Penn State is occupied preparing for a crucial Saturday afternoon game against Iowa. Regardless, college football programs never shift much focus off the recruiting trail, where the Nittany Lions sustain lofty ambitions.
James Franklin and his staff extended three scholarship offers Thursday, each revealed on Twitter via their recipients. Cornerback Tony Grimes, safety Antonio Johnson and receiver Johnny Wilson are the latest high school standouts to land on the Nittany Lions’ target board.
More than 300 current prep players have been presented a Penn State offer, spanning all four classes (an overwhelming majority are juniors and seniors). The Nittany Lions currently claim 17 commits in a 2019 recruiting class listed 13th nationally and second among Big Ten programs in 247Sports composite rankings, though the team remains in search of its first verbal pledge in the recruiting cycles beyond.
The aforementioned trio of prospects represent long-term pursuits. Johnson and Wilson are blue-chip talents in the 202o class, while Grimes is among the most coveted 2021 recruits in America.
Let’s take a look at each of these new Nittany Lions interests.
CB Tony Grimes
High School: Princess Anne (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Size: 6-foot, 180 pounds
Composite Ranking: No. 1 cornerback; No. 12 overall; No. 1 in Virginia
Crystal Ball: Virginia Tech (100 percent)
Grimes remains in the midst of his sophomore season but is already approaching 20 offers. His early list of collegiate options includes Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech, which is off to a strong start in its pursuit of the in-state prospect.
He established an early reputation in high school, securing six interceptions in 2017, according to Larry Rubama of The Virginian-Pilot. Aside from his stellar play in the defensive secondary, Grimes has also seen action at receiver and running back.
Last month, he laid out the course of action for his recruitment during a conversation with 247Sports Virginia reporter Evan G. Watkins.
“At the end of the season, we will be focusing on ten schools,” Grimes said. “From there, we will narrow down to eight, and then five, and then three, and then one.”
S Antonio Johnson
High School: East St. Louis (Ill.)
Size: 6-2, 185 pounds
Composite Ranking: No. 12 safety; No. 233 overall; No. 3 in Illinois
Crystal Ball: No picks
Johnson presents promise on offense as a receiver but his highest ceiling is likely found at safety. A Power Five recruiting target since his sophomore year, he’s collected other Big Ten offers from Indiana and Iowa. Opportunities elsewhere include Iowa State, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia Tech.
Last month, Johnson listed Penn State alongside Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin among programs that had increased their communication with him despite the absence of an offer. The Nittany Lions took a step forward this week by officially entering the equation.
Through nine games as a junior, Johnson has secured 65 total tackles and four interceptions, according to MaxPreps. He’s added 23 catches for 404 yards and five touchdowns, and also shines as a special teams return threat.
WR Johnny Wilson
High School: Calabasas (Calif.)
Size: 6-5, 215 pounds
Composite Ranking: No. 2 receiver; No. 17 overall; No. 5 in California
Crystal Ball: UCLA (33 percent), USC (33 percent), Washington (33 percent)
Wilson is the latest five-star recruit to emerge at Calabasas, which has been a consistent Power Five prospect factory. As his size would indicate, Wilson possesses a significant physical advantage in pretty much every matchup he’ll encounter against prep competition.
That’s been reflected on the stat sheet throughout his career.
In less than three high school seasons, Wilson has collected 130 receptions for 2,056 yards and 32 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps. He’s surpassed 30 offers, including those from Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Southern Cal and UCLA.