*I know this isn’t the Yankees blog, so excuse the featured photo above. It’s just the most appropriate one I could think of for this particular story…
On Thursday, I published a column talking about the impending verbal commitment of offensive lineman Diego Pounds, a standout from North Carolina who seemed at the time like a virtual lock to announce he’d be heading to Penn State this afternoon. Basically, the column indicated what seems obvious enough to anyone who follows Penn State’s recruiting: The Nittany Lions needed some positive mojo with prospects heading into the homestretch, and Pounds was most likely to provide that initial boost.
Not sure what this says for Penn State, really.
Like I said, Pounds seemed like a Penn State lock for a long time during his commitment, and something clearly changed late. That something, for sure, was North Carolina getting very active in the process. The Tar Heels are his home-state school, and to be frank, it would seem difficult at a time like this — when you can’t exactly visit all the college campuses you’d love to see — to encourage a kid to go too far from home, to somewhere completely foreign, if there’s another option.
But here were are, at the end of September (typically a really important time in the recruiting cycle for Penn State), talking about a three-star prospect flipping the script on Penn State, and that says as much as anything.
In a class that was going to be somewhat on the larger side, the Nittany Lions are stuck at 13 committed prospects right now. They’re in desperate need of momentum right now, but they don’t have it and, as troubling, they aren’t getting it even when it seems like it’s within the staff’s grasp.
These things always seem to have a way of working themselves out. I’m sure Penn State will get a perfectly good replacement for Pounds, and they’ll round out the 2021 class as best they can. But perception is probably 70 percent of recruiting, if not more. Perception, right now, is that prospects Penn State wants are looking away from Happy Valley.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT