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Penn State 2011 Recruiting Class Roundup

Signing day has come and gone without too much drama. Tomorrow your BSD staff will give their perspective on how Penn State did in meeting its recruiting needs. Today, let's see what other people are saying. recruiting analyst Matt Alkire thinks Penn State got a gem in Bill Belton.

 "Bill Belton might be the best wide receiver I’ve seen in the Northeast region," said Matt Alkire, Eastern recruiting analyst for "Mechanically and technically, he is phenomenal. Bill could turn into an absolute playmaker."

ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill thinks Penn State did a fantastic job at recruiting the offensive line.

The Lions also received commitments since Christmas from four-star offensive linemen Anthony Zettel and Donovan Smith. They joined Angelo Mangiro (’s No. 3-ranked guard nationally) in giving Penn State its second consecutive class filled with line contributors.

"They’ve done a fantastic job on the offensive line," Luginbill said. "Those three guys are all highly graded."

ESPN's Adam Rittenberg points out the lack of skill players isn't a concern if all the skill players they hauled in 2010 work out the way they should.

Analysis: The class certainly doesn't match up with its predecessor, which ranked as the Big Ten's best and 11th nationally in 2010, but it's also not the disaster many predicted for much of the fall. Penn State already has the skill players to take the next step, but it needed bodies for both lines and this class provides them. If the 2010 class meets lofty expectations and this class fills gaps, Penn State should be in great shape.

Linebacker-U says Penn State took advantage of a year where they had to overcome a shallow local talent pool and limited scholarships to offer by focusing on the trenches.

Penn State hauled in heavy numbers along the lines, including highly-touted prospects like Mangiro, Barnes, and Smith. I said it earlier this year: When a team knows it's facing a tough recruiting year, the best thing to do is recruit the trenches. Penn State did that, and I can nearly guarantee it will pay off over the next four years. This class was not a waste by any stretch of the imagination.

Sean Fitz of Lions 24/7 agrees that Penn State should see a major upgrade at defensive end out of this class. rated Barnes, Oakman and Zettel as four-star recruits (out of five). Barnes is ranked as the sixth-best weakside end, and Zettel the sixth-best strongside end.

"Defensive end is definitely the strength of this recruiting class," (Sean) Fitz said. "I think [defensive line coach] Larry Johnson will have a lot of talent to work with in the future."

But not all of the reviews are good. Bob Flounders of Penn Live points out there was one really big fish that got away.

How did a Brooklyn guy, Joe Paterno, not close the deal on a Brooklyn five-star kid, defensive end Ishaq Williams? Somehow, it happened. I'm told Penn State thought the 6-5, 225-pound Williams coming to State College was a done deal. But in mid-January, Williams announced he was going to Notre Dame, no doubt taking a good portion of PSU's projected 2012-2014 pass rush with him.

"Absolutely, he is the one that got away,'' (Sean) Fitz said. "You can go back before the start of the season. Penn State thought it had him.''

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review takes an interesting perspective. He thinks Penn State is going to be teh sux because they don't have any players from Florida.

Penn State has ended its season on New Year's Day in Florida the past two years. But among their Big Ten brethren, the Nittany Lions may be the least familiar with the Sunshine State.

Every other conference team — including Nebraska, which begins play in the Big Ten next season — had at least three players from football-rich Florida on its 2010 roster. Penn State had none.

That likely will not change today on national signing day. Penn State is expected to receive 15 letters of intent from high school players across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Michigan, Indiana and even Arizona. Barring anything unforeseen, the Nittany Lions will not receive letters from players in Florida.

Penn State officials declined to comment.

Wow. He called Penn State looking for comment and everything. That's some real thought-provoking investigative reporting there. I could do an entire blog post on why recruiting Florida doesn't make much sense for Penn State at this time, but that'll have to wait for another day.

Lastly, the Bleacher Report dives deep into the numbers and comes to the conclusion that Penn State's class is no good, there's not enough stars and stuff, man.

The Nittany Lions have a relatively weak 2011 recruiting class, with only two players featured in ESPNU's 150.

To make matters worse, their recruiting class only features 11 players who are at least 3-star athletes, none of them 5-star recruits. Penn State has one of the worst recruiting classes in the Big Ten—what gives?

Actually, if we look at the team rankings, Penn State ranks sixth in the Big Ten and 33rd nationally. Not awesome, but last time I checked sixth is in the upper half of a conference that holds 12 members. But Rivals uses some goofy ranking system that puts a lot more emphasis on skill players. We have noted before that this was not a class heavy on skill players because Penn State loaded up on skill players last year. Rivals also rewards large classes over smaller classes in their rankings. Penn State didn't have many scholarships to give out this year, so they were at a disadvantage from the start in this regard.

Here is what's interesting. If you look at just the average number of stars per recruit, Penn State is right there in the hunt. The average PSU recruit has 3.31 stars. This ranks them third in the conference just behind Nebraska who averaged 3.35 stars. So tell me again how this is a lousy recruiting class?

More analysis from your BSD staff to come tomorrow.