With all the concern Penn State fans had about their school's stagnant football recruiting efforts through June, the Nittany Lions began July with a big verbal commitment.
Big, as in 6-foot-9, 245-pound Shawn Oakman.
Oakman, who totaled 17 sacks last year from his defensive end spot for Penn Wood High School in Delaware County, made a surprise oral pledge to the Lions Thursday. He chose Penn State over Temple and Pitt.
The Lions had been considered the early favorite to land Oakman, but, recently, speculation had the Panthers moving into the lead after a recent Oakman visit to Pitt.
"I couldn't be happier," Oakman told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "It came down to what I thought what college should be and also what college coach was going to push from being good to being great. I think Coach [Larry] Johnson and Coach [Ron] Vanderlinden can do that. That's why I choose Penn State.''
The Lions only had one verbal commitment before Oakman announced his decision. New Jersey defensive tackle Marquise Wright - once considered to be leaning heavily to Penn State - recently became the latest in a string of high-profile recruiting targets to pick other schools.
Penn State is believed to have 15-18 scholarships available for this recruiting class.
UConn, North Carolina State, South Carolina and Rice also had scholarship offers on the table for Oakman, who, as a junior, made the Inquirer's all-southeastern Pennsylvania second team as a defensive lineman after making more than 130 tackles. Penn Wood was 8-4 and held half of its opponents to single digits.
Although close to 250 pounds, Oakman still looks very thin and has plenty of room to fill out. While it appears he'll be looked at on defense first, there are some who feel his future might be as an offensive tackle.
"With the strides he's made in the last 12 months, I can't wait to see the strides he'll make in the next 12 months," Penn Wood coach Sam Mormando said to the York Daily Record in April.
Oakman's agility adds to his upside. He was also a key player on the Patriots' PIAA Class AAAA basketball finalist teams the last two seasons. Penn State and Rice reportedly were recruiting him in both sports.