The Class of 2013 became official on Wednesday, February 6 as each newly-minted Nittany Lion sent in his official letter of intent. Each young man was a standout in high school, but now comes the time where they must adjust to being just another player fighting for playing time. The state championships, all-state honors and constant praise from everyone in town won't mean a thing at the next level. From here on out the players will need to prove to the coaching staff that they can help put the team in a position to win games while staying out of trouble off the field. It's anyone's guess from here- a walk-on can go on to become an All-American, while that vaunted five-star prospect who everyone was fighting over may never play a down of major college football. Starting with the defensive side of the ball, here are the incoming freshmen we are each excited about to see in the blue and white.
Jeff- Brandon Bell
This is a tough one, because there are a number of quality defensive players coming in with the Class of 2013. But Brandon Bell projects to be the middle linebacker of the future, so it's hard not to get excited about another one of Linebacker U's long list of greats. Granted, Bell hasn't proven his greatness on the field...yet. He is quick, can read the field, and hits like a truck. Give him a year or two with Fitz and Vandy, and I think this will be an easy choice.
Dan- Garrett Sickels
Deion Barnes on one side of the line. Sickels on the other. The quarterbacks of the Big Ten will be on full alert for at least the next two years.
Jared- Neiko Robinson
Robinson's success on the field will be confirmation that O'Brien's recruiting model is an effective way to keep the program afloat as it suffers through the sanction era. Robinson flew under the radar, but is an extremely skilled DB from Florida. By the time the big boys from his home state took notice, the Penn State staff had completely sold him on becoming a Nittany Lion. If the staff can continue to give opportunities to underrated players that will eventually make major contributions, Penn State can find a way to make it through the next few years without suffering through a losing season. Even the most ardent Penn State supporter would have had a difficult time imagining that in July. Also, he hits like a ton of bricks.
Cari- Zayd Issah
Why? Well, for starters, we're LBU, baby! It's always great to keep key in-state talent actually in the state, especially from a school that had a questionable relationship with the previous coaching staff.
But the biggest reason that Issah was a great get, and a player I'm excited about, is perception. Issah committed before the sanctions, then decommitted to keep looking around. Ultimately, he decided that becoming a Nittany Lion was the best thing for him--and that's why I'm excited to watch him play. He didn't let the sanctions ultimately sway him, and decided on the blue and white even after taking a step back. I admire that kind of logic.
Nick- Neiko Robinson
This is largely a curiosity a pick. Some people automatically assume every player from Florida is amazing, but until these guys play in the cold and elements you never know what you've got. Our secondary is our thinnest position from a depth perspective and chances are these guys will all get thrust into duty sooner so we will probably already have some feedback this season.
Bill- Garrett Sickels
Yeah, I know, LBU and all that stuff. But hear me out. He is going to be Deion Barnes's bookend. Like, holy shit. Barnes is a poor man's Jadeveon Clowney, and Sickels has the potential to be the Big Ten's DROY. I'm a sucker for insane pass rushing, and I think it's safe to assume that while Barnes gets double teamed all year, Sickels is going to be laying the pass rushing smack down. And it's going to be fun as shit to watch. Also, I don't think he's getting redshirted, whereas someone like Issah will. Immediate impact.
Remember being too drunk to move? Just sitting there, open mouthed, not knowing your own name, incapable of recognizing shapes, letters or colors? That's all I've got for this question. It's entirely likely that Manti Te'o's girlfriend would have more response to this question than I. Me? Nothing. Not a single synapse. Sorry. Now if you want to talk Papal candidates, hey - I turn into Robin Williams. The old school, hopped up on coke, wearing rainbow suspenders and sweating like a rented mule Robin Williams.
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