Top uncommitted Pa. prospects weigh options

It is not just the Penn State commitments mulling their future after the NCAA hammered Penn State football with bowl bans and scholarship reductions Monday. Some of the Nittany Lions’ top in-state targets are also contemplating whether to continue to consider Penn State.

Running back David Williams (Philadelphia/Imhotep Charter) and athlete Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton) were both high on Penn State for the last several months, and the Nittany Lions were on the short list to land both of the prospects not even two weeks ago. The two were among Penn State’s top remaining targets, and Williams arguably target No. 1.

Following Monday’s news of a four-year bowl ban and massive scholarship reductions, Boyd and Williams are both re-evaluating where the Lions stand on each’s leaderboard.

“It was crazy,” said Williams, No. 123 in the ESPN 150 and No. 6 in Pennsylvania. “I was high on Penn State.”

The 6-foot-1, 192-pound back has had a changing leaderboard for the last few months, but Penn State was one of only two or three teams that always remained on his list. When asked for his leaders now, Williams did not mention Penn State. California, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina and Wisconsin are his five favorites, with Arizona State and Ohio State also in contention.

The Lions are not completely off Williams’ list, though. He plans to call running backs coach Charles London on Monday night.

“I want to see what they think, see what their mindset is and how they adjust,” Williams said.

Boyd, who is right behind Williams in the state rankings and No. 160 in the ESPN 300, was at work when the sanctions were announced, but he received enough text messages to know the severity of the punishment by the time he saw them for himself. Boyd is not dropping Penn State either as of yet.

Like Williams, he also plans to get in touch with the staff, but the bowl ban, which would last the first three years of his career if he were to go Penn State, has him worried.

“I seen that and was like ‘That’s a no-go,’” Boyd said. “I want to go somewhere I can make bowl games. I know how people felt about the USC thing. It was like ‘Ah, that’s weak I don’t want to go there.’ It’s a bad thing right now.”

A Western Pennsylvania native who is less than an hour away from Pittsburgh, Boyd has the people around him and fans of Pitt and West Virginia, his leader, are already in his ear. The two-way star at receiver and cornerback will not listen to others when it comes to making a decision about dropping Penn State, however.

“I want to do my own thing,” he said, “but I don’t really know it looks bad like I said.”

A key part for Boyd will be whether other top commits such as No. 1 quarterback Christian Hackenberg, fellow Western Pennsylvania four-star prospect Dorian Johnson and ESPN 150 tight end Adam Breneman stick around. Breneman already said he plans to stick with Penn State after talking with coach Bill O’Brien.

Hackenberg is a big reason Boyd was so high on the Lions to begin with.

“We got that real strong relationship down. That was a real strong come up,” Boyd said. “Now it’s going down the drain.”

Although a West Virginia lean, the Lions were making a strong push for Boyd over the summer. That progress has since been wiped away, and the Lions are just barely hanging on in Boyd’s recruitment as of Monday afternoon before talking with the staff.

“I think they’re erasing off my list,” he said, “but I’ll keep them around.”

Penn State lost four-star cornerback Ross Douglas Monday morning shortly after the sanctions were revealed. ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Webb decommitted over the weekend, although his decommitment was not a direct result of the sanctions.