Penn State lands two more recruits to cap off stellar Lasch Bash weekend

(Wilkes-Barre) Times-Leader (TNS)
  • Penn State picked up five football recruits over the weekend.
  • Maryland wide receiver Daniel George is a four-star recruit and the No. 1 receiver in Maryland.
  • Iowa kicker Jake Pinegar is ranked No. 13 nationally at his position.

Penn State has had plenty of productive recruiting weekends in the past. They just don’t usually bear fruit this quickly.

Certainly not five commitments in around 50 hours.

Penn State head coach James Franklin landed five verbal commitments over the weekend.

But that’s what the Nittany Lions pulled off at this year’s annual Lasch Bash event — which features camps, tours around campus and town, and a large family barbecue in the middle.

After landing one verbal commitment on Friday and two more on Saturday, Penn State made it five total recruiting wins on Sunday when Maryland wide receiver Daniel George and Iowa kicker Jake Pinegar joined the Lions’ 2018 class.

They join Florida defensive lineman Judge Culpepper, Connecticut quarterback Will Levis and Harrisburg athlete Shaquon Anderson-Butts, who came on board earlier in the weekend.

The haul grew the group to 19 players and has lifted the Lions to No. 3 nationally in the 247Sports Composite team rankings behind only Miami and Ohio State.

Another weapon at wideout: Out of the new recruits, George is the highest-rated, a four-star prospect who checks in as the No. 1 receiver in Maryland and the state’s No. 8 overall prospect.

Penn State has been recruiting George heavily for the past three years, first getting him on campus for a visit during the winter of his freshman year at Oxon Hill High School.

It finally paid off on Sunday.

George has grown into a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder — and one of the top receivers in the country.

As a junior in 2016, one-third of his receptions went for touchdowns (15 out of 45) as he finished with 873 yards in 12 games. He flashed some breakaway speed on several of those scores.

George earned scholarship offers throughout the ACC and Big Ten, ultimately picking the Lions over Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Maryland.

He joins New Jersey’s Justin Shorter — rated by some services as the nation’s top receiver — in the Lions’ wideout class for 2018. Anderson-Butts also plays wideout in high school.

More than just a kicker: Penn State’s Big Ten championship season was saved at one point because of the athleticism of its punter.

Trailing in the second half of its showdown with Ohio State, a snap sailed over the head of Blake Gillikin and bounced into the Nittany Lions’ end zone. The true freshman won a race with Buckeyes wide receiver Terry McLaurin and dove on the ball for a safety.

Instead of an Ohio State touchdown to make it 26-7, it stayed a two-score game at 21-7. The Lions, of course, won 24-21.

For coach James Franklin and his staff, recruiting specialists means looking for athletes who can also boot the ball. And the Lions appear to have found another one in the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Pinegar.

A district MVP as a defensive back and a wide receiver, Pinegar is also an accomplished kicker, ranking No. 13 nationally by Kohl’s Professional Camps.

As the Kohl’s coach’s scouting report noted, “He is one of the best athletes in the 2018 class. He has explosive hips and fast leg. He charted well by making nine field goals and also averaged 71.75 yards per kickoff.”

As a junior at Ankeny Centennial High School, Pinegar came up with five interceptions when he wasn’t showing off his leg strength.

Pinegar will be arriving at Penn State just as reliable starter Tyler Davis will be exiting. He would be in line to battle another scholarship kicker in Alex Barbir, who signed in the 2016 class and redshirted last season.

Barbir has dealt with injuries during his first year on campus. Kickoff specialist Joey Julius, a walk-on, has been with the team sporadically during the past two offseasons.

Penn State typically budgets three scholarships for specialists, though they used four in 2016 on departed long snapper Ty Yazujian, Davis, Barbir and Gillikin.