STATE COLLEGE _ Tight end Adam Breneman tops the list of five new recruits who have signed early at Penn State as part of the school's first recruiting class since the program was sanctioned by the NCAA.
Breneman has remained vocal about sticking with the Nittany Lions since the NCAA penalties were announced in July for the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal. Breneman sat out his senior season at Cedar Cliff High in Camp Hill, Pa., with a right knee injury.
Tight end has turned into a strength in the year since Bill O'Brien took over as Penn State coach. Breneman could join breakout star Kyle Carter and Matt Lehman at the position in 2013.
O'Brien also announced Monday that backup tailback Curtis Dukes had left the team.
Dukes' departure was not surprising after the junior slipped down the depth chart behind sophomores Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton in 2012. The junior with the punishing 6-1, 245-pound frame played nine games and ran for 98 yards on 26 carries last year.
The Nittany Lions will also have Akeel Lynch, who redshirted last year as a freshman, in the mix at running back behind Zwinak, a 1,000-yard rusher.
O'Brien added running back Richy Anderson as an early enrollee, as well. Anderson's father is former Penn State and NFL fullback Richie Anderson.
Junior college quarterback transfer Tyler Ferguson also formally joined Penn State on Monday, the first day of the spring semester. Ferguson is expected to compete with returning backup Steven Bench for the starting job vacated by record-setting senior Matt McGloin.
The school is expected to also add quarterback prospect Christian Hackenberg, who, like Breneman, has been vocal about staying with Penn State. Hackenberg is expected to sign next month and join the team this summer.
The two other January enrollees are both defensive backs — Anthony Smith, of Randolph, N.J., and Jordan Smith, of Washington, D.C. They are unrelated.
The NCAA sanctions capped the number of recruits that Penn State can sign to 15 annually for the next four years starting with the 2013 class. Most teams can sign 25 in a year.
However, recruits who joined the team as early enrollees Monday officially count against the 2012 scholarship class — meaning the 2013 class could actually include up to 20 recruits.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.