There’s still seven weeks left in this Penn State’s recruiting season.
But there’s only two open spots remaining.
So who figures to fill them?
Who, at least, are the primary candidates?
Even the recruiting experts who study this stuff and who talk to the recruits are struggling with how this will play out.
For example, the lowest-hanging fruit appears to be Georgia defensive back Deondre Singleton (6-foot, 175 pounds), a fairly lightly-recruited player with competing offers from Duke, Appalachian State and Marshall.
Though Penn State is his biggest pursuer, he’s telling analysts that he still wants to take more visits before deciding.
“I still believe he ends up here after all is said and done,” said Greg Pickel, who covers Penn State recruiting for Scout.com.
The other top candidates for those final two spots appear to be a mix of longer-range, higher-echelon types.
Start with how the Lions recently landed receiver DaeSean Hamilton, who seemed to be headed toward Virginia Tech or Virginia. The key, especially during NCAA sanctions and reduced scholarships, is that he also can play defensive back and return kicks.
“He’s a terrific athlete,” said Mike Farrell of Rivals.com. “That’s the type of guy you need. When scholarships start to dwindle you need guys who can play multiple positions and fill many holes. Over the next two to three years you may see a couple of two-way players and Hamilton could be that type of guy.”
Hamilton’s pickup could cause the Lions to cool on Harrisburg receiver Brian Lemelle. They may not want yet another receiver in their final two picks — unless it is Clairton standout Tyler Boyd, who can also star on defense.
Three Penn State coaches were in Hershey last weekend watching Boyd win another state title.
However, most recruiting experts figure he is headed to Pitt.
“Boy, I love him. He’s amazing. If they’d get him it’s a home run,” Farrell said of Boyd.
“Penn State is more attractive than Pitt in many ways: fans, tradition, offense. The problem is those sanctions. That’s what’s causing a little bit of a hold up. Now, you can come in and redshirt and miss only two bowl games. But it’s still two bowl games.
“Everybody is waiting to see. (Penn State) did it this year with a senior-laden class. As depth falls apart, how will Penn State do? That’s the wait-and-see approach from the Tyler Boyds.”
Other final Penn State targets include Philadelphia tailback David Williams and Georgia linebacker Trey Johnson. Both are upper-tier, four-star recruits who said they may visit Penn State next month before deciding.
But, once again, experts project both to end up elsewhere on signing day.
Williams, once a hot Lions prospect, backed off after the NCAA sanctions in the summer. Johnson developed a recruiting relationship with Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof when he was at Auburn but now seems to be leaning toward Ohio State.
The intriguing — and newest target — is yet another linebacker, Illinois product and Wisconsin Badgers verbal commit Garret Dooley.
Because he’s not as highly-rated as Johnson, the late offer re-affirms Penn State’s somewhat surprising effort to land a fourth linebacker in this class.
At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Dooley was a heavy blitzer in high school with “really quick footwork,” Pickel said.