Penn State recruiting: Class leader Jesse Luketa says uncommitted visitors ‘left with a new No. 1’

Stay updated as Penn State rises toward the top of the recruiting rankings! Don’t miss the coverage from Tyler Donohue, who brings a decade of experience as a national college football reporter and a recruiting department staff member with a Big Ten program. Read his daily notebooks here at 7:20 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and follow us on Twitter for the latest Nittany Lions recruiting news.

Jesse Luketa confident Penn State impressed top targets

In the aftermath of a monumental official visit weekend, reactions continue to arrive from several Penn State commits. Our Monday notebook included feedback from future Nittany Lions players who expressed confidence in the impact of their communal stay on campus, along with its ramifications on key remaining targets.

“We’re in a really good spot to land those recruits, and I expect to see the class size increase very shortly,” quarterback Will Levis said.

I caught up with Penn State linebacker pledge Jesse Luketa late Monday evening. Considered the vocal leader of this 20-prospect class, the Mercyhurst Prep (Erie, Pa.) senior explained there is now abundant optimism regarding where things stand with top-tier uncommitted talent.

The Nittany Lions hosted a trio of coveted recruits Dec. 8-10. Micah Parsons, the initial member of Penn State’s 2018 class, joined fellow blue-chip defensive end Tyreke Smith and top-10 offensive tackle talent Rasheed Walker in Happy Valley.

Each are considering a select few universities as their commitment announcements approach, and none have publicly declared a leader to this point. Still, Luketa has no doubts about where things stand.

“The guys who are uncommitted left State College with a new No. 1 and I’m sure of it,” he said.

RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board

So what exactly creates this confidence for Luketa and the other Penn State commits who’ve weighed in this week?

By all accounts, it goes beyond football. References  to “family” are frequent during these conversations, and that’s precisely what Luketa expressed.

“We got to spend time with them and make sure they knew we’ve already welcomed them into the family,” he said. “This weekend it was all about welcoming them home because we’re not letting them go anywhere else.”

Among these latest visitors, Parsons is expected to announce next. His decision date scheduled for Dec. 20, the clock is ticking down on a captivating recruitment.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Harrisburg (Pa.) High School standout is considered a top-five overall prospect in 247Sports composite rankings. Parsons was arguably Pennsylvania’s premier defender and running back this season, setting the stage for a highly publicized conclusion to his lengthy search for an ideal collegiate fit.

He received a Penn State offer during his freshman year and then spent 14 months pledged to the program prior to his April 23 de-commitment. Harrisburg teammate Shaquon Anderson-Butts is a member of the Nittany Lions class, and there is a growing consensus Parsons will re-join this group despite sustained interest in schools such as Georgia and Oklahoma.

His announcement on the first day of college football’s inaugural early signing period (Dec. 20-22) could start an immensely successful final stretch of the 2018 cycle for James Franklin & Co.

“Micah isn’t a stranger to State College so I’m looking forward to his commitment on signing day because our family is about to get better,” Luketa said.

Parsons, Smith and Walker were surrounded by potential Penn State teammates during the weekend. It’s a class that’s as tight-knit as any you’ll find in college football, and that goes a long way toward establishing trust in advance of upcoming enrollment.

Luketa, who joins the program in January, views this official visit weekend as another stride toward reaching shared goals.

“Being able to just bond with my band of brothers,” he said. “Our class is already tight, so for us this weekend was an opportunity for our families to interact and develop a strong relationship because the biggest thing for us is we are a family. … Coach Franklin just wanted all of us to feel at home.”

Former PSU target Kwantel Raines wraps up recruitment

Following the Dec. 1 arrest of 4-star Philadelphia safety Isheem Young and his subsequent removal from Penn State’s 2018 class, focus naturally shifted toward potential replacements. It didn’t take long for our Land of 10 audience to inquire about one player in particular: Kwantel Raines.

Raines, a 6-3, 200-pound senior at Aliquippa (Pa.) High School, is considered one of Pennsylvania’s premier defensive prospects. A rangy, physical safety who carries the traits of a potential hybrid outside linebacker, he consistently listed Penn State among his top options throughout a multiyear recruitment.

An Oct. 21 visit to Beaver Stadium preceded Raines’ scheduled Oct. 30 commitment date. Despite his sustained interest in a Nittany Lions program that extended a scholarship offer during his sophomore year, it wasn’t clear whether Penn State had the scholarship slots to make a potential pledge realistic at that time.

He committed to West Virginia, while listing Florida, Penn State and Pittsburgh as his other finalists.

Though the Nittany Lions have since dropped from 22 pledges to 20, attention has been primarily placed on linemen and Penn State legacy receiver Solomon Enis. While I can’t confirm whether staff members reopened communication with Raines since Young’s arrest, there has been little to indicate substantial efforts were underway to flip his commitment from West Virginia.

Still, social media was certainly buzzing about Raines resurfacing as a Nittany Lions target, especially since he told 247Sports his signing “probably” wouldn’t occur until February. You can bet West Virginia coaches also took notice of the situation leading into his official visit in Morgantown last weekend.

There is no longer room for speculation, as Raines revealed Monday night he intends to seal the deal with West Virginia early.

Penn State may be content to sign three defensive backs, though others of interest may emerge in the coming weeks depending on how things develop with priority targets. The list of legitimate potential additions for this class has been quite short for a few months, and we can now officially cross off Raines.

The post Penn State recruiting: Class leader Jesse Luketa says uncommitted visitors ‘left with a new No. 1’ appeared first on Land of 10.

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