James Franklin and his staff are once again pursuing multiple prospects at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa.
Penn State became the latest program to extend a scholarship offer to Lackawanna College safety JaQuan Brisker last week.
A 6-foot-3, 205 pound junior college prospect, Brisker is originally from Gateway High School in Monroeville, Pa. Following his senior season, he held a handful of scholarship offers from schools in the Mid-American Conference, but was ultimately forced to attend Lackawanna due to academic reasons.
“JaQuan is going to be a May 2019 graduate, so he’ll enroll as a three to play two player in the summer of 2019,” said Lackawanna assistant coach Josh Pardini. “Coming out of high school, he had to improve on some things academically. That’s the main reason why he was so lightly recruited out of Gateway. He only really had a few offers from MAC schools and a few other FCS schools. That’s the main reason he was so under-recruited.
“At Lackawanna, he’s been fantastic. He had a 3.5 (GPA) during our midterms. As a safety, he’s been excellent. He’s absolutely the quarterback of our defense. So, he’s been a great student with us, on and off the field."
Like most freshman at Lackawanna, Brisker started the season as a backup, but it quickly became clear to head coach Mark Duda and his staff that they had to get him on the field. That opportunity came in just the second game of the season.
“It’s very hard to start as a freshman for us,” said Pardini. “Brisker was our backup safety weeks one and two, strictly for the fact that he was a freshman and we had some older guys that knew just knew the defense and knew our system better.
“But when it came to ability, it was so noticeable in training camp, so we were always looking for ways to get him on the field. We thought about outside linebacker at one point, but once we went into the second game, which we won pretty handedly, we were able get him a lot of time. He ended up taking his first interception 100 yards for a score. On top of that, the starting free safety got injured earlier in that game. From that point forward, it was basically his job and he hasn’t looked back since. From then on, everyone on the defense, young or old, knew who the best player was in our unit. Whenever we needed a play or needed a stop, he was the guy”
Brisker finished the season with 54 tackles (30 solo, 24 assisted) and four interceptions, two of which he took back for scores. Penn State began keeping tabs on him about midway through the season, but they wanted to check him out in-person before making any moves. Defensive coordinator Brent Pry was able to do that last week.
“(Penn State) really loved JaQuan’s tape,” Pardini said. “I don't think they believed us when we told them he was 6-foot-3. He doesn’t look that big on tape, but he’s a legit 6-3, 205 pounds. I think they really wanted to confirm that with us during this visit.”
However, Brisker isn’t the only prospect that Pry and the staff are interested in.
“We have two really great freshman in JaQuan Brisker and Anthony Whigan,” Pardini said. “West Virginia was the first school to get the ball rolling on those guys, but other schools are starting to take notice now. We knew they were both going to be special, but even knowing that, they still exceeded expectations this season. For Brisker, West Virginia, Pitt and Penn State are the three main offers, so far. I know Maryland is waiting to show him to their head coach [DJ Durkin]. Syracuse has also said that they’d like to see how his grades turn out at the end of the semester, so they may also offer.
“Whigan holds offers from West Virginia, Maryland and Syracuse. He originally committed to Towson out of high school. They really didn’t want to send him here because they knew there was a good chance they wouldn’t get him back. Sure enough, he’s been excellent for us, which is why so many other schools have started showing attention now. TJ [Bradley] was knocked up a bit for us earlier this year, so Anthony got a lot of great matchups and looks during the season. He’ll be the next big-time offensive tackle for us, no doubt about that.”
Whigan attended Great Mills High School in Lexington Park, Md. Like Brisker, the 6-foot-5, 295 pound offensive tackle still has a full season to play at Lackawanna. He'll have three years to play two at the Division I level.
Below are Brisker and Whigan's freshman highlights from this season. Brisker's film is first, followed by Whigan.