UNIVERSITY PARK, PA (U-WIRE) -- Some could become the next crop of All-Americans to wear the Blue and White.
Others may never see the Beaver Stadium turf on a fall Saturday.
Rest assured, though, many Penn State fans will sit in front of computer screens today, waiting for each and every member of the 2005 Penn State recruiting class to make his official commitment to the Nittany Lions football program.
Today is National Letter of Intent Day, an unofficial holiday for those who following recruiting, but more importantly, it is the day that high school seniors across the nation get to sign their letters of intent, binding contracts which they will fax to their institution of choice.
Up until now, recruits could only make verbal, non-binding commitments.
It will also be an important day for Penn State's 2005 recruiting class.
Though top-10 national recruits Derrick Williams and Justin King are already in the fold after graduating high school early and enrolling at Penn State in January, it could determine if this class is just good ... or among the nation's best.
As of last night, the Lions class of 2005 was ranked 35th according to Scout.com and 29th by Rivals.com.
There are four undecided prospects in particular who could change that: defensive end Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie, Minn., linebacker Jerome Hayes of Bayonne, N.J., offensive lineman Jared Gaither of Greenbelt, Md., and York defensive back Knowledge Timmons, who verbally committed to the Lions on Dec. 23.
But the three-star prospect according to Rivals.com is now wavering on his commitment. Timmons, who is also the defending PIAA 100-meter champion, is still considering his offers, and may sign with South Carolina and new head coach Steve Spurrier.
"I can't pinpoint why he is up in the air right now," said Matt Ortega, Timmons' high school coach.
Ortega said he planned to speak last night with Timmons and Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson, who is recruiting Timmons.
"I hope he honors his commitment [to Penn State]," Ortega added.
Penn State is hoping Gaither -- a four-star prospect according to Rivals.com, who went to the same high school as Williams -- doesn't honor his original verbal commitment to Maryland. The 6-foot-9, 330-pound beast of an offensive tackle will choose between Maryland, Penn State and Florida today.
The Lions will also battle Florida, along with Rutgers and Michigan State, for the services of four-star prospect Hayes. Penn State, Hayes' favorite team since childhood, is considered the favorite after dropping out of the picture almost completely in the end of his junior year.
Fran Ganter had been assigned to recruiting Hayes since his freshman year. Then, Ganter left the coaching staff to take an administrative position in the athletic department and that "turned Jerome off," according to Rich Rodriguez, Hayes' coach at Bayonne High School.
"Justin King did this recruiting," Rodriguez said. King and Hayes spent considerable time talking about Penn State while they were teammates on the East squad at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.
"The turning point was the All-American Bowl when Justin and Jerome were on the same team, and they really got to talk about things," Rodriguez said.
Hayes, who will hold a 10 a.m. press conference to announce his decision, may seem like Penn State's best chance to pick up another commitment on signing day.
Less certainty surrounds the most coveted uncommitted recruit the Lions are after -- Ashley, a four-star defensive end and son of Penn State and NFL great Walker Lee Ashley.
Ashley has been down to four schools -- Penn State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Southern California -- for some time, but his favorite seems to change every time he talks to a reporter.
Ashley's mother, Cindy, agreed that her son has been tough to gauge, even for her, but she said she believes it's down to the three Big Ten schools.
"I think USC is out of it," she said. "But he wants it to be a surprise, so he might be saying that to confuse me."
Ashley will announce his decision today at a 9 a.m. press conference.
(C) 2004 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE