Penn State recruiting: Lions commits Nick Tarburton and Trent Gordon ready to enroll early

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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.


Father of commit Nick Tarburton talks early enrollment

With less than a week remaining until the start of college football’s early signing period, 2018 Penn State commits have truly reached the final moments of lengthy recruitments. Though most must wait until next summer to actually move onto campus, a few are preparing to join the program in January.

Linebacker Nick Tarburton is among them, his father confirmed during a talk Thursday morning with Land of 10.

“He’s excited to get started at Penn State and become part of a fantastic program,” Rick Tarburton said. “Nick is focused on making the adjustment from an academic perspective, as well as competing against college athletes.”

Considered a 4-star prospect and the No. 11 inside linebacker in 247Sports composite rankings, this Pennridge (Perkasie, Pa.) High School senior is now focused on maximizing workouts to arrive on campus prepared for his next challenge.

“That’s his passion, that’s what he wants to do,” Rick said. “There’s nothing he wants to do more than play football.”

RELATED: 2018 Penn State recruiting big board

Tarburton shined throughout his prep career, collecting scholarship offers from schools such as Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse by the midpoint of his junior year. He committed to Penn State on Feb. 9, less than two weeks after receiving a Nittany Lions offer.

Not too long afterward, focus shifted toward arriving in Happy Valley as an early enrollee.

“It goes back to last summer. Nick was working with the administration of his school,” Rick said. “He had to take class at a local community college in order to get enough credits. It’s something he’s been working toward.”

Tarburton put himself on a fast track in the classroom while delivering yet another dominant season.

He collected 98 tackles, including 19 for loss, and 7 sacks in 2017, according to MaxPreps. Tarburton added 643 yards from scrimmage and 6 offensive touchdowns as a senior.

Since the start of his sophomore campaign, Tarburton tallied 294 tackles — 47 for loss — and 17 sacks.

Fellow Nittany Lions linebacker pledge Jesse Luketa is also on the verge of enrolling at Penn State. He expressed excitement about getting to work in spring camp alongside his new teammate.

“Nick and I can be a great tandem,” Luketa said. “We’re head hunters and we’re not afraid to get physical. Our two most valuable assets are our athletic play and physicality. I can’t wait for Penn State Nation to see how physical Nick and I are when we get onto the college field.”

Due to Tarburton’s physical stature, there has been speculation about the possibility of him progressing into a defensive end. Rick said his son is approximately 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 255 pounds at this point, and he won’t shy away from however Penn State plans to utilize him.

“He’ll play anywhere Coach [James] Franklin tells him to play. Nick is a football player,” Rick said. “He wants to play linebacker. I think he likes the leadership aspects of linebacker, especially middle linebacker, but when he was younger he played defensive end for years. They moved him to linebacker because teams would run away from him when he was at end. As far as where he’ll play [at Penn State], I think it’s going to depend on what the team needs.”

Last weekend, Tarburton returned to State College for an official visit. His parents and brothers joined him on campus. The next time that happens he’ll be a member of the Nittany Lions football program.

“It’s a little bit strange to think he’s going away in a couple of weeks but the reality is we’ve always tried to get him prepared to pursue his dream,” Rick said. “We feel great because I think he’s blessed to be coached by someone who is concerned. Not just about the football aspect of it, but also the academics and teaching him to be a productive member of society. I feel that way with the coaching staff, from Coach Franklin all the way throughout the organization.”

Trent Gordon aims to earn a role as freshman

Along with Tarburton and Luketa, the Penn State defense is also set to add 2018 prospects Trent Gordon and Isaiah Humphries to its secondary this winter. These Texas standouts didn’t wait long to commit, announcing their collegiate intentions as juniors.

Gordon, a 5-11, 178-pound playmaker at Manvel High School, secured more than 30 scholarship offers during his prep career. He committed to the Nittany Lions on March 29 and is ready to make his mark on the program.

“One of my goals is to either start or be in rotation with the other defensive backs when the season starts,” Gordon said Thursday afternoon before listing a few more ambitions.

“Academically maintain a high GPA, make new relationships and get to making some money and many career opportunities.”

Gordon, considered a top-40 cornerback recruit in composite rankings, is a balanced defensive back. He excels in pass coverage and run support, further evidenced by a look at his stat sheet as an upperclassman.

An impressive junior campaign thrust him into a national spotlight and helped lead to a January offer from Penn State. Gordon tallied 81 tackles, 10 pass deflections and 2 interceptions in 2016, per MaxPreps.

He’ll depart the Lone Star State with appreciation for his time at Manvel.

“I’m most proud about the relationships that I’ve made on the football team and all of the individual accomplishments that I have done as well,” Gordon said.

Now turning toward the future, he’s embraced the value of enrolling months before most members of this Nittany Lions class.

“It is important because I want to learn the plays earlier so that I can get on the field quicker as a true freshman,” Gordon said.

Although he’s flourished as a cornerback, Gordon explained his impact may not be restricted to one position. The Nittany Lions will lose a few key contributors from the defensive backfield this offseason, and recently parted ways with 4-star safety prospect Isheem Young due to an off-field incident.

“I will be playing cornerback but the talk is I could switch between nickel, safety or corner. But that’s just a rumor that I’ve heard,” Gordon said.

Aside from the four defensive recruits, Penn State also plans to welcome top-10 tight end prospect Zack Kuntz to campus as a student-athlete next month.

Miss any previous editions of our daily Penn State recruiting notebook? You can find them all here.

The post Penn State recruiting: Lions commits Nick Tarburton and Trent Gordon ready to enroll early appeared first on Land of 10.

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