Last updated: June 21. 2014 8:18PM - 2517 Views
By - dlevarse@civitasmedia.com



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It's recently been dubbed “The Lasch Bash.” A Saturday barbecue at the center of one Penn State's biggest recruiting weekends of the summer, with camps running all three days.
 
It has competition. It has cache. It even, apparently, has a pie-eating contest.
 
On Saturday, it added an important commitment to the list.
 
New Jersey linebacker Manny Bowen announced on his Twitter account Saturday evening that he gave a verbal commitment to coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lions while visiting Happy Valley for the event.
 
Bowen's commitment pushes Penn State's 2015 signing class up to 17 pledges, placing them fourth in the country and still first in the Big Ten in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
 
Though he replaces Josh Barajas — who switched his commitment to home-state Notre Dame recently — as a second linebacker in the class, the two have different skillsets.
 
Barajas was athletic but still projected as more of an inside linebacker, similar to Jake Cooper, another 2015 Lions pledge.
 
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Bowen is well known for his speed off the edge for Barnegat High School and could work as an outside linebacker or perhaps defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's “star” position.
 
Recruiting services are split so far on Bowen, who averages out to a three-star prospect in the 247 Composite, with Scout the most bullish, giving him a four-star rating.
More telling, perhaps, is his offer list.
 
His talents have earned him scholarship offers from across the country, including from powers Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin out of a list of 30-plus.
 
In Franklin's short time on the job, his new staff has done exceptionally well recruiting in New Jersey. Quarterback Brandon Wimbush, receiver Juwan Johnson, offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez and defensive back Myles Hartsfield.
 
Wimbush, Johnson, Gonzalez and Bowen are all ranked in the top six in the state at the moment.
 
Add that on to receiver Saeed Blacknall in the 2014 class, as well as the staff's ability to keep tight end Mike Gesicki in the fold, and the Lions are having success in the Garden State not seen since Fran Ganter was offensive coordinator and the point man for recruiting there.
 
As it happens, Penn State's new offensive coordinator is originally from New Jersey and has been involved in recruiting there for years.
 
If you have a free moment, here's our Sunday takeout feature on John Donovan. Many Penn State fans don't know much about him yet because he keeps a low profile on an otherwise bombastic coaching staff. But he'll be in the spotlight soon enough thanks to a job that's he thrilled to have.
 
Below is Penn State's updated recruiting map, which can be expanded by clicking on the full-screen icon in the upper right corner of the frame. Click on either of the other two categories in the box on the left side to reveal offers to see where Penn State is concentrating its recruiting efforts.
 
—derek
 


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