Jordan Smith commits to Penn State, call it his ‘dream school’

Washington, D.C. product Jordan Smith announced his commitment to Penn State Saturday.

Smith, a cornerback from Woodson High, said he committed to Penn State on July 24 but waited until last weekend to make his announcement.

The 5-10, 185-pounder becomes the first recruit to verbally commit to the Nittany Lions since they were hit with the devastating NCAA penalties in July.

“It’s just something I’ve grown up on when I was playing in the backyard,” Smith told Rivals.com. “I envisioned myself at Penn State and it’s an opportunity I want to take full advantage of.

“I like the idea of Penn State, the education, a degree from there speaks volumes in the job market,” he said. “The coaching staff is outstanding and Penn State is my dream school.”

Smith is a two-star prospect according to Rivals and plays in the secondary – a place the Lions definitely need more numbers.

He also had scholarship offers from FBS schools such as Colorado, Kansas and Hawaii.

Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson was the main recruiter of Smith. Johnson has long had success recruiting the Maryland and D.C area for the Nittany Lions.

As a junior last season, Smith had 64 tackles, including four sacks. He also had two interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown.

Smith indicated that he would enroll at Penn State in January.

For more information on Eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

New temporary PSU transfer rules go overboard

by Marty Valania

Has anybody actually read what opposing schools are allowed to do to current Penn State football players right now? And does anybody think this is a good idea?

Look, I have absolutely no qualms with any Penn State football player that wants to transfer. I have absolutely no problem with the NCAA easing restrictions on Penn State football players transferring. They should be able to leave and be able to play right away. It makes perfect sense.

In addition, I have no qualms with many of the penalties that the NCAA levied against Penn State. This one part of the transfer rule, however, makes no sense to me.

Here are the “new” rules in black and white.

“The NCAA recognizes that current football student-athletes will be negatively impacted by the Penn State sanctions,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for Academic and Membership Affairs. “We want to allow those eligible student-athletes as much flexibility as possible while still being mindful of some of the transfer safeguards our membership has put in place.”

Okay. That sounds good to me.

What doesn’t make sense is that every college in the country can now recruit Penn State football players – EVEN IF THEY HAVEN’T EXPRESSED ANY INTEREST IN LEAVING.  The suspension of contact rule has been suspended. That is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Phones started ringing Monday morning – just after Mark Emmert got done speaking.

We’ve all heard the rumors. Silas Redd to USC being the chief among them. But I also saw that one SEC coach offered three Penn State players scholarships before noon on Monday. ACC schools, UConn, Rutgers, Tennessee, Ohio State, the list of vultures goes on and on.

Granted, the NCAA wants to punish Penn State football into submission. That much is clear. But allowing this is the absolute most hypocritical thing they can do.

As I stated earlier, if a player wants to transfer he should be able to contact any school in the country. He should be able to pick where he wants to go and go there and play immediately.

But allowing other schools to contact them minutes after they just heard about these unprecedented sanctions is callous and a terrible precedent to set. These players have had their lives turned upside down and now you’re letting the recruiting sharks at them without having the opportunity to even digest the situation. It’s just plain horrible.

In addition, they are allowing schools to exceed their scholarship limits to accept Penn State players. Really? I’m not making this stuff up. This is how the NCAA thinks is a good way to change the football culture – by allowing coaches to attack other rosters and exceed their scholarship limits. At any other time these are all violations.

Does anybody really think that this is “being mindful of the transfer safeguards the membership has put in place?”

Does Penn State need to be penalized? Absolutely. Do the players need to be penalized any more than they already have been? Absolutely not.

Does this rule somehow benefit the victims? If so, fail to see how.

I understand punitive penalties. I don’t understand overturning fundamental rules that have been safeguards forever.

To learn more about eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

NCAA sanction announcement could cause havoc on PSU’s 2013 class

If you think recruiting is a crazy business with lots of upheaval, just wait until NCAA President Mark Emmert announces his sanctions against Penn State.

The announcement is set for 9 a.m. Eastern Monday morning and is expected to include a $30-$60 million fine, a multiple year bowl ban and “crippling” scholarship losses.

Despite the Sandusky scandal, Coach Bill O’Brien and his staff have pieced together a highly ranked recruiting class – ranked in the top 15 of services such as Rivals.com, 247Sports, Scout.com and ESPN. The class has been led by stalwarts Adam Breneman and Christian Hackenberg and those two have rallied many other high school stars into the Penn State 2013 recruiting class.

Even after the Freeh report was released two weeks ago, all of the recruits have been steadfast in their commitments to PSU.

That changed over the weekend as New Jersey defensive tackle flipped from Penn State to North Carolina. Others have noted that they might look around or “keep their options open.”

Other recruits are just plain sick and angry about being asked about their commitments every hour of the day. Here’s what four-star defensive end from New Jersey Garrett Sickels had to say on Twitter.

That’s probably good advice but not how the media or social media world works these days and speculation is officially rampant.

In addition to Hackenberg, Breneman and Sickels, Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class as of today includes Brandon Bell, Zach Bradshaw, Curtis Cothran, Ross Douglas, William Fuller, Zayd Issah, Dorian Johnson, Brendon Mahon, Andrew Nelson, and Neiko Robinson.

All of them are three and four-star recruits. All of them would be desired by other schools.

In addition, social media has been full of posts talking about college coaches getting ready to pick the Penn State roster like vultures.

Recruiting is a crazy business that is getting crazier all the time. Depending on what Emmert says tomorrow, we may be on the verge of the craziest recruiting story we’ve ever seen.

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Hackenberg, Olsen and Cockerille ready for Elite 11

Christian Hackenberg will compete in the Elite 11 finals in California.

Three of the nation’s top quarterback prospects are from the Mid-Atlantic region and all three will be at the national Elite 11 finals camp starting July 18 in Redondo Beach, Cal.

Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union, Va. and Penn State), Wayne Olsen (Wayne, N.J. and Miami) and Shane Cockerille (Baltimore and Maryland) will be competing with 22 other high school quarterbacks. All but one of the 25 has committed to a big-time college program The event, run by ESPN and coached by some recognizable names such as head coach Trent Dilfer, will be televised on ESPN.

The 25 participants won their way there by winning a regional competition or were selected because of their high performance (although not necessarily winning) at those regional competitions.

Regionals were held in Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Columbus, Oakland and Las Vegas. The competition at regionals consisted of quarterbacks throwing routes to receivers and accuracy competitions. The finals are a lot more intense with more drills and playbook knowledge coming into play.

Hackenberg is 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds from Fork Union, Va. and has committed to Penn State. He is the number one rated quarterback by ESPN while also being ranked highly by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. Hackenberg is a pro style passer that runs a 4.8 40-yard dash.

He finished second in the Las Vegas regional and was the awarded the first wild card berth into the finals.

The playbook study is one of the biggest differences between Elite 11 and other camps as Hackenberg noted in an interview last month in which he had his Elite 11 playbook in hand.

“I just got the playbook and it’s not easy,” Hackenberg said at the time. “But that’s the biggest thing I have to do to get ready. I have to learn the playbook.”

He has also affirmed his commitment to Penn State to several outlets despite the media frenzy in wake of the Freeh report. He says he is looking forward to playing for new coach Bill O’Brien.

“There’s a new energy with the program,” said Hackenberg, who was born in Tamaqua, Pa. and grew up in northeastern Pennsylvania before moving to Virginia. “Coach O’Brien has brought that and he’s the biggest reason I’m going to Penn State.”

Olsen is a 6-2, 195 pounder that is headed to Miami. He is ranked as the seventh top quarterback prospect by ESPN but the fifth overall QB prospect by 247Sports and the first overall in the state of New Jersey. Olsen, whose brother played tight end at Miami, had offers from 19 schools total including the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Florida, Florida State and Wisconsin to name a few.

Olsen won the New York regional to earn is spot in the national finals.

Committed to Maryland, Cockerille is the 21st ranked quarterback by ESPN. He is 6-2, 207 and runs a 4.9 40. Cockerille also had scholarship offers from Michigan, Virginia, Navy and Temple.

The future Terrapin competed in the New York regional and reached the final six of the competition. He was awarded a wild card entry into the finals.

Other quarterbacks attending will be Max Browne (USC), Shane Morris (Michigan), Cooper Bateman (Alabama), Cody Thomas (Oklahoma), Tyrone Swoopes (Texas), Brice Ramsey (Georgia), Malik Zaire (Notre Dame), Troy Williams (Washington), J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Asiantii Woulard (South Florida), Riley Ferguson (Tennessee), Jared Goff (Cal), Anthony Jennings (LSU), Johnny Stanton (Nebraska), Austin Allen (Arkansas), Davis Webb (Texas Tech), Zack Greenlee (undecided), DeVante Kincaid (Ole Miss), Joshua Dobbs (Arizona State), Luke Del Rio (Oklahoma State), Danny Etling (Purdue) and Zach Allen (Syracuse).

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Maryland Crab Bowl to hold evaluation camps

The Maryland Crab Bowl will be holding four tryout and evaluation camps for players in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 classes. The game is only for 2013 players but the sophomores and juniors to be are eligible to come to the camps for evaluation.

Top performers at the camp may have the opportunity to play in the 2012 Maryland Crab Bowl. The Maryland Crab Bowl is put on by the Maryland Football Foundation and  is a all-star game for seniors. The game is in its fifth year of existence. and is Maryland’s only statewide high school all-star football game.

This is the first year that the camp is open to underclassmen. While they will not be able to participate in the game, they will be eligible for the Maryland Football Foundation’s All-State Camp team and be invited to the banquet that kicks off game week in December.

The Maryland Crab Bowl Evaluation Camps will provide four opportunities throughout the state in an effort to make it convenient for all players to attend.  All camps will start at 6 pm and end around 8:30 pm.  Registration will start at 5 pm. Links are below.

West Camp – July 23rd Linganore HS, 12013 Old Annapolis Rd, Frederick, MD 21701

http://2012crabbowlwest-eorg.eventbrite.com/

North Camp – July 24th Franklin HS, 12000 Reisterstown Rd, Reisterstown, MD 21136

http://2012northcrabbowl-eorg.eventbrite.com/

East Camp – July 25th Cambridge-South Dorchester HS, 2475 Cambridge Bypass, Cambridge, MD 21613

http://2012crabbowleast-eorg.eventbrite.com/

South Camp – July 31st Riverdale Baptist, 1133 Largo Rd, Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

http://2012crabbowlsouth-eorg.eventbrite.com/

The cost for each camp is $40.00.  Walk-ups are $50.00

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Chesapeake Bowl North team tryout camp’s top players compete for spots

A steady five-hour rain held down attendance at the Chesapeake Bowl’s North team tryout camp Saturday at Cardinal O’Hara High in Springfield, Pa. but there was still a strong contingent of Division I prospects on hand.

The Chesapeake Bowl, run by the Mid-Atlantic Football Foundation, is in its third season and will be played Sunday, Dec. 30 in Prince Georges County, Md.

The majority of the top performers at the camp appear headed for the upper crust of FCS schools. Here’s a look at the top players on the day.

The team will be picked from the tryout camps as well as from a pool of other top players in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

CURTIS COTHRAN – 2013 class – Council Rock North (Pa.) Defensive End (committed to Penn State)

Cothran, a three-star prospect by all the recruiting services, has already committed to Penn State and remained solid with that commitment Saturday. He was easily the best player in the camp. He has great footwork, good speed and strength. He was clearly a notch above the other lineman. At 6-4, 235 pounds, he has a large frame that can hold more bulk and weight.

JORDYN BENNETT – 2013 class – Glen Mills (Pa.) Garnet Valley High – Running Back/Cornerback

Bennett is a two-star recruit out of Garnet Valley High. He is a 5-10, 160 pounder with 4.4 speed, that is one of the leading rushers in southeastern Pa. His speed is clearly his biggest asset and most coveted by FCS and FBS schools alike. They also would like to see him play cornerback, a position he hasn’t had a lot of time at so far. He is working on his defensive skills this summer and hopes to make an impact on that side of the ball in the fall. He is an outstanding student and has Ivy interest as well.

WESLEY HILLS – 2013 class – Wildwood (N.J.) Linebacker/Running Back

Hills could be a real sleeper and a great get for some FBS school. He’s a linebacker and running back at Wildwood but look for him to emerge as a safety at the next level. At 6-2, 195 pounds, he showed he could run with anybody. He also showed a willingness to play anywhere the coaches wanted. He said CAA schools like Old Dominion and Towson have showed interest as well as Bucknell and even Boston College.

MILEAK FORD – 2013 class – Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway High Tight End/Linebacker

Ford is a 6-3, 215-pound tight end/linebacker who will most likely be targeted for the offensive side of the ball at the next level. He has soft hands, runs great routes and a solid body. On a high school team filled with prospects, Ford is probably overlooked a little bit. An excellent student with a great attitude, look for CAA, Patriot and Ivy schools to come knocking.

TODD JETER – 2013 class – Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway High – Cornerback

Jeter is a 6-0, 170 pound defensive back that has FBS corner skills. He is physical enough to play press coverage and has great closing speed. He appears to be headed the JUCO route but don’t be surprised if he turns up at a FBS or an upper crust FCS school in two years.

XAVIER WILSON – 2013 class – Cinnaminson (N.J.) – Defensive End

Wilson is a 6-3, 250 pounder that plays both defensive end and tight end in high school. He will definitely be looked at more as a defensive end at the next level. He is quick off the ball with good feet and strength. He could make an impact on the FCS level.

RONALD WOMACK – 2013 class – Philadelphia West Catholic High – Wide Receiver

Womack, a 5-11, 180-pounder, was the top receiver in the camp. He has good speed and good hands. His routes were also strong. In addition, he has enough upper body strength to get off the ball and be physical when needed. Like many others at the tryout, he could be a help to a good FCS program.

RYAN AMMERMANN – 2013 class – Malvern Prep (Pa.) Wide Receiver/Safety

Ammermann is 6-2, 205 pounds and plays both wide receiver and safety. He played as a junior as wide receiver but not on the defensive side of the ball. It appears, though, as those his skills may have him  playing safety at the next level. Ammermann is quick with good hands and strong. He was very competitive throughout the day. Once colleges get tape of him at safety expect interest to increase. Currently, he is being looked at by CAA and Patriot League schools.

JOSEPH BARRETT – 2013 class – Malvern Prep (Pa.) Linebacker

At 6-1, 220 Barrett plays offensive line and defensive end at Malvern Prep. Look for him to be looked at as an outside linebacker at the next level. He has good strength and speed and a quick first step. Currently he is being looked at by Ivy League and CAA schools.

 

 

Chesapeake Bowl North team tryouts July 14 at Cardinal O’Hara

Tryouts for the Chesapeake Bowl North team selection camp will be Saturday, July 14 at Cardinal O’Hara High in Springfield, Pa. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration is $85 and begins at 9 a.m. at the school. Click here to register online. According to the Chesapeake Bowl website, the players at the camp will be coached by former NFL and college players, college coaches and top area high school coaches.

In addition, recruiting analysts from Rivals and other recruiting services will be on hand.

The Chesapeake Bowl is put on by the Mid-Atlantic Football Foundation and the tryout camp is sponsored by Rivals.com.

The game is the premiere event of the Mid Atlantic Football Foundation.  It is a senior only all-star football game with players from the North (New Jersey,PennsylvaniaandDelaware) competing against players from the South (Maryland,WashingtonD.C., Virginia andWest Virginia).

This year will mark the third Chesapeake Bowl. In the first two years, the event has had 170 players that received Division I scholarships and 150 that have been ranked by recruiting services.

This year’s selection camp is open to underclassmen (class of 2014 and 2015).  These players will have an opportunity to be evaluated by Rivals.com for early exposure and recognition in the 2014 and 2015 classes.  They will also be able to receive an early invitation to next year’s Chesapeake Bowl Selection Camp.

This year’s North squad will be coached by Jeff Weachter of Bishop McDevitt High.

Cardinal O’Hara’s street address is 1701 Sproul Road, Springfield, PA 19064.

For more information on eastern football recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

 

Eastern Christian’s Rodgers picks USC over Auburn

According to Rivals.com, Khaliel Rodgers, of Eastern Christian Academy, has given his verbal commitment to the University of Southern California.

Rodgers, a unanimous four-star recruit in the scouting services, was listed as the 64th overall best recruit in the country, according to Rivals.

The former Red Lion Christian Academy offensive lineman is a standout guard, who is 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. He had offers from 15 schools and was leaning toward Auburn until he was recently offered by USC.

“USC has a lot of advantages,” said Rodgers’ coach Dwayne Thomas, who knows that two of his other players – Kenny Bigelow and David Sills will be attending the school. “They’re in Los Angeles.There is no NFL team. They have a great fan base. They have great academics. It’s just a great school.”

Bigelow, a 6-3, 295-pound, five-star defensive end, is ranked as the sixth overall recruit in the country by Rivals. Sills is a 2015 quarterback prospect that has already committed as well.

Bigelow and Rodgers are close and when Thomas was visiting USC recently he had a conversation with USC coach Lane Kiffin about the situation.

Kiffin just wanted to be sure that Bigelow was secure and asked Thomas if Rodgers were to pick Auburn was there any chance that Bigelow would flip. Thomas told him that if Rodgers gets an offer from USC, then there was a better chance of Bigelow flipping Rodgers.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.

Rodgers, on Wednesday, decided to join his high school teammates in Los Angeles.

For more information on eastern recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

USC, Auburn battle over four-star offensive guard

by Marty Valania

Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton Md.) coach Dwayne Thomas was recently talking with USC coach Lane Kiffin about two of Thomas’ players – but it wasn’t about USC commits Kenny Bigelow and David Sills. Instead conversation was about Bigelow and Khaliel Rodgers, who is undecided.

Bigelow appears to be a secure USC verbal but Kiffin just wanted to be sure and asked Thomas if Rodgers were to pick Auburn was there any chance that Bigelow would flip. Thomas told him that if Rodgers gets an offer from USC, then there was a better chance of Bigelow flipping Rodgers.

Bigelow, a 6-3, 295-pound, five-star defensive end, is ranked as the sixth overall recruit in the country by Rivals and is very tight with Rodgers. Rodgers, a 6-3, 300-pound, four-star offensive guard has offers from 15 schools including Auburn, Boston College, Connecticut, Hawaii, Houston, Iowa, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple, UCLA, West Virginia, Western Kentucky – and now USC.

Rodgers, who Thomas feels very strongly will play in the NFL one day, still has not made any verbal commitment. He did, however, note on his Twitter account that USC had offered.

“USC has a lot of advantages,” said Thomas, who knows that both Bigelow and Sills (2015 QB prospect) will be attending the school. “They’re in Los Angeles.There is no NFL team. They have a great fan base. They have great academics. It’s just a great school.”

Thomas knows what he’s talking about when it comes to recruiting. He was on the recruiting trails for many years as an assistant coach at Tennessee State. He also has 20 players on his current roster that have scholarship offers.

Auburn, though, has its own connections with Jahmere Irvin-Sills, also from Eastern Christian Academy, already having verballed to Auburn.

Irvin-Sills, is a 5-10, 175 pound, three-star cornerback, who verbally committed to Auburn last month.

It will be interesting to see which school Rodgers ends up choosing, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if he joins high school teammates somewhere.

For more information about eastern recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

Opinion: Are camps and 7-on-7 tournaments good for the players?

By Marty Valania

The Opening just ended and certainly provided a ton of fodder for recruitniks all over the country this past weekend.

The Opening is where 150 of the nation’s top prospects were flown to Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. to compete against each other in combine-like agility drills and 7-on-7 team competitions. The four-day event was managed by Nike and ESPN and provided ESPNU with several hours of programming Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

From a viewer’s standpoint, I’m not sure it made for great television. But it was interesting to see some of the names we’ve been reading about for the last year. Whether it was actually good TV or not is just one of the arguments that came out of the weekend.

The debates ranged from who was the best quarterback of the weekend (it seemed that USC commit Max Browne won the majority of praise from the multitude of recruiting analysts that also attended) to who will have the best class by the end of the recruiting season to whether these types of event were worthwhile at all.

I read numerous posts that essentially said that these types of events mean nothing as compared to real high school football games played in pads. And while I agree that these events certainly shouldn’t be evaluated the same as real high school football games, I do think there is value to them.

You name the event – from The Opening, Elite 11 and the Rivals100 Challenge to more local and regional events like the Elite 25 Showcase in Lancaster last month – and it provides competition and the ability to see top players together. No, it’s not the same as seeing them play in a game. However, it does provide an avenue to evaluate.

Some people are upset that some of these camps charge players to attend. Some are upset that 7-on-7 tournaments are turning into something akin to the AAU basketball circuit.

Both are concerns.

To those, however, I say, yes, those are concerns and these events should be monitored so they don’t get out of hand. But these events also bring opportunity.

For example, there are tryouts Saturday for the Chesapeake Bowl North team. The tryouts are sponsored by Rivals and it seems that Rivals will have analysts there to evaluate players.

Some are upset that the players have to pay to attend the tryouts and think that the people that select the teams already have the best players in mind. In essence, they think this is just a way to get money.

Let’s just say that a player who would typically not get chosen for the game (if there was just a selection committee and no tryout opportunity) goes to this tryout and shines. He has a great tryout and this leads him to being written up by national recruiting analysts and chosen for the game.

More importantly than being chosen for the game, his name gets out there and maybe it leads to the opportunity to be scouted this fall in real games. How he does there will determine if he gets the opportunity for a scholarship – but that possibility may have stemmed from his tryout.

Maybe this won’t be the outcome for the majority of players that attend the tryout or a 7-on-7 tournament. But it is a possibility.

And if you’re a player that thinks he’s good enough, all you want is chance. Events like these may give that chance that might not otherwise come. Certainly there are concerns to be wary of and parents and coaches should do their due diligence on an event before sending their players there. And, let’s face it, the players still have to back it up with great play during the season – but it’s an opportunity.

I’m all for giving players as many opportunities as possible. Camps, showecases and 7-on 7s provide just that. It’s then up to the player to take advantage of those opportunities.

For more information on eastern recruiting, follow @EastRecruiting on Twitter or email marty.valania@easternfootballrecruiting.com.

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