Penn State adds another Florida wideout, bringing 2019 recruiting class up to 23 members

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
  • Penn State's 2019 football recruiting class now stands at 23 members.
  • According to 247 Sports, the class is No. 13 nationally and No. 2 in the Big Ten.
  • Florida wideout T.J. Jones became the latest PSU recruit on Wednesday.
  • Tuesday, the Lions got a commitment from Daequan Hardy of Penn Hills.
Ja'Juan Seider

Add another Sunshine State commit to assistant coach Ja’Juan Seider’s tally.

T.J. Jones — a 6-foot, 1-inch three-star wide receiver from Lake City, Florida — chose Penn State on Wednesday morning, becoming the 23rd member of the Nittany Lions’ 2019 recruiting class.

According to 247 Sports, the Lions' class is ranked 13th nationally and second in the Big Ten, behind Michigan. The top five teams nationally, in order, are Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M and LSU. Michigan is No. 8. The only other Big Ten team in the top 20 is Ohio State at No. 15.

Jones is the second wide receiver to sign this cycle, joining fellow Florida native John Dunmore.

Seider and new wide receivers coach Gerad Parker led the recruitment of Jones, the No. 74-ranked wideout in the country, per 247 Sports. Seider — a Palm Beach County native and former Florida high school coach and Gators assistant — has cultivated a mini-pipeline from the Sunshine State to State College.

Since Seider arrived last January, the Nittany Lions have earned commitments from three Florida natives: Dunmore, Jones and 2020 prospect Derek Wingo. Four-star running back Noah Cain, a product of the IMG Academy (Bradenton), also signed with Penn State in December, and Seider recently visited with Miami grad transfer wide receiver Lawrence Cager.

Jones — who tallied 84 catches, 1,711 yards and 17 touchdowns in three years at Columbia High School — had offers from 38 schools, including Florida, Maryland, Miami, Mississippi State, Oregon and Pittsburgh. However, Jones’ decision came down to Penn State, Indiana and Texas A&M.

By going with the Nittany Lions, Jones joins an up-and-coming group of wide receivers. With DeAndre Thompkins graduating and Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk transferring, Penn State will feature redshirt sophomore KJ Hamler, redshirt freshman Justin Shorter, sophomore Jahan Dotson and redshirt sophomore Mac Hippenhammer — not to mention Dunmore and Jones — in 2019.

Hardy also commits: Daequan Hardy, a three-star cornerback from Penn Hills, announced that he received a scholarship offer from Penn State at noon Tuesday. Nine hours later, he became a Nittany Lion.

Talk about a quick turnaround.

Hardy joined Penn State’s top-tier 2019 recruiting class a day before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, becoming the Nittany Lions’ sixth defensive back this cycle.

Although he wasn’t heavily recruited in the Power 5 — in large part because he weighs in at 160 pounds — the nation’s No. 32 cornerback, according to 247 Sports, certainly boasts an impressive resume. Rivals even listed him as an athlete because he starred at wide receiver for Penn Hills, too.

He not only managed to become Pennsylvania’s Class 5-A Player of the Year, but he scored 25 touchdowns five different ways in 2018. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Hardy had 10 scoring plays of 50 yards or more, caught 37 passes, rushed for 373 yards and nabbed 10 interceptions. In Penn Hills’ state title win, he also tallied four touchdowns.

According to his 247 Sports page, Hardy received offers from 10 programs: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Buffalo, Toledo, Army, Navy, Bowling Green and Kent State. However, the Post-Gazette reported that the Wolverines and Spartans — who offered this time last year — have not been recruiting Hardy “for a while.”

“It’s just because of the measurables,” Hardy told the Post-Gazette in December. “I believe I’m a Power 5 conference player.”

Ex-PSU recruit who pleaded guilty to Wawa robbery, to play for Iowa State: Isheem Young, the former Imhotep Charter football star and Penn State recruit, signed a letter of intent with Iowa State on Wednesday, eight months after pleading guilty to participating in a robbery at a Philadelphia Wawa store.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Young was carrying a gun and took $13,600 from a south Philadelphia Wawa. Young committed to Penn State in July 2017, but the program rescinded the offer after Young was arrested.

Mark Wogenrich of the (Allentown) Morning Call contributed to this report.