Blue White Roundtable: Alabama Week Edition
September 7, 2011 – | 1 Comment

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Derek Dowrey and Austin Johnson Commit to Penn State

Submitted by on June 25, 20118 Comments

Penn State held a camp this weekend, and, as so often is the case, bringing a number of prospects onto campus boded well for the Penn State coaching staff. Not only do JoePa and crew get to make their pitch to some of the big-time names on the board, they also can use the time to evaluate some of the fringe prospects, and decide who’s worthy of an offer.

Today’s commitments appears to be among the latter cases.

BWI has confirmed that Winchester (Va.) DT Derek Dowrey has committed to #PennState.
BWI has confirmed that Richland (N.J.) DT Austin Johnson has committed to #PennState
Image Credit: North Virginia Daily
We’ll start with the bigger name: Dowrey had received some interest from Penn State over the past few months–and he’d reciprocated in kind–but there’s only so much a coaching staff can glean from game film and recruiting stars. It’s when they bring these kids on to the field and see the kind of athletes they are that the coaches can decide whether they really want a player in the Blue and White.

But really, don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard much about Derek Dowrey, or if you hadn’t ever heard that name come up. Unlike many of the Nittany Lions’s early commitments, and their other targets, Dowrey is something of an under-the-radar type. To wit: neither Scout nor Rivals has got around to evaluating him. But don’t take that to mean he’s a complete unknown–in addition to what must have been a recently received Penn State offer, Dowrey also received a scholarship offer from West Virginia, as well as a host of smaller schools, such as East Carolina, Ohio, and Richmond.

As referenced above, Dowrey is a defensive tackle, and far be it from me to question Larry Johnson’s evaluative skills, considering he’s been just about the best DL coach in the country since coming to Penn State a little over a decade ago. Dowrey’s certainly got a body that translates well to the next level, at 6’3, 280 pounds he’s already got the size to play in the NCAA. And he was pretty darn good in high school last year, registering 145 tackles and 10.5 sacks from the noseguard position en route to “Defensive Player of the Year” honors for all of northern Virginia, and a spot on the all-state team.

From the beginning, it appears Dowrey had his heart set on becoming a Nittany Lion. A West Virginia blog, reporting the Mountaineers’ extension of a scholarship offer to Dowrey, noted that Derek had visited Penn State three times–so this must have been a lucky number four. It’s always good to see a kid really want to don the white and blue, and evidence of that is just how quickly he jumped on board.

Austin Johnson is another defensive tackle, and one who’s seemingly even more anonymous. Sure, his name is a bit more common, but it’s hard to sift through all the other “Austin Johnsons” and find the one who’s a defensive tackle from New Jersey.

Like Dowrey, the major recruiting services are yet to take a look at Johnson (Rivals and Scout), but he’s received interest from some regional schools. Villanova had extended an offer, and so too, according to Scout (who has Johnson listed as an offensive guard), had Johnson’s hometown Rutgers. Other sources indicate that Syracuse and Boston College had also shown interest. He’d attended an Under Armour scouting camp in Philadelphia last month, so you can get a good read at his measurables–starting with the 6’4, 276 pound frame, and ending with 17 reps on the bench press, a 5.31 40-yard dash, and an 8’1 broad jump. As soon as the coaching staff offered Johnson, he too jumped on board to his dream school.

Here’s some video of Johnson–it’s not embeddable, so you’ll have to go to an outside site. Make your own judgment–I see someone who, at the very least, is a big body, a sure tackler, with good quickness.

From Lions247:

“I’ve just been going to a lot of camps lately, and Penn State was my dream school,” he said. ” Once they put [the offer] out there, actually they had no idea I was coming to camp but I was supposed to contact a coach but I didn’t. They offered me and I took it the day of, I knew that’s where I wanted to go. It’s my dream school. I love it.”

Given a few recent commitments that have not gone Penn State’s way–see: Muller, Chris–it’s never a bad thing to see a kid jump on board, even if he doesn’t have too many stars next to his name. We can’t find any highlight video of either player, but it’s safe to say that the coaching staff saw something they liked from them. Welcome, Derek and Austin, and we can’t wait to see you in 2012 or 2013. I know many “fans” on the internet will be flinging criticism to and fro, but I’ll trust a staff with, what, 200 years of combined football experience more than anonymous star-gazers on message boards. There’s still plenty of room in what should be a large, quality class for some of the bigger names to jump on, too. And when it comes to defensive linemen, I’ll never question the judgment of Larry Johnson.

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