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Illinois at Penn State recruiting wrap

September 29, 2008 - Philip Cmor

The Illinois showcase was just as big a recruiting weekend as it was expected to be. Almost all of the players already committed to the Nittany Lions were there, as were a number of the top uncommitted players at whom they're involved.

Although it hasn't been publicly confirmed yet, it appears the Lions did land one verbal. It wasn't Devon Smith, the player a lot were anticipating, though. Word had been trickling out that New Jersey linebacker Glenn Carson has decided to become the 17th player in Penn State's class.

Carson is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound run-stuffer from Southern Regional High School. If you've every talked to me in person about recruiting, you know I am not big on the star system as much as what other teams have offered a kid a scholarship, and Carson has some pretty good offers ... Notre Dame, Rutgers, Boston College, Pitt, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Stanford, etc.

The word is that Carson will be granting interviews later today to clarify his status.

There was a lot of other big news that came out of the weekend. The thing that seems to have most Lion fans stoked other than Carson's probably commitment is the updated situations surrounding Travis Hawkins, Jason Ankrah and Antone Exum.

Hawkins, the blue-chip cornerback/wide receiver from Gaithersburg, Md., Quince Orchard, basically had dropped Penn State a couple of weeks ago after having them as one of his leaders in May. Things got ironed out when he came up for an unofficial visit Saturday, and Penn State is once again near the top of his list. Maryland might still be his leader, and Michigan and Oregon are in the mix, too, but it looks like he'll be back in University Park for the Michigan game with Ankrah, his Quince Orchard teammate.

Going by words, action and rumor, it'd be surprising if Ankrah doesn't end up a Lion. A defensive end, Ankrah already reportedly tried to commit once, only to be told to hold off by the coaching staff. At that point, he dropped Penn State but came out of this visit telling recruiting writers Penn State was once again his leader. The love seems to be more mutual now; I think this gets done Michigan weekend.

Exum has apparently elevated Penn State into his top two with Virginia Tech. He is a slash-type player from Glen Allen, Va., Deep Run that Penn State was recruiting at quarterback but who many feel will end up a receiver or defensive back as well as a return specialist.

Smith did not commit as many thought he might during his visit, but the odds seem good Penn State will get a pledge from the 5-7, 140-pound Waldorf, Md., Westlake waterbug in a couple of weeks. He is taking a visit to Temple, then announcing a decision.

In addition to all the prospects listed in my last blog that were expected to attend, there were a couple of others that showed up. One of them was Brooklyn Xaverian lineman Oday Aboushi.

Aboushi is enormous (6-6, 305) and his showing on the camp circuit has listing him among the top 20 offensive tackles in the country. A lot of top colleges, including Penn State, still seem to be evaluating him, although he does hold offers from Iowa, Rutgers, Maryland and Virginia.

Two other surprise visitors were the Greensboro, N.C., Northen Guilford tandem of Chris McCain and Keenan Allen. McCain is a 6-6, 210 senior defensive end. Allen (6-2, 200), whose father is from State College, might be one of the top athlete prospects in the junior class and is already being pursued by a host of programs across the country, including Alabama.

Speaking of underclassmen, there was a very large contingent of juniors from Youngstown Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney. That group included Mooney quarterback Alex Zordich, brother of Lion lienbacker Michael Zordich and son of former PSU and NFL safety Mike Zordich.

There were a few notable absences from the Illinois sideline. Top-10 linebacker prospect Jelani Jenkins didn't make it up, although there was no confirmation that he'd be on hand, and Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown stayed home because of the weather. Both are expected to attend the Michigan game, though.

The one already-committed player who figured to be there but wasn't was Derrick Thomas. That raised a few eyebrows, because there have been rumors recently that Thomas might be wavering, and Maryland -- which his parents like -- is making a strong push for him. Thomas's friends Smith and Stephen Morris both were on hand.

It might not be something with which to be concerned as a Penn State fan, but it is worth watching.


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