Penn State football: Two linebacker recruits pick Nittany Lions

gciprian@centredaily.comDecember 9, 2012 

Central Dauphin’s Zayd Issah wanted back into Penn State’s recruiting class.

The coaching staff was willing to save his spot.

A blistering recruiting weekend ended with four players, including Issah, committing to Penn State following campus visits.

Daphne (Ala.) linebacker Jonathan Walton and Valley Forge Military Academy defensive back Anthony Smith joined Issah in announcing their decisions Sunday morning.

On Sunday night, Mountain View (Va.) wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton committed to Penn State, according to the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Va. Hamilton also visited State College this past weekend.

Securing another commitment from Issah represents the weekend’s biggest triumph.

This marks the second time Issah has chosen to attend Penn State. He initially committed last June but he re-opened his recruiting process after the announcement of NCAA sanctions against the school the following month.

Recruited as a linebacker, Issah has the size and speed to play almost any position. He played linebacker and amassed more than 3,000 career rushing yards for Central Dauphin, which won the 2011 PIAA Class AAAA title. Issah played through an injury to collect 80 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks as a senior.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Issah is rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com. Oregon was among the other schools heavily recruiting him.

He is the first player in coach Bill O’Brien’s tenure to leave and return to a Penn State recruiting class.

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof used southern ties to secure a commitment from Walton, who also held an offer from Minnesota. Roof worked at Auburn from 2009-11, giving him contacts in Alabama and other southern states. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Walton is rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.

Adding Issah and Walton gives the class three linebackers. Brandon Bell of Mays Landing (N.J.) committed last summer. Valley View’s Nyeem Wartman was the lone linebacker Penn State signed last February.

Walton is one of four incoming recruits from the deep south. Alabama defensive lineman Parker Cothren, Florida safety Neiko Robisnon and Georgia defensive back Kasey Gaines are the others. Robinson’s Northview team captured a Florida state title last Friday.

The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Smith had no scholarship offers from a BCS-level program until receiving one from Penn State this past weekend. He joins Robinson, Gaines and H.D. Woodson’s Jordan Smith to give the class four defensive backs.

Hamilton’s commitment late Sunday represented an added bonus. Hamilton caught 64 passes for 1,073 yards as a senior. The three-star recruit selected Penn State over Duke, Illinois, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He joins quarterback Christian Hackenberg and offensive lineman Tanner Hartman as the third Virginia prospect in the class.

Penn State has received commitments from 17 players. The program is limited to signing 15 athletes during the next four years because of the sanctions, although players who enroll in January count against 2012 recruiting numbers.

Iowa Western Community College quarterback Jake Waters and Clairton star Tyler Boyd are two of Penn State’s top remaining targets.

Waters is also considering offers from Kansas State and North Carolina State, and Alabama and Texas have recently expressed interest in him. O’Brien is expected to visit Waters this week.

Boyd is ranked one of the nation’s top 100 recruits by Rivals. Clairton, which has won 62 straight games, meets Dunmore in Friday’s PIAA Class A final. Pitt and West Virginia are also involved in the intense battle to land Boyd.

Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter @cdtguy.

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