Former Penn State star battles debilitating disease; Nittany Lions develop recruiting pipeline

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Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

The final battle

Penn State will head to the Fiesta Bowl, site of arguably their most famous win in school history. On Jan. 2, 1987, fullback Steve Smith and his teammates shook up the college football landscape with a 14-10 victory over Miami to win the school’s second national title.

Now Smith is locked in another battle, one that he ultimately will not be able to win, writes Frank Bodani of the York Daily Record.

Smith is suffering from ALS and, as Bodani notes, believes football was the cause for his condition.

Bodani writes:

He stopped watching the games and doesn’t talk about them. He and his family believe the brutal hits he absorbed as a fullback at Penn State and in the NFL have led to the ALS that has robbed him of so much of his life the past 15 years.


Smith has been confined to a wheelchair for more than a decade and uses a computer to speak.

A pipeline formed

As the Nittany Lions await word if they will land 5-star prospect Micah Parsons, they have wasted little time in developing a pipeline at Parsons’ high school.

With wide receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts already committed to the Class of 2018, current Harrisburg junior Andre White picked up an offer from the Nittany Lions on Thursday.

More on White’s offer from Greg Pickel at Pennlive.

Pickel writes:

The Lions were in District-III territory on Thursday, as they offered a preferred walk-on spot to Warwick Class of 2018 quarterback Grayson Kline earlier in the day and then verbally offered a scholarship to standout junior linebacker Andre White Jr. of the Harrisburg Cougars’ just after lunch time.

White has offers from UConn and Temple already.

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Early impact?

Parsons has the focus of everyone’s attention next week when he announces his decision, one that could greatly impact Penn State’s defensive front early on.

But who else could step in and make an early impact?

Land Of 10’s Tyler Donohue offers his take on which recruits to keep an eye on headed into the 2018 spring practice session and preseason.

Second best

Penn State’s thrilling loss — yes, there is such a thing — at Ohio State was pegged the second-best game of the 2017 regular season, as picked by ESPN’s Jake Trotter.

Trotter thought the Nittany Lions’ thrilling road win at Iowa on Sept. 23 was the sixth-best game of the season.

Hit rewind

Wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins will surely see an increased workload in 2018. But his 2017 wasn’t too shabby either.

Collin Weider of Victory Bell Rings takes a look back at Thompkins’ season. Thompkins had 4 touchdowns and averaged 15.5 yards a catch.

Should quarterback Trace McSorley stay, and there is no reason to think he’ll leave before his senior season, Thompkins could emerge as one of his go-to receivers next season.

Miss previous editions of the Wakeup Call? They can be found here.

The post Former Penn State star battles debilitating disease; Nittany Lions develop recruiting pipeline appeared first on Land of 10.

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