Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Penn State gains linebacker recruit, loses cornerback

Penn State received an oral commitment Friday from a linebacker from Harrisburg but also announced the departure of a junior cornerback for personal reasons.

Penn State gains linebacker recruit, loses cornerback

Penn State football said hello Friday to a recruit who has committed to the Nittany Lions’ freshman Class of 2013 and good-bye to a cornerback, a move that leaves the program dangerously thin at the position.

Zayd Issah, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound linebacker from Central Dauphin High School in Harrisburg, told multiple recruiting web sites that he had informed Penn State coaches of his intent to play his college football in Happy Valley.

Later Friday, a Penn State spokesman quoted head coach Bill O’Brien on Twitter that junior cornerback Derrick Thomas, who had been considered a contender to become a starter in pre-season, “has left the team for personal reasons.”

The departure of Thomas, who played in a total of 13 games the last two seasons while spending much time in coach Joe Paterno’s doghouse, leaves the Nittany Lions with just three scholarship upperclassmen – Stephon Morris, Adrian Amos and Mike Wallace – at cornerback.

Issah, rated four stars by Scout.com and three stars by Rivals.com, is the 14th member of the incoming 2013 freshman class to commit to Penn State and the sixth this month. He received a scholarship offer from Penn State in February but a visit to campus with his parents two weeks ago helped him make up his mind.

“They were impressed,” Issah told ESPN.com. “Penn State is the right fit.”

Issah recorded more than 100 tackles and 14 sacks last season, and rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 31 touchdowns for Central Dauphin.

Thomas, of Greenbelt, Md., had been listed as even with Amos for the No. 1 job at right cornerback after the end of spring practice. Instead, he became the fourth player to part ways with the team since O’Brien took over in January, and joins former West Catholic star Curtis Drake as the second cornerback to leave.

Thomas had academic issues the last two years and also had been cited by State College police for disorderly conduct in an off-campus scuffle in February 2011.

The Lions also have two incoming freshmen and three walk-ons at the cornerback position.

--Joe Juliano

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 20 years, covering college sports, golf and the Penn Relays.

Joining Joe this season will be John Stuetz, an intern for The Inquirer and senior at Penn State majoring in print journalism and marketing. This is John's third season covering the Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A native of Glenside, Montgomery County, John graduated from Cheltenham High School.

For Joe, this will be his fifth season on the paper's Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976 to 1984.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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