Nick Cross — a four-star safety and the No. 55 player in the country, per 247 Sports — was a Penn State target on National Signing Day, but decided to wait to announce his decision. Well, nearly a week later, the former Florida State commit made his choice.
Cross picked Maryland on Tuesday, spurning the Seminoles and Nittany Lions.
Cross, the No. 1 player from Maryland and No. 4 safety in the 2019 cycle, would have been a major signing given Penn State’s situation at the position. Nick Scott ran out of eligibility, Ayron Monroe and Isaiah Humphries announced transfer decisions last month, and rising redshirt senior Garrett Taylor will be gone after 2019. Lamont Wade stayed at Penn State after entering the transfer portal, and incoming JUCO signee Jaquan Brisker has promise — but depth is still a serious concern for assistant coach Tim Banks and the safety room.
The 6-foot, 206-pounder was one of the most sought-after defensive backs in the country. Cross fielded offers from 38 schools, including Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma. With those opportunities on the table, the safety chose Florida State, committing to the Seminoles on Sept 3.
However, Cross obviously did not sign with Florida State during December’s early signing period. Willie Taggart went 5-7 in his inaugural season in Tallahassee and did not qualify for a bowl game, ending the Seminoles’ 36-year streak of reaching the postseason.
Given the Seminoles’ fluid coaching situation, Penn State had hopes of signing Cross. The safety visited prior to National Signing Day, and 247 Sports national expert Steve Wiltfong changed his Crystal Ball pick to Penn State in the build-up to NSD.
But, instead, the DeMatha standout is staying in-state to play for new Terps head coach Mike Locksley.
Cross, who had 92 tackles as a junior, ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash in July at The Opening Finals and posted a 38.5-inch vertical at The Opening Regional in April. Brian Dohn of 247 Sports compared Cross to former Penn State safety Adrian Amos and projected him as a future second- or third-round pick in the NFL draft.
Of course, it’s too early to tell if those predictions come true. But Cross is a top-tier prospect and one of the best safety recruits in the country. And now Penn State — after thinking he might end up a Nittany Lion — has to face him.
Next season, Penn State and Maryland square off on Friday, Sept. 27, in College Park.