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July 27, 2004One of Penn State's top concerns for its Class of 2009 is at wide receiver, and there one of the Nittany Lions' biggest targets is Nyan Boateng, a 6-foot-2, 186-pounder out of Brooklyn's Lincoln High.
This past weekend, Boateng made a trip to Las Vegas for the adidas 64 AAU basketball tournament where his Juice All-Stars team lost in the quarterfinal. But the weekend before that, he spent some time in Happy Valley on an unofficial visit to Penn State.
"I was there for two days," he said. "I loved it when I was there. I really loved it. I got there and as soon as I got there we went straight to the stadium. Coach [Mike] McQueary, the wide receivers coach, and [assistant coach] Brian Norwood showed me the field. It was big, I was impressed.
"Afterwards we met up with the other coaches and the academic people. I had a meeting with Joe Paterno. We had fun. We sat down and ate and we talked."
He said during his meeting with the coaches, including Paterno, they discussed what his role would be should he decide to choose Penn State.
"We talked about the situation they have for me there," he said. "They want me to be able to come in and be a guy able to make an immediate impact, right away. They said they would take care of me and everything else. I like the academic reputation of Penn State and I like Joe Paterno himself."
A fellow Brooklyn native, Paterno impressed Boateng and his uncle, who accompanied him on the trip to Penn State.
"I was very impressed," Boateng said. "My uncle, he's an old guy too. They went on chatting and they knew the same people. We had a really good time. He's a nice guy and a down-to-earth guy."
This past weekend Boateng got an invitation to the 2005 U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio in January. Last year he participated in the junior combine there.
"Tom Lemming called," he said. "It was a great honor... I want to be one of the top players in America. If you think you're a top player you need to be there."
Two other players for whom Penn State is in hot pursuit, Justin King and Derrick Williams, also got invites to the game.
Early this year it seemed as if Boateng might be focused on solely playing football in college. But also a well-regarded shooting guard, he is now likely to play both football and basketball. He has received a number of hoops offers, including UNC, Clemson, Va. Tech, Memphis, Florida and Boston College, and serious interest from schools such as Connecticut and Syracuse.
"That's something I want to do," he said. "I want to play two sports in college. I'll go to a place where they would let me do both. That would be a good situation for me."
He added that Penn State's basketball coaches have been in touch.
"Yeah, they're recruiting me," Boateng said. "My uncle talked to them because I couldn't talk to them. My people talked to them and [Penn State] they think very highly of me and they like me a lot. If I decide to go there that would be a good situation for me. I know the coach there is new, but I don't really know that much about Penn State basketball."
Prior to the adidads 64, RivalsHoops.com analyst Tim Watts wrote, "Although he has 32 football offers and many consider him the next great college wide receiver New York guard Nyan Boateng has perhaps as much of a future on the hardwood as the gridiron. Boateng, 6-foot-2, is the fastest and most explosive athlete at the camp and adds a pretty jumper with range to make him a complete offensive threat. He is a defensive stopper who has no problem pushing up from baseline to baseline."
Boateng said he isn't quite ready to make a decision where he will take his talents.
"Probably in December," he said. "Right now I just want to take my time and go through my visits. I don't want to regret anything. I was thinking about committing early, but now that I'm getting new offers and new looks I just want to take my time."
Boateng lists his football favorites as Maryland, USC, Iowa, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Penn State. He said he's still sorting through the hoops offers.
Last year, Boateng was All-Area after catching 44 passes for 940 yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games. He is rated a four-star prospect and the No. 9 wide receiver in the nation by Rivals.com.