The 2010 class has been in the books, officially, for a couple of months now, and the 2011 class is, hopefully, beginning to get some traction (look for the siren to ring on or before April 25). However, before Penn State fans heard of Paul Jones, Mike Hull, or Ben Koyack, an all star class complete with five star recruits and badass names put pen to paper in February 2009. I thought it would be fun to look back on the 2009 Recruiting Class and take a look at where these guys are today.
Casual Penn State Fan knows the big names on Penn State. Casual Penn State Fan knows the big faces on Penn State. What Casual Penn State Fan forgets are the rest of the players that we all followed just over a year ago. Sure, Joe Student will tell you that our backfield is going to be strong this year because Evan Royster is back, and the quarterback position is questionable because Kevin Newsome is untested and two true freshmen are coming in behind him. How many Joe Students, though, can tell you the names of the two 4* linebackers from the '09 class, or the names of all the linemen we took?
Some of these guys were players from the get-go, some are destined for great things, and some aren't even with the team anymore. But, for you Casual Penn State Fan, here is what you need to/should know about the 2009 Recruiting Class...
Five Star recruit (stars by Scout):
Eric Shrive (OL) - redshirted the 2009 season because of a knee injury; will push for playing time in 2010 at one of the tackle spots, most likely right tackle where he seems to be a leading candidate for a starting (or immediate backup) position; he will be a starter on the OL by next year (2011) if not this year, and will be a solid force for as long as he stays in blue and white
Four Star recruits
Gerald Hodges (LB) - enrolled in January, ripped Andrew Sczerba's head off in April, and played sparingly during the 2009 season; some people want to see him move to safety, but Hodges will likely stay at linebacker, despite the overabundance of talent at LB and relative dearth of talent at safety; should push for playing time in 2010 because of his experience, but will probably be on the second team, at least at the beginning of the season
Glenn Carson (LB) - forced to take a grayshirt in 2009 because he literally broke his back before the season; will fight with no less than eight other linebackers for playing time that will be sophomores or younger (PS - did I mention we're going to be good at linebacker for quite awhile?)
Justin Brown (WR) - received valuable playing time in 2009, splitting punt return duties with the other Designated Fair Catchers, and also caught five balls on the year; has all the tools to be a serious contender for the title of "great Penn State wide receiver" but seeing as how we were spoiled with three of them in recent years, Brown has big shoes to fill; look for him to make an immediate impact in 2010 as the punt returner du jour, but also as a second team WR behind Derrick Moye and Graham Zug, or even in the slot when Penn State is not running the Power I or Wing formations
Kevin Newsome (QB) - frontrunner for starting QB job, enrolled last January to learn as much as possible from DC17; from the waist down, he is lethal - quick, agile, and able to keep his head once outside of the pocket, but above the waist, he has (by all media reports) accuracy issues and also seemed to come down with a slight case of the Butter Finger Syndrome in 2009 (granted it was entirely in scrub time, fumbling thrice and losing one); if Paterno can find a way to fuse Newsome's legs onto Paul Jones upper body, well that'd be something
Darrell Givens (CB) - in what could have been the initial premise for a Law and Order episode (the special guest is always the killer, btw), Givens orally committed to the Buckeyes, then signed an LOI with Penn State, then was told to take summer classes to become academically eligible; after summer school, and with "his bags packed", Givens was told "don't bother" by the administration and was forced to decommit from the Lions
Mark Arcidiacono (OL) - redshirted 2009 season; will likely push for playing time at guard, either side, and given the fact that three different players started at left guard in 2009, he arguably has as good a chance as anyone
Curtis Dukes (RB) - redshirted 2009 season; go here, and skip to the :12 mark to see what 1/2 of the future of Penn State running backs looks like (see Redd, Silas for the other half); he is built like Jerome Bettis and has speed to boot; some people say he has or should be moved to fullback, but I disagree; think Thunder (Dukes) and Lightning (Redd) in Blue and White in a couple of years, not that girly Blue and Red and White and Gray of the NY Giants
Three Star recruits
Anthony Fera (K) - possibly the second highest polarizing spring battle (ok, maybe not) is that of kicker, with some people rooting for Cap1 Bowl hero Colin Wagner and cannon-legged Texan Fera; burned his redshirt in 2009, and with Wagner having the leg up (see what I did there?) in 2010, Fera has one more year to learn how to kick before assuming his three year starter role in 2011; many fans will be clamoring for Fera to at least assume kickoff duties
Ty Howle (OL) - redshirted 2009; likely a/the backup center in 2010, and will have to work hard to maintain that position with highly touted 2010 recruit Miles Dieffenbach coming in (to a likely redshirt); Blue Royster Cult likely to adopt new look in coming years
Sean Stanley (DL) - saw significant playing time as a freshman, ending with two sacks and 15 tackles; will certainly make the two-deep as a defensive end, and will push Eric Lattimore and Jack Crawford for serious playing time; look for this kid to be the "next big thing" on LJSr.'s vaunted front line, unless of course Crawford becomes the "next big thing" as I expect him to be, in which case Stanely will be the next "next big thing" after this "next big thing" - get it?
Gary Gilliam (TE) - redshirted 2009; the staff flirted with the idea of moving Gilliam to DE, but he will stay at TE for now because of the greater need, with only two other TEs currently on roster (and one highly touted one on the way); probably won't make much of a splash at the position unless he comes out with a freshman year like Andrew Quarless did a few years back
Derrick Thomas (DB) - redshirt 2009; is he a corner, or a safety? all signs point to a promising career in one of those positions, but first the staff must decide which position that is; likely signs point to Thomas being a CB, potentially seeing nickel experience in 2010, but likely being a two-deep CB behind whatever combination of Chaz Powell/Stephon Morris/D'Anton Lynn sees the starting lineup
Jordan Hill (DL) - 12 tackles and one sack in 2009; poised for great things on the interior defensive line; with Tom McEowen gone and BWare constantly in the doghouse or McDonald's, Hill should really push for time, especially in LJSr.'s rotating tackle positions; expect him to be a household name soon, and with Sean Stanley above, expect the entirety of the defensive line to be strong for four years (but that's like saying expect the Pirates to lose...its just going to happen)
Stephon Morris (DB) - like Derrick Thomas, he came in and played in 2009, earning the nickel position by the end of the season; likely a starting corner in 2010, depending on where Lynn ends up how quickly Chaz Powell can be effective on defense
Shawn Kersey (WR) - redshirt 2009; stuck behind an increasingly talented WR depth chart; will have to fight to make the two-deep, but will likely be a playmaker in a few years with Justin Brown, Curtis Drake, Devon Smith, etc.
Adam Gress (OL) - redshirt 2009; has impressed in spring practices, and has been rotating in and out of the starting lineup for one of the open tackle positions; look for him to battle the aforementioned Shrive for a spot on the right side, or look for him to fill holes if the offensive line carousel takes a few games to find a solid lineup
Curtis Drake (WR) - saw time at slot WR in 2009, ending the year with 8 catches; will likely remain in the slot to begin 2010, but will certainly feel pressure from other young WRs (see Brown, Justin; Kersey, Shawn; Smith, Devon); very solid receiver in the mold of a Deon Bulter
Stephen Obeng-Agyapong (DB) - redshirt 2009; infamous non-smiler (please don't point out the irony of calling SOA a non-smiler and then linking to a smiling SOA) will be pushing anyone he can in the secondary for playing time, with fans evenly split on which position he should/can play; he likely ends up fighting for a corner spot, but his future is anyone's guess
Brandon Moseby-Felder (WR) - less famous brother of the architect; redshirt 2009; another in the heralded young group of WRs that is poised to be a serious playmaker; reportedly has nasty speed and at 6'3" is actually one of the taller young guys
Malcolm Willis (DB) - redshirt 2009; other than the non-smiling, he is in the exact same situation as SOA, except Willis likely projects as a safety with his bigger size; with a smaller depth chart above him, look for Willis to make a push for playing time early, especially if the projected lineup fails to mesh well
Nate Cadogan (OL) - redshirt 2009; brother of Gerald; like Shrive and Gress above, will be fighting for an open line spot, most likely at tackle; will probably not see the starting lineup this year, but should push for the two-deep in 2010
Devon Smith (WR) - caught some passes, returned some kicks in 2009; supposedly has incredible speed and will hopefully find himself in at least one kick return starting position; the dreads are gone, probably per Paterno rules, but what's left will also push for time in the slot position and other two-deep roles at WR
Two Star recruits (don't knock 'em)
Frank Figueroa (OL) - redshirt 2009; will find it hard to crack the two-deep in 2010; projects at interior offensive line, but could be moved if needed; no relation to Franky Figs (that we're aware of)
John Urschel (OL) - redshirt 2009; see Figueroa, Frank
Christian Kuntz (WR) - redshirt 2009; source of many future inapproriate jokes (cross-reference Beaver Stadium); see Brown, Justin; Kersey, Shawn; Smith, Devon; Moseby-Felder, Brandon
Michael Wallace (DB) - redshirt 2009; see Willis, Malcolm; SOA; Thomas, Derrick; Morris, Stephon
Well that was fun. Sorry, I kind of lost interest at the end and sort of mailed it in. Oh, and I probably missed a guy or two (or all the walkons), so don't sue me. Or do. I don't care. Hopefully the guys at the end will teach me a lesson by winning multiple conference and national championships.
As you can see, the class was DB and WR heavy, with a smattering of OL. That fruit should be coming to bear in the next couple of years. Until then, as Tarvold says, "VICTORY!"
EDIT: I forgot to call someone out. Timmy, this is your first warning. Live up to your "I need to comment more" promise or suffer the consequences.