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February 24, 2014

Nittany Lions host three Monday

Could Monday be a commitment day for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions' Class of 2015 recruiting efforts?

With three highly-rated prospects expected to be on campus for unofficial visits -defensive end Ryan Buchholz, linebacker Jake Cooper and running back Andre Robinson - certainly, the opportunities are going to be there.

In fact, both Buchholz and Cooper have been on a type of 'commitment watch' since picking up their offers on Feb. 5.

Rated by Rivals.com as a three-star defensive end, the 6-foot-6, 230 pound Buchholz acknowledged that Penn State was his favorite school when he received his offer and, following a Penn State junior day visit on Feb. 15, the reviews were even more positive.

"Ieven told Coach Franklin that I didn't feel that comfortable with the old staff when I was here a couple times in the past. Now, the new staffis amazing and it feels like family," Buchholz told BWI's Ryan Snyder. "Coach Gatties, Coach Shoop, Coach Franklin, all of them were awesome."



Cooper, meanwhile, is also rated as a Rivals.com three-star inside linebacker, and though he's already racked up a dozen offers - including the likes of Boston College, Northwestern, Syracuse, Pitt and Virginia - Penn State has stood out from the crowd.

Having previously established the Nittany Lions as the team to beat, Cooper reiterated his interest in Penn State following a visit to Happy Valley just one week ago.

On a day that saw Cooper get to know new Penn State head coach James Franklin and his assistants as well as some of the Penn State players, Cooper came away unmistakably impressed.

"When I first got there, the real cool thing was that they had every single coach waiting for me in the lobby when I got there," Cooper told BWI's Ryan Snyder. "So, I met everyone right when I got in there. That was pretty cool. After that, I went in there and met with Coach Shoop and Coach Pry and we basically just went over the itinerary for the day and talked back and forth about a bunch of things. It was some real blue-collar talking, some real down to earth conversations.

"I then went on the tour of everything. The locker room, the weight room, I even put the jersey on and everything. It was great."

By the end of the day, Cooper revealed his return trip to Penn State that was in the works for one week later.

"Before I left I sat down with Coach Franklin again and I gave him my word that I'd be back next Monday to meet with them again," he said. "I have to think about some things, but there could be some good news after that visit."

Of course, for as much as possible verbal commitments from both Buchholz and Cooper will excite Penn State's coaches and fan base, the unofficial visit for Rivals.com four-star running back Andre Robinson is equally intriguing.

Though Robinson is not expected to make a verbal commitment anywhere anytime soon, having recently picked up an offer from Ohio State and with recruiting attention mounting, the Bishop McDevitt prospect's visit could be an early opportunity for Penn State to differentiate itself from the Buckeyes and offers that include Louisville, Minnesota, Northwestern, Pitt, Syracuse and Virginia Tech, among others.

In an update with Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic recruiting analyst Adam Friedman on Thursday, Robinson indicated that, even with the verbal commitment of fellow four-star running back Saquon Barkley to Penn State last week, his interest level in the Nittany Lions is still high.

"Saquon Barkley's commitment doesn't really affect my views on Penn State too much," he said. "I know I'm going to have to compete wherever I go. I look at it as a positive thing and that there will be someone there to push me and work against me. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm going up to Penn State on Monday and on March 21."

Blue White Illustrated will have complete reactions from Penn State's Monday visitors following their trips.





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