Moving along with our look ahead to the 2008 recruiting class we'll look at the running back situation at Penn State today. Like we did with the quarterbacks, let's look at the 2007 roster first.
Sr - Austin Scott (RB)
Sr - Rodney Kinlaw (RB)
Sr - Matt Hahn (FB)
Jr - Dan Lawlor (FB)
rFr - Evan Royster (RB)
rFr - Brent Carter (RB)
Obviously, there is not much depth at running back. Penn State had hoped to bring in a blue chip recruit in 2007, but they struck out on both Broderick Green and [The Player That is Dead to Me]. So now we're stuck with only four running backs. It's not a huge problem for 2007 as long as Scott and Kinlaw stay healthy. But that's like saying your drive from New York to California will be fine as long as your 1983 Chevette doesn't break down along the way. Both guys have been plagued by injuries their whole career. Recruiting wise the bigger concern is 2008 with Hahn, Scott and Kinlaw running out of eligibility after the 2007 season.
Evan Royster was a rivals four star recruit, so he's no slouch. The coaches are reportedly very high on him and were very impressed with his effort on the scout team this year referring to him as a "complete back". But he has also had trouble staying healthy. Hopefully, the redshirt year and an offseason in the weight room has bulked him up and made him a little more durable. He's the front runner for the starting job in 2008 and Brent Carter appears to be a capable backup.
Looking ahead to the next recruiting class, it's imperative that Penn State bring in at least two blue chip running backs. Ideally I would like to see three running backs signed. Unfortunately, the running back talent pool in Penn State's traditional PA/NJ recruiting ground is pretty shallow this year. Penn State is going national in their search for a feature back. They are currently looking at over a dozen of the best running backs in the country. Unfortunately, I don't think they can afford to wait until after the football season to start collecting verbals. If they do they risk striking out again like they did with Green and McCoy this year. I think you will see them lock up one of the best running backs they can find in their traditional recruiting grounds early just to sure up the roster depth. Then they will pressure a good national running back early. If they can get two early verbals from some pretty decent recruits, they can gamble and go after a top 5 running back somewhere and afford to strike out. If they don't have two verbals from running backs by September I would be very worried.
I don't think you will see Penn State pursue a true fullback with this class. In fact, Penn State has not signed a true fullback in a few years. It's a sign of the game changing from the traditional RB/FB backfield to a more 3 WR spread offense style. In short yardage situations teams just plug in a tight end or linebacker nowadays.
Targets Under Consideration
Byronell Arline - 5'10" 225 lb - New Port Richey, FL
Antwon Bailey - 5'6" 195 lb - Washington, D.C.
Ed Imeokparia - 5'11" 189 lb - Blairstown, NJ
Michael Shaw - 6'0" 185 lb - Dayton, OH
Demetrius Bronson - 5'10" 180 lb - Kent, WA
Isiah Jackson - 5'11" 230 - McKeesport, PA
There are more targets than this, in fact there are too many to mention in this space. Please feel free to comment and add any favorites you have.