- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
Every week, NittanyNation will pose five questions to a recruit, player, alum or commit about all things Penn State.
This week's subject is Jeremiah Clarke, a defensive lineman out Alexandria (Va.) T.C. Williams who holds five FBS offers -- including one from Penn State. He received an offer from PSU on Thursday and initially planned to visit this weekend, but the staff's heading on vacation, so he'll visit another time in the near future.
NittanyNation: It seems like you're pretty interested in the Nittany Lions. Where would you rank your interest in them right now?
Jeremiah Clarke: Oh yeah, they're in my top three. It's them, N.C. State and UVa. The interest is high in all three schools, but I like Penn State a lot because of Coach [Larry] Johnson. It'd be an honor for me to play with them. They wanted me to get up as soon as possible. I've never been to Penn State, so it would be a great experience.
My top three right now is pretty much set. Maybe I'll add two more to make it a top five, but I don't really want to go that far from home.
NN: You grew up as more of a college basketball fan of Duke and Maryland and you've never visited Penn State, so how is your interest so high in the Nittany Lions already?
JC: Well, I didn't really grow up as a big fan. But my defensive line coach at T.C. Williams played under Johnson when he coached here, and he was telling me a lot of things about him. I did my research on him, too, and we try to model our D-line after him and his scheme.
And it's also the academics. I want to go to an engineering school, and Penn State's a good engineering school. Plus, it's just the passion. I know the Sandusky scandal messed some things up, but I've never stopped liking Penn State football.
NN: Do you have a timetable for your commitment? Is this something you'd really like to wait on until after the season, or are you hoping to make a decision sooner rather than later?
JC: I'm doing mine by the end of the summer, before football season starts. I decided I will commit to a school by then so I can focus on my grades and in case I get injured or something. That way, I won't have to worry about it, and it'll probably be a fallback if I do get injured. Also it's just the pressure getting off me so I don't have to worry about it.
NN: You went to a Nike SPARQ combine at this time last year, where you weighed in at 218 pounds and ran a 5.42-second 40-yard dash. It sounds like you've added some weight and some speed; how'd that come about?
JC: That was kind of my first camp, so I really didn't do as well. I'm going to a Nike training camp in April, so I plan to do better. I didn't do as well at some camps last year because, right after that one, I got in trouble grade wise and kind of got fat. So I weighed 255 and put in a lot of work to add muscle tone.
I play basketball, and I've only been adding good weight. I weighed in at 272 pounds at Virginia's junior day. And, right before the season last year, I ran a 4.89 when I was at 255 -- so I'm probably still at that now or a little slower.
NN: Some schools are recruiting you as an offensive tackle, while others are looking at you at defensive end and defensive tackle. Where does PSU see you, and what are your strengths/weaknesses at that position?
JC: They talked to me about it Wednesday and [Thursday]. It's for D-tackle right now. They're probably not going to move me to an end. My strength is really speed off the ball, and my weakness -- or something I want to get better at -- would have to be stopping the run.
I'm better at stopping the pass, so I'm working on the run. And this past season, I had a broken left hand, so I played six games one-handed and still got 11.5 sacks. Those are decent numbers, so I just want to stay healthy.
5dBrian Bennett and Josh Moyer