Counter Intel: Penn State Recruiting Takes Off, Mel Tucker Lands His First Three Commitments, Purdue and Indiana Recruiting Picks Up Steam

By Mick Walker on April 12, 2020 at 7:15 am
Kalen and Kobe King

Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place at Big Ten and top national programs.

Penn State has a big two-day stretch

As we mentioned last week in Counter Intel, Penn State was trending for a handful of players. This past week, those players committed to James Franklin's program.

Four-star safety Jaylen Reed out of Martin Luther King (Mich.) High School got the ball rolling for the Nittany Lions when he committed Thursday evening. Having seen Reed in person at the Best of The Midwest Combine in February, this is very good get for Franklin. Reed has the ability to roam the back end of the defense and slide up into the slot to cover running backs and tight ends if need be. Seeing as Penn State and its defense has given Ohio State problems in the past, Reed will be a name to know for future scouting reports.

After stealing Reed from Michigan on Thursday, the Nittany Lions went back to the well on Friday when they landed twin brothers Kalen and Kobe King out of Cass Tech, also in Detroit. Kalen is a four-star cornerback prospect and Kobe is a three-star linebacker but both were top targets for the in-state Wolverines and Spartans. However, neither of the twins chose to stay home. Instead, they will head to Happy Valley to play for Franklin. Both of the King brothers were actually in Ohio Stadium last fall to see Ohio State beat Penn State.

They will both need to develop before playing seeing the field in college, but they both fall into the same vein as Reed.

Even after landing the King twins, Penn State wasn't done on Friday, as it landed four-star athlete Zakee Wheatly out of Archbishop Spalding (Md.) High School. It is unclear as to what position Wheatly might play at Penn State, but nonetheless they are getting a big, talented athlete. Even after landing all four of these players, Penn State's class only ranks sixth in the Big Ten according to 247Sports. But it is very impressive for them to go into Detroit and take Michigan targets.

Tucker lands his first three commitments

After less than two months as the head man in East Lansing, Mel Tucker has landed his first three commitments in the 2021 recruiting class.

Tuesday evening, unranked running back Davion Primm out of Oak Park (Mich.) High School became the Spartans' first commitment. The Spartans offered Primm Monday night, and he committed less than 24 hours later.

This follows a similar approach that we have talked about when discussing what Greg Schiano is doing at Rutgers, in which he has targeted his own state to build a fence around. Schiano has done this by landing seven New Jersey prospects in the 2021 cycle, and it appears that Tucker is taking a similar approach in the state of Michigan.

(As an aside, on Friday night, Schiano landed another commitment, this one from three-star Akron receiver Brayden Fox, whose father, Derek Fox, had been recruited by Schiano to play at Penn State in the mid-90s.)

Tucker's second commitment in the 2021 class was even more local than Primm, as it came from three-star offensive tackle Ethan Boyd from East Lansing High School which is less than three miles away from Michigan State's campus.

Tucker's third commitment came on Saturday afternoon, as three-star Miami safety Gabe Nealy of Gulliver Prep (Fla.) High School pledged himself to the Spartans.

The three commitments give Michigan State the 13th-ranked class in the Big Ten, but it will likely continue to climb as Tucker's staff builds recruiting ties.

So long as Michigan State continues to recruit its own state, it will likely find a good amount of success. With Primm and Boyd in the class, it seems that Tucker is putting an emphasis on running the ball in the Big Ten moving forward.

Purdue has a hot streak

After going a little less than a month without landing a commitment, Purdue picked up two in the past week. The first came on Wednesday as three-star linebacker Tristan Cox pledged his services to Jeff Brohm and Co.

Purdue has shown the ability to recruit all over the Midwest under Brohm, and it looks like the 2021 class is no different.

Purdue's second commitment of this past week came on Friday when it dipped into Ohio State's backyard and got three-star athlete Bryon Threats out of Dublin Coffman High School. Threats is a player that we saw live last fall when his Dublin Coffman team took on Jack Sawyer's Pickerington North Panthers.

Threats is an impressive athlete despite his smaller statue, and he has the ability to play on either side of the ball, though he will likely start out as a running back in West Lafayette. 

Indiana maintains its momentum

Last week, we talked about the Indiana Hoosiers landing two in-state studs, and this week they land two more players with one hailing from the state of Florida. However, Indiana's first commitment of the week came last Monday from unranked offensive guard Vinny Fiacable out of Fort Wayne, Ind. The Hoosiers were Fiacable's biggest offer, and when a player's home-state school comes calling, it can be hard to turn down.

The Hoosiers' second commitment of the week came on Friday when they dipped down into the Sunshine State and stole three-star safety, Larry Smith, out of Orange Park, Fla. The Hoosiers have shown the ability to recruit Florida in recent years, and their effort in Florida will likely only increase as former IMG Academy head coach Kevin Wright became the tight ends coach at Indiana this offseason. 

Minnesota lands a national four-star recruit

We talked about it last week, but under PJ Fleck, Minnesota has proven to recruit all areas of the country, and they showed that this week.

Fleck and Co. went into Arizona and beat multiple West Coast schools for four-star cornerback Steven Ortiz out of Desert Edge High School in Goodyear, Ariz.

Ortiz is a big talent for Minnesota, but more importantly, it shows once again that the Gophers can recruit just about anywhere in the country, along with being Midwest-focused. Fleck is building a power at Minnesota, and Ortiz is a piece of that puzzle.

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