With the majority of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class on campus for official visits this weekend, it was an uncommitted prospect who was front and center in plenty of pictures on social media.
One-time Nittany Lions verbal commitment Micah Parsons — the nation’s No. 4 overall recruit — got the sell-job from coach James Franklin, his staff, his players and a group of high school seniors set to join Penn State as soon as next week.
When the group took a photo on campus at the school’s Nittany Lions Shrine on Saturday, Parsons was right in the middle, sitting on top of the statue. Franklin was right next to him with his hand on his shoulder.
“Man what a weekend,” Parsons wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Thank you Penn State!”
The Harrisburg High School star will announce his decision on Dec. 20, the first day of college football’s new early signing period. Should he sign with Penn State, it will bring a long and convoluted recruitment full circle, as Parsons had initially committed to Penn State as a sophomore, reopened the process as a junior and will now make a final decision as a senior.
If he does pick Penn State, Parsons would become the third five-star recruit in the 2018 class, joining New Jersey wideout Justin Shorter (No. 15 overall) and Virginia running back Ricky Slade (No. 24). They are the highest-rated prospects in their respective states.
Parsons checks in No. 1 in Pennsylvania as the country’s top weak-side defensive end in the 247Sports Composite rankings, though he has said in recent interviews that Penn State has also talked to him about playing linebacker, a position of great need for the Lions.
For now, Penn State owns the No. 5 recruiting class nationally with 20 verbal commitments. Fourteen of them were in Happy Valley on their official visits along with Parsons — OL Nana Asiedu, DL Judge Culpepper, OL Bryce Effner, TE Pat Freiermuth, WR Daniel George, DL Aeneas Hawkins, LB Charlie Katshir, TE Zack Kuntz, QB Will Levis, LB Jesse Luketa, PK Jake Pinegar, Shorter, Slade and LB Nick Tarburton.
“Amazing official visit weekend. Jan. 5th can’t come soon enough,” wrote Luketa, who is intending to graduate from Mercyhurst Prep in Erie a semester early to enroll at Penn State next month.
Also in attendance over the weekend were two more top Penn State targets who remain undecided in Ohio defensive lineman Tyreke Smith and Maryland offensive lineman Rasheed Walker.
While a majority of recruits are expected to sign on Dec. 20, they are also free to wait and come aboard in the first week of February, the usual window for finalizing college decisions.
Though the Lions have had the majority of their class wrapped up for months, it has been an eventful two weeks, as they have lost a pair of four-star commitments in Philadelphia safety Isheem Young and Michigan offensive lineman Antwan Reed.
Young was recently charged for his alleged role in an armed robbery of a convenience store back in July. Reed announced his decommitment earlier this week, though he is not yet pegged for another school.
That opened up some scholarships for the Lions, as did the impending transfers of running back Andre Robinson and kicker Jake Barbir.
As it is, Penn State is hoping this weekend solidified its 2018 class, and perhaps expanded it.
“Can’t wait to spend the next 4 years of my life with my brothers,” Effner wrote.