Penn State had offered Rasheed Walker a scholarship 20 months ago. What was another hour to wait on his college decision?
The winter storm that hit the region Wednesday was enough for Penn State to cancel classes, as well as its scheduled signing day festivities. Down in southern Maryland, it put schools on delay, pushing back Walker’s announcement at North Point High School.
With three hats on the table in front of him, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive tackle put on the Penn State one, choosing the Nittany Lions over Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
Lions coach James Franklin is scheduled to discuss the class later on Wednesday afternoon.
Walker was the Lions’ lone addition to the 2018 recruiting class on signing day, closing it out at 23 players. The four-star tackle helped the Lions hold onto a top-five ranking in the 247Sports Composite at No. 4 — their highest finish since the turn of the century. The other 22 recruits all came aboard in the new early signing period in December.
Arizona wide receiver Solomon Enis, son of former Penn State running back Curtis, elected to stay out West and signed with Utah, choosing the Utes over the Lions, USC and Arizona State.
Walker was the top target left on Penn State’s board as the country’s No. 65 overall prospect and sixth-ranked tackle, according to the Composite.
His addition gives the Lions six recruits ranked in the top 100, with Walker rated below only a trio of five-star recruits in Harrisburg linebacker/defensive end Micah Parsons (No. 5), New Jersey receiver Justin Shorter (No. 8) and Virginia running back Ricky Slade (No. 27).
Along with Virginia’s Nana Asiedu, Penn State managed to sign two of the country’s top-10 tackle prospects. Securing Walker also meant a major head-to-head recruiting win against Ohio State, who finished atop the Big Ten with the country’s No. 2 class, behind only Georgia.
The Buckeyes certainly gave Walker something to think about as coach Urban Meyer and Franklin both made their final pitches last week.
“I’m proud he’s been able to keep his head,” North Point coach Tom Petre said of Walker during a live stream of the signing event. “He’s communicated well throughout this process. He’s been very well prepared.”
It was the second straight signing day that saw Penn State get a boost from a blue-chip recruit from Maryland. Last February it was cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields who picked the Lions at the last minute, and he quickly became one of just three players from the 2017 class to play as a true freshman.
Back in December, Franklin wasn’t exactly subtle after the Lions announced their first 21 signings, noting loudly, “We still have a major need at defensive end. We still have a need at offensive tackle.”
The former came just two days later when New Jersey pass rusher Jayson Oweh signed in secret on the final day of the early window, keeping it under wraps until the Under Armour All-American Game a few weeks later.
Walker is the Lions’ fourth offensive lineman in the class along with Asiedu, Erie’s Juice Scruggs and Illinois’ Bryce Effner.
“Final piece to the BEST OL class in the nation!” Penn State offensive line coach Matt Limegrover wrote on Twitter.
Penn State’s lone unsigned verbal commitment, Harrisburg athlete Shaquon Anderson-Butts, ended up landing at one of the country’s top junior college programs in Iowa Western.
Though he didn’t end up as part of the class, Anderson-Butts still gave the Lions a boost, helping to recruit Parsons, his Harrisburg High School teammate, to circle back and sign with the Lions after decommitting last spring.
Parsons, who was one of six members of the 2018 class to graduate early and enroll at Penn State last month, is hopeful Anderson-Butts will be able to rejoin him down the road.
“In the end I’m proud of you bro!” Parsons wrote on Twitter. “Minor setback for a major comeback! We going to waiting for you in the valley! Love is never lost.”
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse