Over the weekend, Penn State landed yet another highly-regarded recruit. Come Tuesday, the Nittany Lions are expected to welcome their highest-rated Class of 2015 prospect yet.
After much anticipation, James Franklin & Co. appear poised to make their first big recruiting splash into Pittsburgh.
Saturday, it was Potomac, Maryland, defensive lineman Jonathan Holland who became Penn State’s 13th 2015 verbal commitment. Tuesday, Baldwin High School offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins will make a verbal commitment to a college public via KDKA television. It is widely expected Jenkins will do so to Penn State.
Sportscaster Bob Pompeani will interview the 6-foot-8, 305-pound Jenkins at the high school mid-afternoon Tuesday, Highlanders coach Pete Wagner said. The private announcement – no school assembly, no pep rally, I’ve been told – will be taped and aired at 6:40 p.m. on the evening news. (The announcement will be made available via the KDKA website, per longtime KDKA producer Mike Vukovcan).
Jenkins isn’t making any official (well, as “official” as a nonbinding verbal commitment can be, anyway) public announcements until then. And his choice “officially” is between Penn State and Ohio State. However, it would be an absolute shock if he did not choose PSU. Barring something incredibly unforeseen over the final 24 hours, it’s expected Jenkins will become the Nittany Lions’ highest-rated of an already highly-rated 2015 incoming class (per ESPN).
Wagner reiterated again Monday – as he has before – that Penn State is a “clear-cut No. 1” for Jenkins, who is the No. 1 rated 2015 prospect in Pennsylvania and No. 6 offensive tackle in the country according to Rivals.com. ESPN rates Jenkins as the overall No. 65 prospect – regardless of position – nationally. For all of Franklin’s early recruiting successes – and they are many, judging by the No. 2 national class ranking Penn State holds behind Alabama in the Rivals, Scout and 247 rankings – Jenkins would be considered the top-ranked recruit of them all.
Jenkins repeatedly has posted pro-Penn State tweets to his Twitter account. Many, many of the major analysts who do this for a living have been saying for some time now that Jenkins has been all but a lock to pick Penn State. Jenkins wants to make a public announcement, so we’ll respect his wishes.
In addition to Ohio State, Rivals reports that other schools that have offered Jenkins a scholarship include Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Arizona, West Virginia and, yes, Pitt.
Jenkins traveled to Penn State on Monday with his father, stepmother, grandmother and youngest sister (in a text message, he said he “had a great time” in State College). Jenkins chose to make his announcement the day after this highly-anticipated family visit to Penn State.
“He just wanted to do a campus tour,” Wagner said. “It was an opportunity for everyone to see everything together, in terms of the academic offerings, the campus and hearing from some of the coaches.”
One of Franklin’s first stops upon accepting the PSU job in January was Pittsburgh – and visiting Baldwin to see Jenkins was a high priority on that visit. Cornerbacks coach Terry Smith (the former Gateway High School coach who also is the defensive recruiting coordinator at Penn State and whose state recruiting area responsibility includes Baldwin) has been active in recruiting Jenkins. The two have formed a good relationship. Offensive line coach Herb Hand and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (an Oakmont native) also have visited Baldwin over the past month.
Jenkins has visited Penn State at least five times, including for the Blue-White Game last month.
“It’s a pretty natural feel,” Wagner said of Jenkins’ relationship with the coaching staff.
Much has been made of Franklin’s oft-repeated proclamation to “dominate the state” in recruiting. So far, he and his staff have done that – nabbing each of the four highest-rated prospects from Pennsylvania who have committed to far. Not only would Jenkins give them the No. 1 overall prospect in PA – it would provide the first WPIAL recruit of Franklin’s tenure.
Jenkins and Central Valley defensive back Jordan Whitehead are the only known WPIAL 2015 prospects whom have scholarship offers from Penn State. Whitehead has said he plans on taking his time before making a decision.