Signing day is in the books, so with that the BSD staff gives their perspective on Penn State's efforts and results.
How would you rate the 2011 Penn State football recruiting class?
The staff addressed Penn State's biggest areas of need, the lines, by pulling in a lot of guys in those areas. With that in mind, I'd have to call it a relative success. The Nittany Lions are pretty well stocked at the skill positions. Putting people in front of them on both sides of the ball was the objective, and by my estimation, the staff acheived it.
And that's really all I have to say on the matter. I'm sure there will be people that disagree with me based on the star system and whatever, but frankly I could give a crap less. It's a farce, and unless you're one of the top 20 or so athletes in the country, more often than not, your star ranking is based more on how much you or your parents are willing to spend traveling around the country and enrolling in recruiting combines than your actual skill level.
Ultimately, the level an athlete achieves in college is based more on A) his work ethic and B) his coaches' ability to mold him than a few highlight tapes from his junior year of high school. By now, Joe Paterno's staff has shown it can instill A and succeed at B, so really, the fact that it pulled in guys in areas of need and filled up the class is all that really matters to me. If people in whatever sad corner of the Internet want to burn me in effigy as an apologist for saying that, So. Be. It.
How would I rate Penn State's 2011 recruiting class? Poorly, not because of the class itself, but because I don't spend a lot of time studying recruits and so am a poor judge of the relative merits of any given class. With that said, it's clear that every team has needs: Iowa needs players with healthy and robust kidneys, and Penn State needs players that can effectively block the opposing defense. Penn State seems to have effectively addressed its needs.
Penn State signed four offensive linemen and they all seem like strong players. Three of them--guards Angelo Mangiro and Anthony Zettel and tackle Donovan Smith--have four stars and rank in the top twenty for their position according to ESPN. Tackle Ryan Nowicki is no slouch either, opting to travel all the way from his home in Arizona and rebuffing offers from half of the Pac 10, including USC, to play in Beaver Stadium on Saturdays.
Given the strength of the 2010 recruiting class and the fact that this class seems to have filled whatever holes remained, it's fair to say that Penn State has the talent to compete for the Big Ten championship and arguably the BCS championship in the not too distant future. Whether the coaching staff will be able to get the most out of that talent remains to be seen, but if the objective of recruiting is to enroll players who will help you win games, Penn State clearly met its goal.
Recruiting is the ugly underbelly of our favorite sport. What coaches have to do to get recruits is ugly. What players have to do to get offers or even make a decent college choice is often ugly. And that's to say nothing of the fans whose ugly characterizations make the whole ugly charade even uglier than before they chimed in. So since Mike's given us this ugly task, I'm gonna put on my Ugly Hat and give it the ugly answer it deserves. Drink! I said ugly.
This recruiting class sucks. Not because there's only 16 future players. Not because we didn't get Savon Huggins or Ben Koyack or Ishaq Williams. Not because its average stars rank only 24 by Rivals and 17 by Scout. But because of how we got it. Joe Paterno didn't visit a single one of these 16 guys in his home! While Joe was getting eye surgery, fighting off dental attacks on his neurosystem and canceling speaking engagements, our petty coaching staff squabbled and couldn't get sign-off on targets. We only had one verbal in May, three in June and didn't get the 5th until November. And during a 7-6 campaign on the field? With decent portions of our fanbase sharpening pitch forks, quoting ATL Djs and warming up the farewell jet, it was all just terrifically irresponsible.
(/reaches hand to hat...) Was it relevant that our two previous classes were very well-stocked? Perhaps. (/shifts hat slowly...) Was it pertinent that we only had 16 schollies to give in a year described by all three services as not nearly as talented or deep as next year's pool? Probably. (/removes Ugly Hat with dramatic Army Bowl halftime histrionics, raises voice...) Do we seem to have a number of talented, interested and interesting young football prospects, in positions of relative team need, signed on for the time of their lives at one of our favorite places on earth? Why, yes, we do! So, how do I rate this class? SHYQUAWN! Welcome aboard, fellas! And best of luck!
Failure. Penn State's recruiting will continue to be a failure until they are producing Top 5 classes each year. We always say stars don't matter and that coaches recruit the players that fit their system, etc, etc. Do we as fans say that because we don’t get the 5 star kids Alabama, Ohio State, Auburn, and Florida State get? If Penn State was bringing in 5 star kids by the truckload each year, would we as fans say they don’t matter? I think we would be standing on our Creamery box and pounding our chest saying how great our class was/is.
Ohio State finished with another Top 5 class. There is a reason Ohio State is in a BCS game almost every year – 1. recruiting, 2. Coaching. I love our walk-on program. Love the tradition behind it. But if Penn State is ever going to win another national championship they are either going to have to get very lucky or start recruiting more. Obviously we won’t have a head coach on the recruiting trail until Joe retires, but when we do, I think Penn State will be in the Top 10 on an annual basis (not every 4 years).
BSD Mike Says...
Here is what I wrote a year ago when I was predicting how this class was going to go.
Now, it's going to be a small class. The coaches are going to have to be very careful about who they offer. Nailing the assessments and evaluations is going to be critical. Because of its size, this is not going to be a top ranked class. With all the skill positions we've taken the past few years, it will most likely be a meat and potatoes class full of linemen. The recruiting services are not going to love it. So get that in your head now.
Some of you did not heed my warning. Don't get hung up in stars and rankings. Penn State needed linemen in this small class, and they did a very good job in meeting that need. So this is a very good class in as far as meeting Penn State's needs.
However, that doesn't mean they get an A from me. I have to admit I was pretty worried from about April through November. It sure looked like this class was going to be a disaster. I figured they would fill out the class, but I thought they were going to end up reaching for some kids that probably didn't deserve offers from a Big Ten school. They managed to come through with some very quality recruits at the end. So I was pleased with the way they finished, though I didn't care for the way they got there.
It would have been nice if they had gotten a defensive tackle like Ishaq Williams. I also wish they had brought in another defensive back or two. Do we really need three wide receivers in this class?