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[Live Blog] National Signing Day 2019

Happy National Signing Day, Penn State!

James Franklin and his coaching staff officially welcomed 18 players to the team on the first signing day of the 2019 recruiting cycle, and they’ll round out Penn State’s incoming group of talent today. The Nittany Lions have a handful of other targets along with verbal commitments from three-star defensive prospects Smith Vilbert, Joseph Appiah Darkwa, and Daequan Hardy entering Wednesday.

We’ll update this page throughout the day as the remaining recruits on Franklin’s radar make their decisions official.

7:55 a.m. — Four-star offensive lineman Doug Nester, one of James Franklin’s top flip targets today, signed his letter of intent for Virginia Tech. The sixth-best guard prospect in the nation originally committed to Ohio State in August 2017.

Penn State pursued Nester quite aggressively over the past couple weeks. He officially visited Happy Valley on January 25, and wide receivers coach Gerad Parker, running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider, offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover visited him on January 31.

8:43 a.m. — Florida has pushed Penn State just outside the top 10 of 247Sports’ composite team rankings after flipping four-star defensive end Khris Bogle from Alabama. The Nittany Lions currently have the eleventh-best 2019 recruiting class, but a big day today could change that.

9:05 a.m. — Daequan Hardy officially signed his letter of intent not even 24 hours after he received an offer from Penn State and 12 hours after he verbally committed to the Nittany Lions. The undersized defensive back was excellent on both offense and defense in high school, so he’s definitely an intriguing prospect.

Hardy was dominant for Penn Hills in Pittsburgh last season. He scored 22 touchdowns as his team went 16-0 and won the PIAA Class 5A state championship. Penn State also took a chance on low-rated defensive back recruits Amani Oruwariye and Grant Haley in the past, and it’s safe to say both those players had solid careers in Happy Valley.

9:32 a.m. — Three-star defensive end Smith Vilbert put pen to paper on his letter of intent. Vilbert, the No. 14 player from New Jersey in the 2019 cycle, initially committed to Penn State on January 18.

Vilbert is one of the tallest players in Penn State’s recruiting class at 6’7″, and he had a strong high school career with St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, NJ. He recorded 45 tackles and 11 sacks in his senior year as his team won the NJSIAA Public Group 4 state championship.

10:07 a.m.Three-star wide receiver TJ Jones committed to Penn State in an announcement made at his high school in Lake City, FL. Jones is the 23rd member of Penn State’s 2019 recruiting class and the first new player to join the team today.

Jones is just the second wide receiver in the Nittany Lions’ recruiting class of 2019, joining John Dunmore. The position isn’t in desperate need of prospects this cycle, as players like KJ Hamler, Jahan Dotson, and Justin Shorter will return to the team next season.

The Nittany Lions’ 2019 recruiting class reclaimed its spot in the top 10 of 247Sports’ composite team rankings after Jones’ pledge.

11:11 a.m. — Willkommen zu Happy Valley, Joseph Appiah Darkwa! The German defensive tackle became the third unsigned commit to ink his national letter of intent on Wednesday morning.

Darkwa spent last season with Duesseldorf Panther U-19, and he committed to Penn State on February 1. The recently-created PPI recruiting service facilitated the 6’5″, 272-pound defensive tackle’s move to Happy Valley.

11:20 a.m. — TJ Jones has signed his national letter of intent, so all of Penn State’s previously-unsigned recruits are officially Nittany Lions now.

Jones, the No. 104 wide receiver prospect in the country, helped his high school team to a 10-2 record last season as he hauled in 42 receptions for 833 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Penn State initially offered Jones a scholarship in May 2018.

11:57 a.m. — Rivals recruiting analyst Adam Friedman reported four-star safety Nick Cross, one of the best unsigned players remaining and a Florida State commit, hasn’t made a decision on where he wants to sign his letter of intent and might not do so today.

Penn State made a big push for the safety late in the recruiting process. He’s rated by 247Sports as the No. 55 overall player in the class of 2019, and he took an official visit to Happy Valley on February 1. Penn State co-recruiting coordinator Terry Smith and safeties coach Tim Banks visited Cross on January 16.

The Nittany Lions are also waiting on announcements from offensive linemen Jaquaze Sorrells and Dawand Jones. Jones is expected to choose Ohio State, while South Carolina is most likely to receive Sorrells’ signature.

1:05 p.m. — Nick Cross is not expected to make a final decision and sign his letter of intent with any school today, according to 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong.

1:28 p.m. — Head coach James Franklin didn’t definitively say his work is done on the 2019 recruiting trail at his National Signing Day.

“It’s hard to say the 2019 class is ‘finished,'” Franklin said. “There are some guys who are obviously still deciding, but I’d say the majority of our class is pretty much done.”

In addition to Nick Cross, offensive linemen Jaquaze Sorrells and Dawand Jones have still not announced where they’ll begin their college football careers.

2:18 p.m. — As most experts anticipated, Jaquaze Sorrells announced his commitment to South Carolina ahead of Penn State.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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