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Recruiting Update

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With the recent good news of Adam Gress and Curtis Dukes that gives Penn State 14 verbal commitments to date for the class of 2009. Since we're now over half way full in this class I thought it would be a good time to step back and examine how we're doing and look ahead to what we need to focus on going forward.

If you recall back in the spring I went through the team unit by unit breaking down how I thought the scholarships should be allocated. Let's take a look back at the what I came up with. Charts anyone? You're damn right, charts.

Projected 2009 Scholarship Allocation
Position Projected Scholarships Verbal Commitments Remaining Scholarships
Quarterbacks 2 1 1
Running Backs 2 1 1
Wide Receivers 3 1 2
Guards/Centers 2 2 0
Offensive Tackles 3 3 0
Tight Ends 1 0 1
Defensive Tackles 2 0 2
Defensive Ends 2 1 1
Linebackers 2 0 2
Cornerbacks 3 2 1
Safeties 3 3 0
Total 25 14 11

Links lead to BSD unit breakdowns

Now, since I put this chart together back before spring practice conditions have changed. The emergence of some players in spring practice may have given encouragement to the coaches that they may be better off in that position than they once thought. The fine play of Andrew Szczerba in addition to Mark Wedderburn coming on this year may allow them to take that tight end scholarship and use it somewhere else. Like maybe wide receiver to make up for the loss of Chris Bell. And we're so deep with young talent on the defensive line we could stand to take one or to of those slots and go after some more offensive linemen.

Let's go through each position and look at the remaining targets on the board.

Quarterbacks

The addition of The Drake is a huge help, but he's somewhat of an unknown. Nobody denies he's a great athlete, but whether he will make a great quarterback remains to be seen. Many schools that were recruiting him wanted him as a wide receiver. Don't be surprised if he starts out his Penn State career lining up at wide receiver just to get him on the field ala Michael Robinson. But after the 2009 season the only quarterbacks we have on our roster will be Devlin and The Drake at this point, so we need to bring in another guy in this class.

And target number 1-A is Tate Forcier, who from this point forward will be known in these parts as 4CA or T8 4CA because I think it's cool. BSD has deemed it so. 4CA has been holding his cards close to his vest so it's hard to get a read on him. He was supposed to come to Penn State's senior camp but cancelled last minute to take part in a 7-on-7 tournament back home. He speaks highly of the Nittany Lions and recently put out a Top 10 list that had Penn State on it. It's something, but top 10 lists in college recruiting are about as useful as an ice maker on the north pole.

Another intriguing story to watch is that of Kevin Newsome. Newsome was high on Penn State's board in the early going but then he committed to Michigan. Since that time Michigan has landed a verbal from another four star QB and the Wolverines are still actively recruiting T8 4CA. This gives Newsome a big grumpy face and the story goes he has asked Penn State and other schools to continue recruiting him. Stay tuned on this one.

Antone Exum and Morgan Newton are outside possibilities, but I doubt it.

Running Backs

If we don't get another running back in this class I think the coaches will be ok with that. We have Royster, Green, Carter, and Beachum as it is, and now with Dukes we're in pretty good shape. But I suspect we'll still bring in one Derrick Williams type guy: An athlete around 5'11" or 6 feet and 190 lbs that can play running back or line up in the slot receiver. Tavon Austin would be perfect for this role. Penn State is right in the mix for him along with Virginia and Maryland. He lives in Maryland, so we have Larry Johnson and the Maryland bus on our side here.

The only other guys on the board are Brandon Wegher and David Wilson. Wegher is a good all-around back, but the verbal from Dukes may have closed the door for him. We're looking for a burner guy now. Wilson would fit the bill, but he's from Virginia and I get the impression he's staying in ACC land.

Wide Receivers

This was undoubtedly our biggest need going into the spring, and one wide receiver to date is not getting it done.  Brandon Felder looks like a good one, but we need more bodies, and if they could run 4.15 40's with hands like glue that would be good too.

But when you look below the surface things may not be as bad as it seems. If we land 4CA then The Drake's fate is most likely sealed at wide receiver. Likewise, we have a small army of defensive backs in this class making things a bit crowded, so don't be surprised if someone like Derrick Thomas jumps over the line to offense. These guys are great athletes, but again, we need great receivers.

Getting a Je'Ron Stokes or Logan Heastie would have been ideal, but those ships have sailed. Not all hope is lost yet. We're still going after some good targets that are still on the board.

Justin Brown - Good combination of size and speed. He likes Penn State but he wants to see some of our offense this fall before making his decision.

Jaleel Clark - He attended a camp at PSU this spring, and at some point in that visit either he cooled on Penn State or Penn State cooled on him. Now he's looking at Pitt and Missouri and we're probably not in the running anymore.

Christian Kuntz - He just popped up on the radar after getting an offer following a camp visit. His size, 6'4" and 195 lbs, may remind you of Brett Brackett. With his only other offers being Akron, Connecticut, and Buffalo I think we probably have a pretty good chance with him.

Devon Smith - We're playing a cat and mouse game with him. I think we're waiting to see what our other targets are going to do before we offer him. He wins the MVP award at every camp he goes to, but his size has scared off a lot of schools. He's friends with all of our Maryland recruits and has basically come out and said if Penn State offers he won't hesitate in pulling the trigger.

And keep in mind that Tavon Austin may fit in here too should he commit. So while we have some prospects we're looking at, there is no denying that we have not done as well in this area as we had hoped. So far we have missed out on Logan Heastie, Je'Ron Stokes, Shawney Kersey, and Tyree Watkins.

Offensive Line

With three offensive tackles, a guard, and a center already on board you could say our recruiting class is already a good one in this area. But I'm a firm believer that you can never have too much depth, so I'm thinking we have one more spot left, and we have four guys we're looking at. They are in no particular order Nate Cadogen (6'6" 265 lbs), Sam Longo (6'5" 270 lbs), Chris Watt (6'4" 282 lbs), and Peter White (6'4" 342).

Cadogen of course is the brother of Gerald Cadogen, so many believe it's just a matter of time until he verbals. Longo has been playing footsie with us for some time, but many believe he is holding out to see if he can get an offer from Ohio State. Considering how full their class is already I don't think he's going to get one at this point. My guess is we will get both of these guys before the month of August closes.

Defensive Line

Our losses shouldn't be too bad after the 2008 season. Only Josh Gaines graduates, but we will most likely lose Maurice Evans to the NFL if he has another great year. We already landed his replacement with Sean Stanley, a monster of a kid who definitely passes the looks test.

With the emergence of Eric Lattimore this spring and the possible move of Tom McEowen from tackle to end we have plenty of young talent at defensive end. The coaches seem to have three or four guys we're talking to, but I don't get the impression we're going after them very hard. We seem content with Stanley at this point. Names to keep an eye on are Lanford Collins, Anthony LaLota, and Pat Muldoon, but honestly I don't get a good feel from any of these guys.

I don't think we'll take any defensive tackles unless it's a project-type kid. We're just too loaded right now, so until the depth chart thins out a bit expect nothing more than two or three star kids.

Linebackers

Is this possible? We have 14 recruits and not one of them is a linebacker? We're still Linebacker U, right? In the immortal words of Vince Lombardi, "What the hell is going on out there?"

Honestly, I kind of saw this coming. We've taken six four-star linebackers in the past two years. Five of them have four years of eligibility left and three of them will probably redshirt this year. Our stable is a bit full right now with guys waiting their turn. Ironically, our recruiting success is killing our recruiting right now.

The coaches are being very selective in who they offer here, and rightfully so. We've pretty much limited our options to just the best of the best, and that list started out as Dorien Bell, Glenn Carson, Telvion Clark, Jonathan Davis, Jelani Jenkins, and Dan Mason. Bell and Clark are off the table having committed elsewhere. I think Davis is a longshot at this point, but Carson, Jenkins, and Mason are all high on Penn State. If we can get all three of these guys we'll take them, but if we don't get any we'll be ok too. My gut says we land two out of the three.

Defensive Backs

You all know we already have five commits here, but Thomas may move over to wide receiver if we need him there. So I think we're still looking for a pure cornerback. Jordan Love is the guy we really want, and he's narrowed his list to Penn State and Georgia with a decision coming soon.

We already have three safeties locked up, but I think we would make a spot for Travis Hawkins if he wanted it. He's one of the best safeties in the country, and he's from Maryland so you have to like our odds there. Penn State is in his top two or three schools.

Overall Outlook

We're in good shape, but not great. We have addressed a major need in defensive backs and we may not be done yet. We have a quarterback, and though he probably isn't our first choice he'll fill a roster spot and could be devastating in the spread option offense. We have a dynamic running back that looks big enough to handle 25 carries a game. The offensive line features one of the best centers in the country and three pro-caliber tackles. And we got a franchise defensive end. But there is still work to be done.

I want another quarterback. Unfortunately it looks like we're putting all our eggs in the T8 4CA basket right now. I don't understand why the coaches continue to go for broke on one or two guys every year. This has Terrelle Pryor written all over it. Just give me a solid three star guy and I'll be happy at this point. The important thing is we just fill the roster spots with Div. I talent.

We also need wide receivers. Felder looks ok, but we lose three guys after this season and right now there doesn't appear to be anyone on the roster ready to step up and be the guy. Unfortunately our top targets are either gone or not interested in us anymore, so we may end up getting some three star athlete types and just plugging them in there. They may turn out to be great, but I feel like we're rolling the dice here.

Everything else looks ok to me. I wouldn't mind getting another defensive lineman and a couple linebackers, but if we don't I won't lose sleep over it.