So far, it’s been a better offseason than it was a season for Penn State’s football program.
The Nittany Lions added two more notable pieces to future rosters, one for 2021 and the other for 2022, over the weekend.
Cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, who missed most of 2020 with an injury or other medical issue, announced Saturday he is coming back for a fifth college season.
Castro-Fields made third-team all-Big Ten in 2019, and honorable mention all-conference in 2020, despite playing in only three games. He accepted an invitation to this month’s Senior Bowl before announcing that he was coming back.
Next year’s Lions should be deep and talented at cornerback, where starters Joey Porter Jr. and Keaton Ellis return along with Marquis Wilson, who started one game and played often as a nickel corner.
Due to the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing 2020 seniors to return next year. Castro-Fields was one of eight Lions who took part in Senior Day ceremonies last month.
Of the others, OL Will Fries and DE Shaka Toney have announced they are turning pro, DT Antonio Shelton has entered the transfer portal, and DE Shane Simmons said he is ending his football career. Safeties Jaquan Brisker and Lamont Wade, and C Michal Menet have not yet announced decisions.
The 2022 recruiting class got stronger Friday when Mehki Flowers, a wide receiver/athlete from Steel-High, announced his verbal commitment.
Flowers is a four-star prospect, ranked 121st in the country, 15th at WR and fourth in Pennsylvania in the class of 2022 by the 24/7 Sports composite rankings. His offers are an eclectic bunch, including the likes of Nebraska and Arizona State, but also Morgan State and James Madison.
Some Power Five schools may have been turned off by Flowers’ desire to play offense and defense in college. He plays receiver, defensive back and returns kicks for the Rollers, who won the 2020 state Class A championship.
“I really want to play both sides, and the school that I am going to is telling me I will be able to,’’ Flowers told PennLive’s Greg Pickel last week, before he announced for Penn State.
Penn State’s 2022 recruiting class includes eight verbals, all of them four-stars, and ranks second in the country, behind only Ohio State, according to 24/7.