It wouldn't be signing day without drama. I didn't expect anyone to decommit and pull a shocker on us, and thankfully I wasn't disappointed. All 22 kids that had given verbal pledges stuck to their word, though a few of them took their sweet time in faxing in their letters which always causes some uneasiness. Especially when you're talking about kids that previously decommitted from other schools like Darrell Givens and Shawney Kersey. But everything went smoothly in locking up the kids we knew we had.
But there were obviously some disappointments. Getting Jim Noel would have been nice. He has a rare combination of size and speed that gives him the tools to be a physical shutdown corner. But we already have six defensive backs in this class so we're ok there. Jelani Jenkins chose Florida over Penn State. Disappointing, yes. But program crushing? No. You can't fault a kid for signing with the team that won two out of the last three national championships. And we're loaded with linebackers with Mike Hull already verbally committed for 2010 so we're ok there.
But the big news of the day was the late commitment from Delaware wide receiver Justin Brown. There were a lot of rumblings all morning that he was going to pull a last minute change of heart and go to Rutgers, but ultimately he went with the good guys. The 6'3" 210 lb Brown will make a fantastic addition to the Spread HD offense.
So overall it was a good class. Was it a top five recruiting class? Who knows? What makes a top five recruiting class? A bunch of stars handed out people who devote their lives to chasing down 17 year old kids for interviews and pictures? Whatever.
Ultimately Penn State addressed their needs which were quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver, and defensive backs. What really impresses me about this class is the versatility. They got a lot of kids they can move around and try at different positions like Derrick Thomas, Curtis Drake, and Nate Cadogen. In all we brought in 13 speed guys to make up the wide receivers and secondary. We brought in six guys to mix and match on the offensive line which was another significant need. We also landed one of the nation's top kickers to take over for Kevin Kelly.
Quarterback was a major need even before Pat Devlin decided to transfer. We landed a good one with Kevin Newsome, but if there is one complaint with this class it's that we didn't get another quarterback to give us some depth. Going into 2009 with only two scholarship quarterbacks, one of whom will be a true freshman, makes me nervous. I wish we could have brought in a second tier kid just to give us some depth. Getting two quarterbacks in 2010 will be essential. We already have one with Paul Jones having verballed.
I'm really excited to see what some of these guys can do. I think we'll see a lot of them on the field right away in 2009. Justin Brown, Curtis Drake, Devon Smith, Darrell Givens, Gerald Hodges, Kevin Newsome, Anthony Fera, Shawney Kersey, Sean Stanley, Stephon Morris, and Malcolm Willis all have an excellent chance to play right away. This is truly a great class that will ensure Penn State remains competitive in the Big Ten for years to come.