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Feb. 1, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football head coach Bill O'Brien announced his first recruiting class on today. The Nittany Lions welcomed 19 student-athletes who signed National Letters of Intent to join the football program.
Penn State's 2012 recruiting class features 10 offensive signees and nine defensive signees from nine different states and one from Canada. Breaking down the class by position, the signees include five athletes on the defensive line, four wide receivers, three defensive backs, two on the offensive line, two tight ends, one linebacker, one quarterback and one running back.
"I've got to give a lot of credit to the assistant coaches, especially (defensive line coach) Larry Johnson, who I asked to oversee the (recruiting) transition period here," said O'Brien from Indianapolis, where he is preparing to lead the New England Patriots' offense in Super Bowl XLVI. "As evidenced by today, he did a great job of keeping it rolling. The other guys came in there and hit the ground running."
"One of the things we talked about right off the bat as far as a Penn State football player is concerned, is a smart, tough, instinctive player, with mental toughness and physical toughness, is going to come in there and do the right thing on and off the field," stated O'Brien. "He's going to go to class. He's going to work hard in the classroom. He's going to come into that building and work very hard to be the best football player he can be. He's going to be a guy that accepts whatever role we ask him to accept and put the team first. To me we've identified these guys in this class as those types of guys and, again, we're excited about the class."
Sixteen of the Nittany Lions' 19 signees live 350 miles or less from State College.
"I've said this before, we've got to do a great job in that 300-400-mile radius of Pennsylvania -- Ohio, New Jersey, New England....Really the majority of our roster should come from there. Then what we want to do is use or connections where we've coached, maybe Georgia, Florida, Alabama, to try to get some guys that we think fit at Penn State and are willing to make the travel; the parents are willing to travel."
Below is a complete list of the 2012 Penn State signees and brief bio information.
|Steven Bench||QB||6-2||200||Fr./Fr.||Cairo/Bainbridge, Ga.|
|Da'Quan Davis||DB||5-11||165||Fr./Fr.||Calvert Hall College HS/Rosedale, Md.|
|Derek Dowrey||DL||6-3||280||Fr./Fr.||John Handley/Winchester, Va.|
|Brian Gaia||DL||6-4||285||Fr./Fr.||Gilman School/Pasadena, Md.|
|Malik Golden||WR||6-2||185||Fr./Fr.||Cheshire Academy/Hartford, Conn.|
|Jesse James||TE||6-7||265||Fr./Fr.||South Allegheny/Glassport, Pa.|
|Austin Johnson||DL||6-5||285||Fr./Fr.||St. Augustine Prep/Galloway, N.J.|
|Jake Kiley||DB||6-1||170||Fr./Fr.||New Hampton School/Plymouth, N.H.|
|Wendy Laurent||OL||6-3||285||Fr./Fr.||The Hun School/Hamilton, N.J.|
|Eugene Lewis||WR||6-2||185||Fr./Fr.||Wyoming Valley West/Wilkes-Barre, Pa.|
|Jordan Lucas||DB||6-1||185||Fr./Fr.||Worcester Academy/New Rochelle, N.Y.|
|Akeel Lynch||RB||6-0||195||Fr./Fr.||St. Francis (N.Y.)/Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Jamil Pollard||DL||6-4||275||Fr./Fr.||West Deptford/West Deptford, N.J.|
|Evan Schwan||DL||6-6||245||Fr./Fr.||Central Dauphin/Harrisburg, Pa.|
|Anthony Stanko||OL||6-5||295||Fr./Fr.||Howland/Howland, Ohio|
|Nyeem Wartman||LB||6-3||240||Fr./Fr.||Valley View/Jessup, Pa.|
|Brent Wilkerson||TE||6-5||250||Fr./Fr.||DeMatha Catholic/Clinton, Md.|
|Trevor Williams||WR||6-1||180||Fr./Fr.||Calvert Hall College HS/Nottingham, Md.|
Getting to Know Bench:
The Georgia native passed for 11 touchdowns and rushed for nine scores during his senior season at Cairo High School in 2011. Bench was regarded in high school as a smart player with quick decision-making. He has a 3.86 GPA at Cairo H.S.
Getting to Know Davis:
The metro-Baltimore native attended the same high school as current Penn State freshman cornerback Adrian Amos, along with incoming freshman Trevor Williams. Davis had 48 tackles, four interceptions and four forced fumbles as a senior. As a junior, the former Calvert Hall College H.S. standout registered 48 tackles, six interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Davis is regarded for his good instincts and coverage skills. Davis helped lead Calvert Hall to an 11-1 season and its first conference championship since 1982.
Getting to Know Dowrey:
The John Handley H.S. standout earned three-straight The Northern Virginia Daily's Defensive Player of the Year honors. Dowrey had 107 tackles and 13.5 sacks during his senior season. As a junior, Dowrey tallied 145 tackles and 10.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position. Dowrey made 128 tackles and nine sacks during his sophomore season.
Getting to Know Gaia:
The Maryland native was a two-way star for Gilman School. Gaia was recruited by several schools as an offensive guard, but he has the tools to play on the defensive side of the ball at the college level. The standout lineman earned all-state, all-metro and all-conference honors in high school.
Getting to Know Golden:
Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, Golden is an athletic receiver from Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. Golden rushed for 745 yards and five touchdowns, along with 48 receptions for 680 yards and five receiving touchdowns as a junior.
Getting to Know James:
James will join a long line of Penn State football student-athletes from greater Pittsburgh. A second-team PA Football News All-State honoree, James brings a good combination of size and speed to the program. The South Allegheny H.S. standout has the tools to play either tackle or tight end at the college level. He caught 34 passes for 463 yards and was named second-team all-state at tight end as a junior. James enrolled in classes at Penn State in January.
Getting to Know Johnson:
The New Jersey native has the size and skill set to play on either side of the ball in college. Johnson is rated a three-star prospect from Rivals and Scout. He is also a standout basketball player. He helped lead St. Augustine Prep to the state Non-Public A basketball title as a junior. Johnson's grandfather was a professional boxer. Johnson played at the same school as former Nittany Lion defensive end Jack Crawford.
Getting to Know Kiley:
A two-way athlete for The New Hampton School, Kiley played both quarterback and defensive back in high school. Nominated to play in the U.S. Army All-American Football Bowl, Kiley tallied 30 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. He also rushed for eight touchdowns, threw two scores and caught five touchdowns on offense. In his junior season, the New Hampshire native made 47 tackles and four interceptions. He also scored 24 touchdowns (14 rushing, 10 passing) while playing quarterback. Kiley was named to the All-New England squad and Most Valuable Player in the Evergreen League in 2010.
Photo Courtesy FightOnState
Getting to Know Laurent:
Laurent has the ability to play on either side of the ball. The New Jersey product attended the same prep school as current Nittany Lion freshman defensive tackle Anthony Alosi.
Photo Courtesy FightOnState
Getting to Know Lewis:
A four-star prospect, according to Scout and Rivals, Lewis is regarded as an athlete with good hands, jumping ability and body control. As a quarterback, Lewis rushed for 1,534 yards and 28 touchdowns, in addition to throwing for 1,012 yards and 10 touchdowns. Lewis accounted for 30 touchdowns (18 rushing and 12 passing) as a junior at Wyoming Valley West H.S.
Getting to Know Lucas:
The metro New York City native played both receiver and defensive back in high school. Lucas, a three-star prospect on Scout and Rivals, is regarded as an athlete with good ball skills, closing speed and quickness.
Getting to Know Lynch:
The New York product was named first-team All-Western New York running back and was selected New York State's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2011. Lynch rushed for 25 touchdowns and a school-record 2,131 yards during his senior season, which included a 376-yard, five touchdown performance in a 42-27 victory over Bishop Timon-St. Jude. Lynch rushed for 828 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior.
Getting to Know Pollard:
The New Jersey native brings good size and quickness to the defensive line. Pollard registered 56 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and knocked down three passes as a junior. The West Deptford H.S. standout made 58 stops and tallied three sacks as a sophomore. Pollard attended the same high school as former Nittany Lion safety Anthony Scirrotto.
Getting to Know Schwan:
The Harrisburg product finished his senior season with 72 tackles and 16.5 sacks at Central Dauphin H.S. Schwan earned first-team all-state and all-conference recognition as a senior. He was also nominated to play in the 2012 Big 33 game. Schwan helped lead Central Dauphin to the 2011 PIAA Class AAAA state title in December.
Getting to Know Stanko:
The Howland, Ohio, native is known as an aggressive offensive lineman with very strong run-blocking ability and a physical overall approach to his game. Stanko helped lead Howland H.S. to a 9-1 season in 2011. Stanko attended the same high school as former Nittany Lion cornerback Tony Davis.
Getting to Know Warner:
Son of Penn State All-American running back Curt Warner, Jonathan Warner was named to The Columbian's All-Region team as senior. He helped lead Camas H.S. to the Class 3A state semifinals in 2011. Warner tallied 48 receptions for 775 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. Warner also helped lead Camas HS to an 11-1 season in 2010.
Photo Courtesy FightOnState
Getting to Know Wartman:
Wartman played a variety of different positions on the defensive side of the ball in high school. The Jessup, Pa., product recorded 115 tackles, 10 for a loss, two forced fumbles and one interception. The Valley View H.S. standout also ran track in high school. He helped tally a District 2 Class AAA gold medal on a Valley View H.S. 400-meter relay team.
Getting to Know Wilkerson:
Wilkerson is a three-star prospect with good size at the tight end position. He was also a standout defensive end for DeMatha H.S. Wilkerson is regarded for his explosive first step and athleticism.
Getting to Know Williams:
Williams attended the same high school as current Penn State freshman cornerback Adrian Amos, along with incoming freshman Da'Quan Davis. Williams was named All-Met as a senior after catching 99 passes for 1,180 yards and 15 touchdowns. The metro-Baltimore product helped lead Calvert Hall to an 11-1 season and its first conference championship since 1982. Williams, regarded as a receiver with great jumping ability, also played free safety during his senior season.