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Jan. 13, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the start of the spring semester on Monday, Penn State head football coach James Franklin welcomed five new student-athletes, who are enrolled in classes and eligible to participate in spring practice.
The list includes four high school standouts who graduated early to enroll at Penn State and one junior-college signee. The Nittany Lions welcomed one quarterback, one offensive lineman, one wide receiver and a pair defensive lineman for the start of the spring semester.
The January signees are: defensive tackle Tarow Barney (Gainesville, Fla.), quarterback Michael O'Connor (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins (Hubert, N.C.), offensive tackle Chasz Wright (Woodbridge, Va.) and defensive tackle Antoine White (Millville, N.J.).
The five signees will join the returning Nittany Lions on campus for the winter strength and conditioning program. National Letter of Intent Day is on Feb. 5 and spring practice will culminate with the Blue-White Game on April 12.
Penn State returns 15 starters for the 2014 season (7 offense, 7 defense, 1 specialist), which begins August 30 vs. 2014 Fiesta Bowl champion UCF in the Croke Park Classic in Dublin, Ireland. The Nittany Lions will play three Top 10 teams during the 2014 campaign, including Rose Bowl Champion Michigan State, Ohio State and UCF. Penn State will host Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern and Maryland during its 2014 Big Ten home schedule.
For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing 2014 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Penn State Athletics is on Twitter (http://www.gopsusports.com/ot/twitter.html) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pennstatenittanylions).
DT | Gainesville, Fla. | Bainbridge High School (Northwest Mississippi C.C.) | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 290
Tarow Barney comes to Penn State with two seasons of eligibility after playing two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College. With the departure of DaQuan Jones and Kyle Baublitz, the 6-foot-1, 290-pound Barney has a chance to make an impression in spring drills. Ranked the No. 5 defensive lineman and 19th best player overall in the ESPN Junior College Top 50 rankings, Barney made 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2013 after helping the Rangers to their first bowl victory in 20 seasons during the 2012 campaign.
QB | Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | IMG Academy | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 226
An Under Armour All-America Game selection, O'Connor was among the top quarterback recruits in the class of 2014. A native of Ottawa, Ontario, O'Connor spent his final two years of high school in the United States, playing his junior season at Baylor School in Tennessee before attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. last season. Playing for Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Chris Weinke, he led IMG Academy to an 8-2 record and threw for 1,804 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2012. An ESPN Top 300 recruit, O'Connor completed 54 percent of his passes (118-of-218), threw just five interceptions and rushed for a pair of touchdowns in 10 starts.
WR | Hubert, N.C. | Swansboro High School | Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 171
One of the nation's top prep receivers, DeAndre Thompkins ranked 66th in the 2014 ESPN 300 and played in the Under Armour All-America Game. As a senior, Thompkins rushed for 699 yards and nine touchdowns, while making 28 receptions for 269 yards and four scores. The 5-foot-11 wideout helped the Pirates to an 8-4 overall record and an appearance in the NCHSAA 3A playoffs as a senior. The multi-talented Thompkins played multiple positions as a prep; spending time at running back and receiver, along with returning kickoffs and punts, and was invited to the 2014 ESPN The Opening. He amassed over 2,000 all-purpose yards during his junior season and gained nearly 1,500 all-purpose yards as a senior. He also saw time in the secondary where he accumulated 100 tackles, two interceptions and recovered seven fumbles.
DT | Millville, N.J. | Millville High School | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 267
One of the top defensive linemen in the state, White earned second-team All-New Jersey, was named the South Jersey Times Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team all-conference three times in his career. As a junior, White posted 80 tackles and made 14 stops behind the line of scrimmage. White has an opportunity to add to the long list of successful Nittany Lions to hail from the Garden State and will look to fill the void left by the departure of first-team All-Big Ten tackle DaQuan Jones and Kyle Baublitz.
OT | Woodbridge, Va. | C.D. Hylton High School | Ht: 6-7 | Wt: 268
Wright starred as a two-way standout at C.D. Hylton High School, located 30 minutes south of Washington, D.C., before attending Milford Academy last season. Wright helped the Falcons to a 9-3 record, helping the offense pile up 2,247 yards rushing and more than 2,700 yards passing. Milford Academy averaged 37.9 points per game with 18 rushing scores and 25 passing touchdowns. Wright posted nine tackles (five solo), with three tackles for loss in two games on the defensive line, before anchoring the offensive line the remainder of the season. The 6-foot-7, 268-pounder will look to make an immediate impact on an offensive line unit that lost three starters to graduation in 2013.