcome to NittanyNation! On Friday, reporter Josh Moyer stops by to chat about the state of Penn State football.
Moyer joined ESPN.com in 2012 after previously working for The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Send your questions now and join Moyer Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:00 PM)
Hey guys, thanks for joining us this week! Quite a bit of news the last seven days. Six new offers, a new commit, earlier B-W Game, etc. So lots to talk about! We'll get started in a minute.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:01 PM)
OK ... and we're off. Who's got the first question this week?
Will O'Brien's remaining 3 scholarships for 2014 class fill up prior to this football season beginning or do you see it dragging into the fall of this year? Do you see Alex Bookster and Thomas Holley leans toward PSU at this time?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:02 PM)
That's a good question, but I think the odds are it drags into the fall. Ricky Walker and Antoine White are both high on PSU, and it wouldn't surprise me too much if they committed before September -- but that's a best-case scenario. (PSU appears to be Walker's leader. However, Walker's in no rush right now, so that could take a little longer.) But the key with your question is Dravon Henry, who wants to take his time. PSU can't really pressure him to commit because PSU's not the leader and they think so highly of him. You can't successfully pressure someone when you're the clear runner-up. And I don't think either Bookser or Holley are leaning toward PSU ... but it's hard to say with Holley. I think, if he had to commit tomorrow, PSU would have as good a chance as anyone. But he'll probably be the last out of the three DTs to commit.
Jim (Blue Bell,PA)
Hi Josh. Any further news on where we stand with the DT's we offered? I heard Derrick Nnadi was supposedly making a visit, but he may not have showed and that it's possible Cory Johnson may not academically qualify. Is that true?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:04 PM)
Yup, both true. I said during our last chat that Johnson was a great athlete -- but with a few red flags. I don't think it was just academics, but that obviously played the biggest. It's a shame for both parties because I think Johnson would've picked PSU and he could've contributed immediately. And I never thought PSU really had a chance with Derrick Nnadi. It may be one of his top schools, but it's one of the distant runners-up.
Don (Fort Lauderdale)
Hi Josh - Love what you're doing with Nittany Nation - been a member for almost a year now! My question is about the recruiting philosophy... Not what kind of athletes BOB is recruiting but what kind of students they will become. Can you provide any insight there? Not looking to name names but more that we're living up to Joe's high standards. I've been watching recruiting interviews a lot lately (not just Penn State) and I find myself wondering if these kids would be getting into college at all if it weren't for sports. Or am I just getting old? I suppose street cred is more popular than communication skills.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:08 PM)
I don't think it's changed since Paterno's been here. If I recall correctly, Derrick Williams' SAT scores weren't exactly something to write home about either, but O'Brien's still finding high-quality kids. And the fact they were ... I think ... the only school to pass up on Cory Johnson because of his grades -- that says something. Sterling Jenkins told me earlier this week that he was really surprised when he visited PSU and just how well-spoken everybody was. He made a point of telling me that -- everybody, from the hostesses (Lion ambassadors) to the players and coaches, everyone seemed pretty smart. That stood out for Jenkins. And I know you said not to mention anybody, but there's been a few guys that have really impressed me. Andrew Nelson, for one. He wrote a column for us a few months ago on why he committed to PSU, and that was VERY well-written. I didn't really edit it at all. I suggest you Google it, or I'll try to find it here. I thought that showed a lot.
Anthony (Baltimore, Md)
Any update on how DeBerry felt about his visit? Does PSU have any kind of shot? It seems like this kid is visiting everywhere.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:11 PM)
I didn't get a chance to talk to DeBerry, but I think PSU has a shot here. I actually talked with him back when he was a freshman. I was doing a story about Hackenberg, so I polled opposing coaches and opposing players. He was one guy I talked with, and we chatted a bit about schools he liked. Even back then, he mentioned PSU as one school he wanted to see. I don't know where PSU stands now, to be honest, but I think it's a bit like Holley. He likes PSU -- but he's getting so much attention from so many other places, that it's going to be hard for awhile to predict where he'll end up.
Ed (white plains ny)
Out of the players we have offered scholarships to, who do you think are currently the most likely to commit to us?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:13 PM)
I was actually asked last week if PSU would take two DT commits and, at the time, I thought it was a possibility -- but I thought it was far from a lock. I still don't think it's a lock. But, since then, OSU offered Gesicki and PSU offered White. And, quite frankly, I think the answer is now Antoine White and Ricky Walker. (At some point, I'll accidentally call one of them Antoine Walker.) I think those are the two who are most likely to commit right now.
Scott (Media, PA)
Hey Josh, love the blog. Can you provide some more detail on the Mark Allen/Qadree Ollison situation? I know you mentioned that there will only be space for Ollison if Allen can't recover from his ACL tear. Is PSU looking for a way to push Allen to a different school. Can they, or would they even consider, just pulling his scholarship and giving it to Ollison? Thanks!
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:16 PM)
Yeah, I put this on Insider a week ago. But, basically, I'm told PSU will not be taking more than two running backs -- and Qadree Ollison is well-aware of that. The offer is basically non-committable and contingent on what happens with Mark Allen. I don't think they'd pull Allen's ship, but they really do like Ollison. If PSU had 25 scholarships, I think Ollison would be a Nittany Lion. But ... they don't. The only way I see Ollison coming to PSU is if Allen re-injures his ACL or can't recover.
Keith (Medfield ma)
I know you said we don't have a shot at bookser, he includes psu in his top 3. Do you still think psu has no shot at bookser?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:16 PM)
I still think PSU has no shot with Bookser. You never know what could happen in recruiting -- I've been wrong before -- but I still don't think PSU has a real shot here.
Mitch (Lancaster, PA)
Josh, everyone is aware that with 12 current 2014 commitments we only have 3 spots left. However, no one seems to be talking about the fact that Michael O'Connor plans to enroll early and would count against 2013. Is there any chance that could open up another spot for 2014, or does the 65 scholarship limit make it a moot point?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:18 PM)
Exactly right with the 65-scholarship limit. I'm told that 15 is the number (excluding Zayd) for this class, regardless of how many enroll early. That could change -- at one point, it was 13 -- but 15 is the number now.
Aaron (Burke, VA)
Any freshman either Scholly or Run-On coming in this summer really turn heads so far with their presence? Is Garth Likitsky on campus yet? Thanks!
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:19 PM)
It's only been a week and, since camp hasn't started, I really haven't heard. I will say that Parker Cothren told me right before he arrived on campus that he's up to about 281 pounds already. So that's definitely good news. Don't know about Garth Lakitsky either, but that's something I can look into.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:23 PM)
(EDIT: I see the question didn't post for some reason. The question was whether BOB was focusing on recruiting guys who have NFL players as fathers.) I think it's kind of a happy coincidence. O'Brien wants smart players who can pick up on systems quickly (Look at the antithesis of that, Curtis Dukes, for further evidence.) ... and it just so happens that those smart players come from NFL families. Take Troy Vincent Jr., for example. Last year was his first at Gilman and Gilman runs a relatively sophisticated defense. Guess who was calling plays for the secondary anyway? Yup, Vincent Jr. Did O'Brien offer Vincent Jr. because of his dad? No ... but did his dad help him have this great football IQ? Absolutely. So I think it kind of goes hand-in-hand.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:26 PM)
(EDIT: Question was asked about what I thought of Oregon's sanctions.) You're going to read a lot of columns about Oregon. A lot of journalists will chime in about their opinions. And there'll be plenty of talking heads saying stuff on TV about it. But, let me give you the Cliff's notes: The NCAA is a joke. That's the theme of nearly everything written about the Oregon sanctions. So what do I think? Logic is not a characteristic of the NCAA ...
Alex Bookser--interest level rising with PSU? Does PSU still have room?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:27 PM)
If Bookser would elect to head to PSU, I'd be surprised if PSU wouldn't take him. They'd probably go with him and one DT then.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:30 PM)
(EDIT: Question was who the team leaders are on offense and defense.) From what I've heard, John Urschel's really stepped up on offense. And Glenn Carson is the guy a lot of people are looking at on defense. I've been really impressed, too, by the change in Amos' demeanor. Maybe I'm reading too much into this -- guys can act differently around the media compared to their teammates -- but he was a really a soft-spoken, shy guy last season. The last time I saw him at a media function, he was this confident, gregarious, well-spoken guy. It was a big change. So maybe he's a player we see take a more vocal lead. We'll be able to get a better sense once camp starts up.
John (Portland, OR)
Is it safe to say the sanctions no longer impact the decisions of the prospects as of 2014?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:32 PM)
Yes and no. I think the impact of the sanctions has been very minimal. But I still think that that Sandusky cloud is hanging over PSU a bit. I've heard from three different PSU targets in the past two weeks that, at one of the camps in Chicago, a lot of recruits were bad-mouthing PSU about Sandusky-this and Sandusky-that. So that still exists. It's not like it's completely forgotten. But I think, overall, that's turned off very few PSU targets. Very few.
PSU making lots of headway with skill position players but I am concerned about the lack of offensive linemen. Depth is critical in the O - Line. Do you see an all out effort to sign some more linemen this year and next?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:35 PM)
Yeah, I'm right there with you about the O-line. I've been saying for some time that I think that could become the next position of concern -- but PSU's looking to nip that in the bud with the 2015 class. There's a better crop of linemen there, and PSU's already offered at least six guys there. I've talked to six of them, and they all have high interest in PSU. PSU appears to be the leader for at least two of them already. So, I think that concern you have will be short-lived. OL will be a point of emphasis in 2015.
Rob (Morristown, NJ)
Josh, non-recruiting question...I can only drive out to State College two of the three weekends in September for non-conference home games (let me correct that, I'm only willing to drive out for two of the three games) UCF is a lock, in your opinion, which second game should I come out for...Eastern Michigan or Kent State...I really cann't distinguish any good reason between the two but I need to make a decision and sell my other tickets...thanks for the help.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:37 PM)
I'd definitely head to Kent State over Eastern Michigan. It's not even close. Worst-case scenario (or is that a best-case scenario?), they're both 50-0 snoozers. But, with Kent State, you get to see Dri Aricher who'll definitely play in the NFL. If memory serves me correctly, Mel Kiper compared him to Darren Sproles ... and he AVERAGED 9 yards a carry last season. 9 yards! How crazy is that? Eastern Michigan, well, I don't know if there's a more irrelevant football program in the United States.
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:37 PM)
Seriously, though, I'm curious. Would anyone pick EMU over Kent State? I'd love hear why ...
Trevor (State College)
I would pick EMU over Kent state because you could sell the Kent State ticket for more money.
Is recruiting going to be impacted by BOB's contract amendments? Are future recruits concerned that BOB might bolt for the NFL?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:41 PM)
That's a good question. I don't think that's going to have an impact, though, until BOB starts talking with NFL teams again. If he goes on another interview after this season? Oh yeah, that'll have to impact recruiting, especially with how the buyout will be considerably less then. Until then, though, I don't think it'll be a big deal.
Hey Josh....What can you tell us about Vincent Jr.? How are we looking in terms of amount of scholarships left for 2014?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:44 PM)
He's a very smart player. His ability to adjust and read receivers is definitely his top strength. He's a quiet kid, a polite kid, and I think he's someone who's capable of contributing immediately for PSU. The place he trains at, Prime Xample, already has him playing zone, man, bump -- all that good stuff -- so he has a handle on everything. I don't think PSU will be able to surprise him too much when it comes to gametime. He's very polished, and I think PSU fans should be really happy with the pickup.
Rob (Rochester ,y)
do you think penn state could have one of the best secondary's in the B10 in 2-3 years with the athletes they are bringing in?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:47 PM)
Hmmm ... I'm not quite ready to say that, yet. To be honest, I haven't looked at all the other B1G teams' secondaries to be able to answer that intelligently. But I will say this about PSU's secondary: It's going to be much, much better than it was in past years. Justin King and Stephon Morris were speedy guys who didn't belong in zone coverage. They were man-to-man guys. In this defense, PSU is recruiting speed -- 2015 DB Kareem Ali Jr. just ran a laser-timed 4.39 at camp -- and that kind of aggressive, man-to-man defense is something PSU sorely needs. Will PSU be the best in the B1G in 2-3 years? I don't know. Will PSU have the best secondary it's had in the 2000s in three years? That's a possibility.
Zack (New Hampshire)
Alright Josh, there are three scholarships left and the remaining recruits that Penn State is after may be feeling some pressure to commit with the window closing. Do you think they are feeling that pressure at all? and who do you believe is the next commitment?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:50 PM)
I think there's some pressure there, absolutely. PSU lets these guys know that, hey, they don't have as many 'ships as other teams. The staff told both De'Andre Thompkins and Chris Godwin that they couldn't hold their spots forever ... and that seemed to work out OK in the end. If I'm PSU, I might even turn up the pressure a little bit more than that. The fact PSU has 12 commitments already really helps them. Those limited spots act as quite a bit of leverage. And I think there's a good chance White is the next commitment.
Jim (Happy Valley)
Do you think Antoine White will commit this weekend?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:53 PM)
Wow ... I'm surprised it's taken this long for somebody to ask this question haha. I actually talked to White for awhile last night and, yes, he's obviously high on PSU. It might even be the favorite already. But, he's only visited four schools so far and he has a few visits next month scheduled. (That's why he's going this weekend; it was the only time that would've worked.) This is the biggest decision he's made so far in his life, so he wants to go to other places to see how they compare to PSU. So, do I think he commits Saturday? No, I don't. DaeSean Hamilton and De'Andre Thompkins didn't think they would commit either and they did ... so you never know. But I don't think there's a high chance he commits. I would be surprised if that happened.
Rob (Morristown, NJ)
Speaking of Prime Xample, how soon before some clown in the media (sorry don't mean to insult your profession) decides that its a "recruiting factory" for PSU defensive backs because of the three current players and the fact that its run by a former defensive back (Stephon Morris') father if I recall correctly, and causes an NCAA investigation? Is this an area of concern for the BO'B staff that they have to walk a careful line on?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:56 PM)
How soon? Should be never ... There are high schools in Ohio that are basically just feeders to the OSU program. I don't see how this is any different. Actually, I do -- this is less severe than that. There's nothing wrong here, and I don't think BOB needs to tread carefully at all. I think Morris is kind of watching his words a little bit, but that's the extent of it. Nothing really to see here; don't think it's a big deal.
Ajay Devaraj (Lincoln, NE)
First of all I would like to thank you for doing a fabulous job in covering the Nittany Lions. Keep it up. I have two questions for you today. 1) I am hearing quite a lot off late that Zyad Issiah might land up at Penn State next year. How is that possible with only 3 remaining S'ships? Does he counts towards the 2013 class and has a s'ship been reserved for him? 2) Alex Bookser has named Penn State in his top 3 along with Pitt and OSU. What do think of our chances with him? Does Jamarco Jones pledge to OSU will help our case? and any timeline on his decision? Thanks
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:57 PM)
Good to hear -- thanks Ajay! And, since Issah is enrolling early, he'd count toward the 2013 class ... and PSU had already planned on having him anyway. He basically takes his own open spot so, yeah, it's just like you suspected. And, with your second question, I've been saying this since April -- but I do not see Alex Bookser heading to PSU. I know he has them third, and that's great for PSU, but there's still a lot of ground that needs to be made up there. Jamarco Jones may have committed -- but OSU's still looking for another tackle. So I don't think that affects him that much.
Aaron (Burke, VA)
Any possible position change surprises coming this summer?
Josh (NittanyNation) (1:59 PM)
I don't think so. I think spring is kind of the time to tinker with the positions. And as far as one of the biggest concerns (linebacker), O'Brien said he didn't plan on moving anyone else to that position.
What do you think of Jerome Baker (2015) Thanks
Josh (NittanyNation) (2:02 PM)
I think he's high on PSU's big board, and he's one heck of an athlete. O'Brien and London both said back in February that Ohio is a territory they want to start making a priority, and Baker is basically their top priority in Ohio. I was really surprised the last time I spoke with him because he told me how he grew up a Penn State fan in Ohio State country ... so PSU definitely has a shot here. He's getting a lot of attention, but he's a name that should be on PSU fans' radars for the next two seasons.
Josh (NittanyNation) (2:02 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time we have for this week. But thanks a lot for all the great questions. Have a good weekend!