ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg recently wrote about the biggest needs of everyone in the Leaders Division and, no surprise here, his focus as far as Penn State is concerned is on the lines.
Offensive line: The Lions began addressing this need with last year's class and will continue to do so with the 2011 crop. Getting the offensive line in order is the biggest key to Penn State reclaiming a place among the Big Ten title contenders. Penn State loses standout guard Stefen Wisniewski and will have more departures after the 2011 season, so building depth is paramount.
Defensive line: Penn State lacked a dynamic pass rusher in 2010 and could bolster the end spot, but it can't neglect the defensive tackle position, either. Ollie Ogbu departs and Devon Still will be gone after the 2011 season. Although Jack Crawford returns at end, the depth there could be enhanced through recruiting.
Eight of Penn State's 15 recruits are either offensive or defensive linemen. For a small class, you'd have to say the coaches have done a pretty good job of addressing both areas for the most part. Despite the hysterics over the quarterback position, Penn State is pretty well set at the skill spots on offense. The secondary should be very good in 2011 and the young linebackers another year along in their progression. If the lines can get better, the ceiling for Penn State might be a lot higher than most people seem to think at the moment.
Post-Gazette On Recruiting
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Musselman recently took a look at Penn State's improved recruiting class and talked to a recruiting analyst about it.
With its recent surge, Penn State sits at No. 34 in Scout.com's 2011 recruiting rankings, with two top-100 players, six four-star recruits and seven three-stars.
Rivals.com has the Lions at No. 35 nationally, with one top-100 player, five four-star prospects and seven three-stars.
"Penn State is really starting to come on and things don't look so bleak now," said national recruiting expert Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports and MaxPreps.com. "It's still not a great recruiting year, but it is much better than it looked during the season."
The class is still a long way from getting people excited a week before signing day, but at the very least, it looks like the staff has avoided the unmitigated disaster many feared heading into the holidays. There are some pretty good prospects in the class now, or so the recruiting experts say, so things are looking up.
Signing day is coming up soon, by the way, so stay tuned to see how everything shakes out.
The Daily Collegian's Emily Kaplan caught up with the men's basketball team yesterday to talk about the team's time off since the Purdue game. Many welcomed the respite, but one is ready to get back after it.
For senior Talor Battle, the time off actually had the opposite effect. Battle said if it were up to him, "weeks off between games would not exist."
The senior said the loss to the Boilermakers is still stinging in his mind, and all he wants to do is get back on the court and erase that memory.
"It definitely was a break, but it actually kind of stinks," Battle said. "You lose a heartbreaker and then you have the whole week to think about it, so I’m anxious to just get back out there in a game. I just want to play."
The Lions will need that fire if they're going to win both games on this home stand. The Iowa team the Lions will face Wednesday night is coming off a win over Indiana and has finally tasted a little success. The Hawkeyes would like nothing more than to hand Penn State another embarrassing and perhaps NCAA Tournament crushing loss as they did late in 2008-2009. Then, of course, Wisconsin comes to town, a team that has owned the Lions in recent years. The Badgers are ranked No. 15 and would represent Penn State's biggest upset yet if the Lions can pull off the win. And just in case you needed something else to get pumped.