Not even done filling its 2009 football recruiting class, Penn State got an early - and impressive - jump on 2010.
Canon-McMillan junior linebacker Mike Hull, expected to be a top national prospect next year, gave the Nittany Lions their first verbal commitment for his class while attending Penn State's 49-18 win over Michigan State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
''I just felt like it was the right time to commit to Penn State,'' Hull told BlueWhite Illustrated following the game. ''I love the atmosphere. I love the school and the coaching staff. I just wanted to get it over with and get the class of 2010 kicked off right here.''
A member of the Rivals250 watch list for the junior class, Hull (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) had already been hearing from a who's who of colleges from across the country, including Oregon, Notre Dame, Pitt, Ohio State, Michigan and West Virginia.
Penn State, though, had long been considered the team to beat. Hull's father, Tom, was a linebacker for the Nittany Lions in the early 1970s before going on to play in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers. His uncle, John, also lettered at Penn State.
The younger Hull has carved out a fairly impressive niche for himself. He came into his junior year a two-time unanimous first-team WPIAL all-section player, and last year led all of District 7 Class AAAA in rushing with 1,300 yards.
''He's an outstanding running back. I've been blessed to have coached some good ones in my 30 years,'' said Big Macs coach Guy Montecalvo, another former Nittany Lion who coached Brian Davis, Aaron Gatten and Travis Thomas while at Washington High. ''I would assume he's going to play on the defensive side of the ball, but whoever gets him has to at least look at him as a running back. Defensively, though, he has everything you look for in a linebacker. He has played some safety for us as well.''
Hull had more than 100 tackles in each of his first two varsity seasons. His numbers were down a bit this year - he only had 806 yards rushing while playing the entire campaign with a lower back he injured in summer workouts - but he still helped the Big Macs get into the playoffs.
He has drawn comparisons to Penn State linebackers and WPIAL standouts Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee.
Hull's list of achievements extend beyond football. He overcame an ankle injury to finish sixth in the state at 215 pounds in wrestling and was a key component on the Big Mac baseball team that won the PIAA Class AAAA championship at Blair County Ballpark back in June.
''He has tremendous strength and speed. For a guy 215 pounds, he runs the 40 in 4.4, 4.5 seconds,'' Montecalvo said. ''He's extremely explosive. He can get up on the dip bar and do 60 dips.
''He can dunk a basketball. He's the type of guy that you have to gear him down at practice sometimes.''
Penn State is also looking at one of Hull's best friends, Canon-Mac running back/safety Chad Hagan. He, too, is a junior.
Another key 2010 target for the Nittany Lions from the WPIAL, Sto-Rox quarterback Paul Jones, was on hand for Saturday's game with the Spartans, as well.
Penn State's senior day turned out to be more of an attraction for juniors and sophomores than uncommitted 2009 prospects. Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown and Danville quarterback Andrew Shoop were the best-known high school seniors making unofficial visits, joining a number of players that had already committed to the Lions.
It appears Minnesota wideout BrYce McNeal and Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome are looking to make visits to University Park in early December. Penn State reportedly is hoping to get New Jersey safety Gerald Hodges back on campus sometime in the next month, too; Hodges has verbally committed to Rutgers but is still weighing a Nittany Lion offer.
The Lions currently have 20 commitments for 2009 and are expected to bring in 25-28 scholarship players.