Zayd Issah made his official visit to Penn State this weekend, and before he went home, he was re-committed to the school.
Issah, who is rated as a four-star linebacker by Scout.com, originally committed to Penn State in late June, but reopened his recruitment later in the summer after Penn State was hit with harsh NCAA sanctions. However, after a weekend in Happy Valley, he verbally pledged his commitment to coach Bill O’Brien and the Nittany Lion program on Sunday morning.
Glenn McNamee — Issah’s high school coach at Central Dauphin — said he hadn’t spoken with Issah since his commitment, but was in contact with family members who were with Issah this weekend.
“He loves it [at Penn State],” McNamee said. “The official visit allowed him to be with the players in that kind of way. It was just a real positive weekend.”
Issah picked Penn State over a long list of other schools that included the likes of Oregon, Maryland, Iowa and Virginia, and McNamee said the Lions’ coaching staff had a lot to do with it.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who was Issah’s primary recruiter, along with O’Brien, visited Issah at school within the past two weeks. McNamee said he was in the room when the two Penn State coaches visited and noted they preached to him not only was Issah a good fit for Penn State, but Penn State was a good fit for Issah.
“Even when he decommitted, he still made it clear that Penn State was a place he could see himself going, he just wanted to see how it played out,” McNamee said. “The coaching staff was a big part of it. Coach [Ron] Vanderlinden has a strong tradition there at ‘Linebacker U.’ ”
Brian Dohn, a recruiting expert for Scout.com, called the 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect by far the best commit Penn State has landed since the sanctions.
Dohn added he thinks Issah’s quickness and versatility will aid him at the collegiate level and the linebacker will have a chance to compete for playing time as soon as he steps on Penn State’s campus.
“He’s explosive and his first two steps are very good, which is key,” Dohn said. “His acceleration is good, and he’s shown glimpses that he should be able to get into the backfield and disrupt things there.”
Issah just wrapped up his senior season a few weeks ago and helped Central Dauphin go 10-3. McNamee said unlike some other players who can get caught up in the hype of the recruitment process, Issah was constantly striving to improve.
“When you have a kid that is that talented, sometimes they coast, sometimes they take plays off or just try to succeed on talent alone,” McNamee said. “But he just played so hard on such a consistent basis, right through the very end. That’s something I’ll always remember about him.”
The Harrisburg product was not the only player who committed to the Lions over the weekend. Fellow linebacker Jonathan Walton and defensive back Anthony Smith verballed to Penn State as well, according to Blue White Illustrated. The Free Lance-Star in Virginia also reported late Sunday night that wide receiver prospect DaeSean Hamilton committed to the Lions to push O’Brien’s 2013 class to 17 members.
Walton and Smith bring more defensive depth to the Lions’ 2013 class.
While it’s a quick trip up Rt. 322 for Issah to get to State College, it’s a long journey for Walton. The two-star recruit hails from Daphne, Ala. and is listed at 5-foot-11, 220 pounds.
Walton was also entertaining offers from Minnesota, UAB and Troy, and he and Issah join three-star Brandon Bell as the three linebackers in the Lions’ 2013 class.
On the other hand, Smith is a 6-foot-1 cornerback from Wayne, Pa. and is unrated on major recruiting websites. Smith attends Valley Forge Military Academy and also had offers from Gardner-Webb and Rhode Island.
Hamilton is rated a three-star prospect by Scout. He picked Penn State over offers from schools including Virginia, Virginia Tech, Illinois and Maryland, according to his profile on the site.
Like Issah, many recruits were in State College this weekend for their official visits. A handful of commits and other prospects were on hand at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday to watch the Penn State men’s basketball team defeat Army. The 2012 football team was also honored at halftime of the contest
Recruits can make their commitments official in less than two months, as National Signing Day falls on Feb. 6, 2013.