Penn State coaches got a recruiting Christmas gift on Tuesday, but they’ll have to wait until next December to unwrap it.
After all of the usual gifts were opened, junior Florida linebacker Derek Wingo gave a verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions at noon, announcing his pledge on Twitter.
“I feel this is the best opportunity and choice for me and my family,” Wingo wrote. “I would like to announce my commitment to Penn State University.”
Wingo is not a member of the current 2019 recruiting class that will have a second signing period in February as he has another year of high school and the earliest he would be able to sign is next December.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder becomes the second member of Penn State’s 2020 class, joining Michigan offensive lineman Grant Toutant.
A four-star recruit in the 247Sports Composite rankings, Wingo checks in as the nation’s No. 10 outside linebacker in his class and just inside the top 200 overall for the country.
Part of Florida push: The early commitment for Wingo continues Penn State’s push to have a stronger foothold in Florida, an effort spearheaded by running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider.
Lions coach James Franklin had previously made some inroads into the state from his time in the SEC. While at Penn State, his staff had success in the Tampa area with the likes of Amani Oruwariye and, more recently, Judge Culpepper and Jordan Miner.
But with Seider nearing the end of his first full year on staff, Penn State is now winning some recruiting battles in south Florida, a talent-rich region in which the Lions have historically had little pull.
Wingo hails from the Fort Lauderdale area, as does four-star wide receiver John Dunmore, who officially signed with Penn State last week, holding off a late charge from Miami.
Dunmore is a former seven-on-seven teammate of Wingo’s, according to 247Sports with Wingo playing his high school ball at the prestigious St. Thomas Aquinas program. Earlier this month, Wingo helped his team reach the Class 7A state title game, recording eight tackles and a forced fumble in a loss.
Last week, Seider also helped land running back Noah Cain, a Louisiana and Texas transplant who was playing his senior season at Florida football factory IMG Academy.
Wingo had just completed the trifecta of major scholarship offers in the Sunshine State on Sunday when Florida State offered, joining Miami and Florida.
His athleticism has earned him attention from the biggest names in college football, landing him offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon and Texas among others.
As with Dunmore, the distance means the Lions will likely have to fight to keep him in the fold for a full year.
Lions in Fleming's top 10: Much closer to home, Penn State made the top 10 for the nation’s top-rated junior wide receiver on Tuesday as Southern Columbia star Julian Fleming shared his list on Twitter a moment after Wingo committed.
Fleming’s top 10 is a who’s who of the sport — Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Virginia Tech.
With Fleming leading the way, Southern recently won its second straight PIAA Class 2A championship. The Composite ranks the 6-foot-2 junior as the best receiver in the 2020 cycle, the best player in Pennsylvania and the fifth best prospect in the entire country.
Fleming was a fixture at Penn State home games this past fall and has already made several trips to campus.