Varsity Notebook: Nittany Lions recruiting class gets high grades

Pitt, WVU classes also strong

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Penn State lost a top recruit last weekend when star defensive end Dominique Easley backed out of his verbal commitment and decided he would attend Florida.

But even without Easley, Penn State's recruiting class is receiving high marks nationally.

Penn State's recruiting class is ranked No. 5 in the country by three national scouting services -- rivals.com, scout.com and ESPNU. It might be considered surprising that Penn State could do so well in recruiting because Joe Paterno never goes on the road to recruit any more. His assistant coaches are being credited with being the good recruiters.

Penn State is close to done with recruiting. The Nittany Lions have 19 recruits, and 13 of them have four-star ratings by rivals.com (five-star is the highest).

The first day a high school senior can sign a binding letter of intent is Feb. 3. Here is a quick look at the recruiting classes so far of Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia.

Pitt -- The Panthers are close to being done with recruiting. They have 24 recruits, if you count former Beaver Falls standout Todd Thomas, who attended a prep school and says he is coming to Pitt.

It seems there are some differing opinions on Pitt's class so far. Scout.com ranks it No. 12 in the country, but rivals.com has it 27th. ESPNU doesn't have Pitt's class in the top 20.

Many consider Pitt's top recruit to be defensive end T.J. Clemmings of Paterson, N.J. Bryan Murphy is another talented defensive end recruit from New Jersey.

Pitt also has a commitment from Cleveland quarterback Mark Myers, whose stock rose considerably in his only season as a starter.

Counting Thomas, Pitt has six recruits from the WPIAL.

Penn State -- The Nittany Lions have 19 recruits and five of them will play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl tomorrow in San Antonio (live on NBC television).

Penn State isn't done recruiting yet. One of the star players still considering Penn State is running back Marcus Lattimore of Duncan, S.C. He is ranked the No. 2 running back in the country by rivals.com and has narrowed his list to South Carolina, Auburn and Penn State. He will not make a decision until Feb. 2 and it will be tough for Penn State to get him away from South Carolina.

Star defensive lineman Shariff Floyd of Philadelphia was considering Penn State at one time, but is not any longer. Floyd, one of the top defensive linemen in the country, will announce his choice tomorrow during the All-American Bowl and the finalists are Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina.

Penn State has five recruits from the WPIAL. Some of Penn State's top recruits outside the state are linebacker Khairi Fortt (Conn.), receiver Adrian Coxson (Maryland), running back Silas Redd (Conn.) and quarterback Robert Bolden (Mich.).

West Virginia -- The Mountaineers have 20 recruits so far and their class is rated No. 23 in the country by rivals.com and No. 25 by scout.com.

West Virginia has two four-star recruits from Virginia -- receiver Deon Long and offensive lineman Quinton Spain. Barry Brunetti is a highly touted dual-threat quarterback from Memphis.

West Virginia is still in the running for two standout receivers from Florida -- Ace Sanders of Bradenton and Michaelee Harris of Miami.

Jones off to college

Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones is one of three WPIAL players who will participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl tomorrow in San Antonio. The other two WPIAL players are Canon-McMillan linebacker Mike Hull and Penn Hills defensive back Cullen Christian.

When Jones gets back from the game Sunday, he will immediately head to Penn State to begin college. Jones, a Penn State recruit, graduated early from Sto-Rox High School and has enrolled at Penn State for the spring semester. He will participate in spring drills and said he has been told by Penn State's coaches that he will be given an opportunity to battle for the starting quarterback position next season.

Penn State starting quarterback Daryll Clark has used up his eligibility and the ranks behind him were thin.

"I can compete for the starting job. I think it's a realistic goal," Jones said.

Jones also said "about 10" of Penn State's recruits have graduated high school early and enrolled at the university for the spring semester.

"I'm not really nervous about coming to college," Jones said. "At first, I was. I'll be 17 years old and in college. That's going to be crazy. But I'm fine with it."

Jones won't turn 18 until May.

Brown quits

A bizarre sports parent story has come to an end and one of the top girls' basketball players in the WPIAL is done playing this season.

Gateway's Destiny Brown, one of the best sophomore guards in the state, has quit the team for good. Brown had not played since the second game of the season because her father wouldn't let her. Marc Brown, who has been banned from some Gateway games in the past because of his behavior, would not permit his daughter to play because he didn't like some e-mails sent from a Gateway assistant coach to his daughter.

Marc Brown pulled his daughter off the team, and Gateway coach Cornelious Nesbit and athletic director Terry Smith had given Brown a deadline of Jan. 1 to return to the team.

"She handed in her uniform. She will not play this year," Smith said.

Brown (5 feet 10) averaged 20 points a game as a freshman and some high-level Division I colleges were showing interest in her.

The assistant coach who sent the e-mails was a female, but Marc Brown said the e-mails were not sexual in nature and not grounds for any legal action.

Check this out

• The Pennsylvania Football News selected Clairton linebacker Eddie Ball as the Class A defensive player of the year in Pennsylvania. Greensburg Central Catholic defensive lineman Pat Mahoney was selected the Class AA defensive player of the year.

Dennis Logan, a cross-country and track runner at Baldwin, has accepted a scholarship to Bucknell.

• Hopewell's Rushel Shell has quit the school's basketball team. Shell, a sophomore and standout football player, was a starter for the Vikings. He said he quit because of disagreements with coach Ron Rowan.


Mike White can be reached at mwhite@post-gazette.com


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