With signing day less than a month away, James Franklin is one of the 128 FBS head coaches who are urgently working to patch up their 2017 recruiting classes.
Penn State’s haul this cycle already features headlining players like Lamont Wade (early enrollee), Sean Clifford, and Fred Hansard. Yet, with the pens not officially hitting the letters of intent for most recruits until February, Franklin and the Nittany Lions are trying to make sure nothing unpredictable can negatively impact this year’s class. Defensive back prospect Derek Pitts Jr., already decommitted this season, while Hansard decided to flip from Florida to the Nittany Lions.
There are definitely a few players that could change their commitment that fans and coaches alike have their eyes on. It also isn’t too early to rule out a few last-second flipped commits into this year’s highly-touted class. Here are a few recruits that fans need to pay attention to in the closing weeks.
Mac Hippenhammer | Wide receiver
The three-star wide receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind., committed to the Nittany Lions back in August. However, his home-state power/dream school have finally come calling: Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish had their eyes on a few other wideouts for this year’s class, but some prospects fell through, forcing them to boost their pursuit of the 6-foot, 170-pound receiver less than a month before Signing Day. Hippenhammer did visit the Irish back in September, and is definitely a player that could quietly slip through the cracks and end up in South Bend next fall.
Nathan Proctor | Outside linebacker
The four-star defensive stud announced his intentions to play for Virginia Tech at the Under Armour All-America Game over the holidays. However, many who have watched his recruitment closely believe that Proctor would leave the Hokies if there’s enough scholarship wiggle room in Happy Valley. With Chris Godwin and Garrett Sickels declaring early for the NFL Draft, James Franklin could give Proctor something to think about. It appears he’ll still make his scheduled trip to Penn State for its big official visit weekend of Jan. 20-22. All the commits who haven’t already officially visited will be on-hand as well.
Tariq Castro-Fields | Safety
Castro-Fields is the least likely of this trio to end up in the blue and white next year, as 247Sports has him as an 83 percent Crystal Ball prediction to become a Terrapin instead. A four-star who ranks as one of the top ten players in the state of Maryland, Castro-Fields still has Penn State among his top three schools, and may welcome the opportunity to lineup alongside a special talent like Wade in the secondary. He hails from the same high school (Riverdale Baptist) in Upper Marlboro, Md., as rising redshirt freshman corner Zech McPhearson.
It’ll be a mad dash to the finish on Wednesday, Feb. 1, but the Nittany Lions don’t have much room left in their 2017 recruiting class before National Signing Day. Even so, things could get interesting down the stretch.