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Looking Ahead to 2008

So Signing Day has come and gone, but recruiting season never ends. As the recruiting class of 2007 starts preparing themselves to join the Nittany Lions this summer, the coaches are already moving on to the class of 2008. Some other schools have already started getting verbal commitments. In the coming days and weeks I'll try to keep you informed of what is going on in the recruiting scene. Starting today, let's take a look at Penn State's roster for next year. This will give us a good idea what positions will be major targets for the coaches as they start visiting high school juniors and scouring over hours of video tape. Listed below is a breakdown of each position by class for the 2007 roster.

My first impression looking at this is how small the class is going to be next year. With only nine seniors scheduled to run out of eligibility after the 2007 season, that doesn't open up many scholarships. I figure we will probably see some players decide not to return for their fifth year. There are always some guys who transfer or quit the team due to injury, and some may not return for their fourth year as Justin King is rumored to skip to the NFL after the season. I think the final total of scholarships the coaches will hand out will end up around 16 or 17.

Now couple that with the number of juniors on schedule to graduate after 2008. Remember, you want to look two years down the road. These are the guys we need to focus on replacing now. Given we will have maybe 16 scholarships to hand out and 27 guys who will not be here two years from now the coaches have to be selective and recruit wisely to prevent any major gaps on the depth chart. Not an easy task.

On a side note, take a look at the difference in recruiting strategy between the offense and defense. The defense does a great job of balancing their recruiting bringing in a few guys at each position every year. The offense on the other hand seems to pick one position every year and use all their scholarships to fill it. They go a few years only getting one or two offensive lineman and all the sudden they take six. (Note: In fairness, several players left the team and they signed two JUCO players who appear as juniors on the chart above.) Or they go a few years not going after tight ends and all the sudden they get four. This year they didn't get a single running back or quarter back. Not exactly the way I would do things. But I got off on a tangent there. Thank you for indulging me.

Anyway, assuming Penn State manages to free up 16 scholarships for next year, here is how I see them breaking down the class for next year.

QB - 1
RB - 3
FB - 0
TE - 1
WR - 1
OL - 3 (2 OT's)
DT - 2
DE - 1
LB - 1
CB - 2
Saf - 1

In the days to follow we'll break down each position further and discuss some targets the Lions are already looking at or have offered.