Penn State 2008 Signing Class Rewind

It's all about the signature. - Phil Walter

A look back at the class that provided us with some all time Penn State legends

A little while back, bscaff posted a 2009 Penn State Signing Class Rewind.  While this rewind covered a lot of seniors who just graduated, it also covered much of that magical senior class of the 2012 team.  I decided that the rest of that graduating class was worth looking back at as well; thus brings us to our 2008 Signing Class Rewind.

When all was said and done, this class finished 43rd in the Rivals team ratings (Rivals is the go to site for going back in time in the recruiting world, if you were wondering why we are always using their data for things such as this).  Joe Paterno's squad had four 4* players on their way in, complemented by six 3*s and four 2*s.  All in all, the class only took 14 total commits (for the sake of comparison, Alabama took 32 that year).  This was definitely one of the more successful classes in terms of hitting on their highly rated players, for the most part.  So without further ado, let's jump to the board.

Pos Player Hometown Stars (Rivals Rating) Recruited By
LB Brandon Beachum Youngstown, OH 4* (6.0) Jay Paterno
DE Jack Crawford Richland, NJ 3* (5.7) Larry Johnson
OL Mike Farrell Pittsburgh, PA 2* (5.1) Tom Bradley
DB D’Anton Lynn Celina, TX 3* (5.7) Kermit Buggs
DE Pete Massaro Newtown Square, PA 3* (5.5) Ron Vanderlinden
LB Michael Mauti Mandeville, LA 4* (5.8) Ron Vanderlinden
OL DeOn’tae Pannell Birmingham, MI 3* (5.6) Ron Vanderlinden
WR A.J. Price Reston, VA 2* (5.3) Larry Johnson
OL Matt Stankiewitch Schuylkill Haven, PA 3* (5.7) Mike McQueary
DT James Terry Brandywine, DE 2* (5.2) Larry Johnson
DT Brandon Ware Harrisburg, PA 2* (5.2) Larry Johnson
TE Mark Wedderburn Springfield, PA 3* (5.7) Ron Vanderlinden
LB Mike Yancich Washington, PA 4* (5.9) Tom Bradley
LB Mike Zordich Youngstown, OH 4* (5.9) Jay Paterno

Breaking down the 2008 by recruiter gives us the following..

Recruiter Number of Recruits
Larry Johnson 4
Ron Vanderlinden 4
Jay Paterno 2
Tom Bradley 2
Mike McQueary 1
Kermit Buggs 1

2008 was a year in which the recruiting numbers per coach worked out to be what Penn State fans were accustomed to at the time.  Heavy doses of Larry Johnson and Ron Vanderlinden, with little accents of JayPa and Tom Bradley.  But this isn't what you want to hear about.  Before you make the jump down to the player analyses, check out this 2008 Signing Day Recap.  I can wait for you to read it, don't worry.

Welcome back.  Now let's jump into our player by player report!

Brandon Beachum

Starz: 4

What We Said Then: "After whiffing on Broderick Green and LeSean McCoy in 2007 and losing Austin Scott it was imperative that we bring in at least two blue chip running backs this year.  It looked like we have succeeded in that when Brandon Beachum and Michael Shaw gave their verbal commitments last summer.  Beachum is the big physical running back that can run you over while Shaw was supposed to be the smaller skat back brought in to change the page."

Graduation: Yes

What I Say Now: Beachum finished his Penn State career with 361 total rushing yards (including bowl games), and two touchdowns.  While he clearly never panned out to his standing as the highest rated recruit in the 2008 class, he did provide a nice run every now and then.  Most importantly, Brandon was arguably the best blocking running back on the team.  Even if his impact wasn't always felt on the score sheet, he laid more than a few blocks that helped keep plays alive, and that's one of the most important jobs a running back has.

Mike Yancich

Starz: 4

What We Said Then: "Mike Yancich was a beast on the camp and combine trail last summer."

Graduation: Yes

What I Say Now: Mike wasn't able to be much of a contributor from a statistical standpoint for the Nittany Lions, but he was one of the key leaders of that magical 2012 senior squad, and was named a captain for his loyalty.  While he ended his Penn State career with only 13 total tackles, he also accounted for a touchdown on a play that I will never forget as long as I live (despite the outcome of the game)...

Mike Zordich

Starz: 4

What We Said Then: "Mike Zordich was one of the top linebacker prospects in the state of Ohio."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: You know well the legend of Mike Zordich.  From walking out with Michael Mauti to pledge his allegiance to Penn State football that fateful morning, to running in the two point conversion in the amazing comeback versus Northwestern, Michael Zordich will go down as a Penn State legend.  During his first three years as a Nittany Lion, he rushed for a mere 83 yards.  He would more than triple that number during his senior season, when he picked up 301 yards on 80 carries.  Zordich made his name as a blocker though.  He was constantly driving his man away from the play, and creating huge lanes for his halfback to plow through.  Mike is currently a member of the Carolina Panthers, but unfortunately missed his entire first pro season with a torn ACL.  For what it's worth though, the Panthers were reportedly impressed with what they saw out of him.  Here's to a full recovery by one of our favorite Iron Lions.

Michael Mauti

Starz: 4

What We Said Then: "Mike Mauti blew the coaches and observers away at the US Army All Star Game."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: I could write for days about Mauti, but instead of doing that, I'll just leave this.

Just search "Black Shoe Diaries Michael Mauti" on google and read one of our 1,000's of articles about him to get more information.  Mike is currently a member of the Minnesota Vikings along with former Penn Stater Gerald Hodges.  And in case you were wondering whether or not Michael Mauti shows any mercy, the answer is no.  Michael Mauti shows no mercy.

Jack Crawford

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "Defensive end Jack Crawford has very little football experience, but he has tons of raw physical talent, so the chances are there that Larry Johnson can mold him into a beast."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: Larry Johnson was indeed able to mold Jack Crawford into a force off the edge of the defensive line.  As a senior, Jack picked up 6.5 sacks to go with 40 total tackles.  While there was surely potential for even more from Jack, he performed quite well considering he did indeed come into Penn State with essentially no football experience.  Jack was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL draft, and is still on the team today.

D'Anton Lynn

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "I have no complaints with D'Anton Lynn. This kid is a winner having led his team to the state championship. He was also highly recruited by USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Nebraska, and Wisconsin among others."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: D'Anton really stepped up for Penn State during his senior year, eliminating the opposing number one receivers more often than not.  In particular, I vividly remember him completely shutting down AJ Jenkins of Illinois, who would go on to become the San Francisco 49ers first round pick the following draft.  D'anton finished his Penn State career with four interceptions, and was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Jets.  The last time his name was heard in a newsworthy sense was when he fought Joe McKnight, so that's something at least.

Pete Massaro

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "Pete Massaro wasn't highly recruited either, but then again suburban Philadelphia isn't considered a recruitng hotbed by most schools not named Temple or Rutgers. He has good heigh at 6'4", but he'll probably redshirt to add some beef to his 245 lb frame."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: Massaro struggled with injuries throughout his career as a Nittany Lion, but finally managed to get back on the field in 2012 before he moved on with his life.  He has his finest year in 2010, when he finished with 37 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three and a half sacks, and a forced fumble.  Massaro was always reliable when he was out on the field, and he showed true toughness in recovering from two ACL tears during his time at Penn State.

Deon'tae Pannell

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "I would be lying to you if I told you I was overly enthused about out tackles, DeOn'tae Pannell and Mike Farrell. Offensive lineman are the hardest position to project so it's possible these kids may turn out to be All Americans someday, but they were clearly not our first options at the position."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: The 2008 BSD staff pretty much hit this one in the head in terms of Pannell.  While he performed fine in his given time, especially playing in ten games during hie junior season, he was never all that special.  Often times offensive line recruits surprise us the most, but sometimes they end up being exactly what they look like (unfortunately this most often happens when they are ranked lower).

Matt Stankiewitch

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "We hit a home run with Matt Stankiewtich rated as one of the best center/guard prospects in the country."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: Matt Stankiewitch was a stud for Penn State.  He was a consistent force at center, and was the clear leader of the offensive line.  He was also one of the prominent senior leaders for the 2012 team.  He was more than adequate at pass blocking and run blocking, and often made the guards playing along side of him better than they truly were.  Matt was originally signed by the New England Patriots as an undrafted free agent, and eventually ended up as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he is still employed today.

Mark Wedderburn

Starz: 3

What We Said Then: "Along came Mark Wedderburn, younger brother of former PSU player Floyd Wedderburn and an outstanding tight end prospect that loved Penn State, so we took him.  We should be set at tight end for several years now."

Graduated: Not from Penn State

What I Say Now: Mark transferred to Kutztown in 2010, surely due to this BSD article telling him he needed to step up.

Mike Farrell

Starz: 2

What We Said Then: "I would be lying to you if I told you I was overly enthused about out tackles, DeOn'tae Pannell and Mike Farrell. Offensive lineman are the hardest position to project so it's possible these kids may turn out to be All Americans someday, but they were clearly not our first options at the position."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: Mike Farrell received plenty of playing time over his junior and seniors seasons, both at left and right tackle.  He was also a three time academic All American.  He was part of the Penn State 2011 offensive line that allowed a Big Ten fewest 14 sacks on the season.

AJ Price

Starz: 2

What We Said Then: "AJ Price looks like a worthy prospect. He was a late bloomer not gaining much attention until his senior year when he caught 32 passes for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns. But he is the only wide receiver in the class which will make us pretty thin in 2009."

Graduated: Not from Penn State

What I Say Now: Who?

James Terry

Starz: 2

What We Said Then: "Defensive tackle James Terry wasn't very highly recruited, but then kids from Delaware rarely are."

Graduated: Yes

What I Say Now: James Terry never made much of an impact at defensive tackle for Penn State, but he provided quality depth during his time on the team.  During his senior season he played in every game and recorded ten tackles.  He was always there to provide Devon Still, Jordan Hill, and DaQuan Jones with quality snaps as they rested.  A solid team player.

Brandon Ware

Starz: 2

What We Said Then: Wasn't mention in the article.

Graduated: No, transferred to Eastern Arizona Junior College

What I Say Now: Um..who?

**Author's Note- I didn't care about Penn State football until 2010 when I was a freshman.  Keep that in mind.

While this recruiting class wasn't one of the best in the big picture, it did provide us some of the most important student athletes that Penn State has even seen.  Be on the lookout over the next few days, as I'm going to do some broad recaps of major hits and misses for 2005-2007 and 2010-2013.  National Signing Day (Recruiting Christmas) is inching closer and closer.  It's going to be fun, so I hope you follow along for the ride.  Dominate the State.

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