Although it may not be the begin-all and end-all for recruiting that a lot of fans think, anytime Penn State hosts a night game, it's a terrific chance to showcase just how exciting the atmosphere can be at Beaver Stadium for prospects.
Barring any changes during the week - like what happened a few years ago when Nittany Lion coach Joe Paterno cancelled official visits so his team could focus on Ohio State - Saturday's game with Illinois should rank with Michigan as the biggest draws for potential future Nittany Lions.
As is always the case, a large contingent of players that have already committed to the Lions will be on hand. A preliminary list of attendees published by BlueWhite Illustrated on its Web site earlier this week included 15 of Penn State's 16 verbals.
Of course, what Penn State fans really want to know is who is still available that might be there Saturday and could join that list. While such a list is fluid, there are a couple of names that had been confirmed to be on the sidelines.
The biggest of those names is that of 6-foot-3, 210-pound Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown. An all-state pick at three positions who possesses sub-4.5 speed and other scholarship offers from the likes of Oregon, Tennessee and South Carolina, Brown is seen by many as a priority recruit in a year the Lions are looking for pass catchers.
Devon Smith fills the same need, although, at 5-7, 150, he is more of a slot receiver/return specialist. Unlike Brown, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Smith make a commitment during the weekend. He is close to Lion recruits Derrick Thomas and Stephon Morris, who will also be on hand.
If Brown isn't the most highly-anticipated uncommitted recruit at the game, it probably means that Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins made the trip. Jenkins is considered a top-10 prospect regardless of position. While he's been quiet about his recruiting, the consensus is he favors Penn State. If he doesn't come up this Saturday, expect him at the Michigan game.
Glenn Carson, a blue-chip linebacker from New Jersey, might also be on hand.
Often, though, Penn State likes to schedule more of its official visits in the offseason, when it has more time for the recruits. Therefore, games like Illinois are used instead as a vehicle to give underclassmen a good early impression of University Park.
A large group of players graduating in 2010 and 2011 are expected to be on hand Saturday. Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones, Canon-McMillan linebacker Mike Hull, State College receiver Alex Kenney and Bishop McDevitt wideout Salath Williams are some of the top high school juniors that could be in attendance.
Sophomores Matt Johnson (Bishop McDevitt, quarterback) and Terrell Chestnut (defensive back, Pottsgrove) could be there, too.
- Philip Cmor