Yesterday we looked at the defensive players in the 2007 recruiting class for Penn State. Today we'll turn toward the offense.
Penn State didn't bring in a single quarterback this year. That's not a bad thing because quarterback isn't a pressing need for the Lions. The Lions are loaded with talent with six quarterbacks on the roster. Morelli has one year left and his backup, Daryll Clark, has three. Last year Penn State brought in two quarterbacks including the highly touted Pat Devlin who took a redshirt this year and still has four years of eligibility left.
Obviously this is the one position where the Lions came up short this year. With Tony Hunt graduating and with Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw leaving after the 2007 season, it was imperative Penn State bring in a blue chip running back this year. For much of the fall it appeared Penn State was going to land [The Player That Is Dead to Me], but Paterno backed off him for reasons I suspect we'll find out about soon enough. When that fell through, the Lions entered the race for Broderick Green late in the game. They made a valiant effort but came up just short.
Penn State should be ok for 2007 with Scott and Kinlaw, and Evan Royster or Brent Carter should do ok beyond that. But after 2007 the Lions will be very thin at running back unless they bring in two or three recruits in the next class.
Penn State has done pretty well in recruiting wide receivers in recent years. They have plenty of depth with players like Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, and Chris Bell. But with the first three I mentioned scheduled to graduate after the 2008 season, now is the time to start looking for their replacements. Remember, you always want to look at your needs two years down the road. Penn State did pretty well with this class.
It's pretty well known that Penn State has long coveted a big physical wide receiver in the mold of Mario Manningham or Plaxico Burgess. This year they brought in two such guys in Jon Ditto (6'3" 221) and Derek Moye (6'5" 195). Ditto may have the frame to play tight end if he puts on some weight. Moye will most likely redshirt to put on some weight of his own.
Penn State was in pretty good shape for tight ends with Andrew Quarless emerging this season and three other guys having three years of eligibility left. Still, the Lions landed a great tight end in Andrew Szczerba. At 6'6" and 250 lbs Szczerba may end up being moved to defensive end or offensive tackle before his career is done.
Probably the biggest need Penn State had was on the offensive line. The group this year was extremely thin, and two of those guys graduated. To complicate things, three younger players with eligibility left decided to leave the team and not return next year leaving the coaches with a serious problem.
Penn State brought in some great offensive linemen last year, but most of those kids are probably still a year away from playing. To fill the immediate gaps the coaches had to find some mature offensive linemen, so they did something they rarely do. The looked at junior college players and ended up signing two of them in Ako Poti and Nerraw McCormack. Both of these guys made the list of top 100 junior college players. They provide instant depth and will probably compete for starting positions. Both have the potential to play offensive tackle.
To plan for the future Penn State brought in some great recruits. The headliners are Stefen Wisniewski and J.B. Walton, who grayshirted this past season. Josh Marks and Quinn Barham also got high marks by several publications. All four of these guys will most likely play guard or center.
All-in-all Penn State did pretty well recruiting for need, but they really came up short in not bringing in a running back with this class. That's the only thing preventing this class from being great. Like I said, you won't see this class at the top of the rankings this year and that's ok. Those rankings are heavily weighted to reward good recruiting at the skill positions, and Penn State wasn't in desperate need of quarterbacks, wide receivers, defensive ends, or cornerbacks this year. What Penn State did and did well was recruit for need. Personally I'm quite pleased with this class. Our next projected rebuilding year is 2009, and this class should give them enough talent to prevent a major drop and should allow them to keep bowling through 2011.