It's been a rocky road so far for Penn State football recruiting in the last year, but there shouldn't be much concern about the guys paving the way for Nittany Lion running backs in the next few seasons.
New Jersey guard recruit Angelo Mangiro played in the Under Armour All-American Game last week, and Saturday afternoon at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio before a national television audience, Owings Mill, Md., offensive tackle Donovan Smith became the second player to make a verbal commitment to Penn State in less than 24 hours.
Smith is the 12th member of the Lions' 2011 recruiting class. On Friday, Penn State got a pledge from Indiana all-state place-kicker Sam Ficken.
"Looks like I'm going to play in State College,'' Smith said when asked to choose from among a group of hats that included Penn State and his other finalists, UCLA and North Carolina State, early in Saturday's NBC telecast of the East's 13-10 victory at the Alamodome.
Twenty schools had offered scholarships to Smith, who eliminated Michigan State, Maryland, Syracuse and UConn from contention late last year. He was a first-team Baltimore Sun all-met pick as a senior after going his second year in a row without allowing a sack and anchoring the offensive line for an Eagle team that averaged more than 200 rushing yards per game.
The 6-foot-6, 280-pound Smith had visited Penn State numerous times and had been considered the Nittany Lions' to lose for quite a while.
"The fact that they have 108,000 seats, that's kind of like NFL football," Smith told the Sun after a trip to Penn State for the Nittany Lions' game against Michigan in November. "The students and all the alums that they have up there [stood out]. They're very big on that. The coaching staff [is a positive]. I love the campus. The Michigan game was a good game. Even after [Wolverines quarterback] Denard Robinson broke a big run, the crowd never faded out. They stayed in the game, and it was a great experience."
Smith also excelled as a defensive end for the Eagles, leading the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks the last two years.
Originally from Hempstead, N.Y., Smith burst onto the recruiting radar at last year's U.S. Army All-America Combine after enabling Owings Mills to snap a 53-game losing streak in his junior season.
Ishaq Williams, part of an East defensive line that piled up 10 sacks of West quarterbacks Saturday, also was scheduled to make his college choice. However, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound New York defensive end postponed his announcement.
Williams intends to enroll in January, so his decision should be coming in the next few days. Williams is reputed to be favoring Notre Dame over Penn State and Syracuse.
Penn State also has been involved with another uncommitted player on the East defensive line, McKeesport tackle Delvon Simmons.
Ficken, from Valparaiso High School, received a scholarship offer from Penn State late Friday afternoon and committed to the Lions. He'd also been getting interest from Ohio State, Michigan and Akron.
He was named Class 5A first-team all-Indiana after connecting on 13-of-21 field goal attempts his senior year, with a long of 52.