The Year of the Class of 2013 is officially upon us, even if Signing Day is roughly 50 weeks away. Now that Coach O'Brien and his staff can give Penn State their full attention, expect recruiting to pick up rather quickly. Sure, the coaches will be meeting with their current players and working on installing new schemes. But with no actual football for a month or so (Blue-White game is April 21, so work 15 practices backwards for your beginning of spring practice date), recruiting will be the topic du jour in Lasch, and rightfully so.
As we outlined yesterday, this class could end up being anywhere from 15 to 25, with a number of different factors affecting the number.
So to keep you in the loop on who those recruits might be, we've got a new approach this year. You've already seen some of the recruit interviews, which will continue throughout the year as we introduce you to the prospects as well as keep up with their recruiting process. Additionally, this ever-changing weekly update will help you keep an eye on who Penn State is keeping an eye on, though we obviously don't know the full extent of the list of staff targets. Finally, we'll have a monthly mailbag, if you have any questions about recruiting. As our coverage grows, hopefully so will your interest in said coverage. If you do have any questions, please send me an email (in my profile) and at the end of each month, we'll highlight some of the questions received.
After the jump, THE RETURN OF THE BIG BOARD...
Penn State Recruiting Class of 2013
Estimated Class Size: 15-22
(* - Prospects with a verbal offer)
1. *Ryan Burns (Stone Bridge (VA))
2. *Christian Hackenberg (Fork Union Military Academy (VA))
3. Kevin Olsen (Wayne Hills (NJ))
4. Caleb Scepaniak (Seton Catholic Central (NY))
5. Damion Terry (Erie Cathedral Prep (PA))
Others: Tyler Cogswell (American Heritage (FL)), John O'Korn (St. Thomas Aquinas (FL)), Boeing Brown (Brookfield (CT))
Burns and Hackenberg are the top targets here, with Olsen a close third. Each of these three rank in the Top 10 Pro-style quarterbacks at 247Sports (and Boeing Brown ranks in the Top 20). The staff will be pushing hard to get one of these guys on board as the elite signal caller this class needs. Hackenberg grew up in PA, and will be on campus February 18 for the Penn State junior day, along with other prospects.
Running Backs (1-2)
1. *Derrick Green (Hermitage (VA))
2. David Williams (West Philadelphia Catholic (PA))
3. Ty Isaac (Joliet (IL))
4. Richy Anderson (Johnson (MD))
5. DeVeon Smith (Howland (OH)
Others: Austin Brown (FB) (Easton Area (PA))
The top three backs here are all Top 20 runners in the country. Isaac would be the big pull, but Green and Williams aren't too shabby themselves. Williams is a Philadelphia product from the same high school as current Nittany Lion Curtis Drake. Green has said in the past that OSU was a top school, and he is friends with current Buckeye Curtis Grant.
Wide Receiver (1-3)
1. *Robert Foster (Central Valley (PA))
2. *Uriah LeMay (David W. Butler (NC))
3. Ryan Switzer (George Washington (WV))
4. Kyle LaPorte (Piscataway (NJ))
5. Myles Nash (Timber Creek (NJ))
Others: Shaquille James (West Philadelphia Catholic (PA)), Laquon Treadwell (Crete-monee (IL)), Delando Johnson (Calvert Hall College (MD)), Brian Lemelle (Bishop McDevitt (PA))
Robert Foster is the exact type of recruit that the Penn State staff needs to work on to keep in-state. Unfortunately, he's also a recruit who is essentially set on heading elsewhere. As we reported earlier, Foster and OH QB Malik Zaire may be a package deal to Ohio State. If it's not OSU, expect a number of SEC schools to be in play for Foster. A couple to keep an eye on, that might actually come to Penn State, are Switzer and Johnson. The Calvert Hall College standout could end up at a number of different positions (including LB, DE, or Safety).
Tight End (0-1)
1. *Adam Breneman (Cedar Cliff (PA))
Like last year at the defensive end position (though Evan Schwan did join the class at the end), this position only has one target for Penn State. Landing Breneman, especially early on in the year, and it will be a great addition to the class. SHould Breneman choose elsewhere, I don't see Penn State taking a tight end in this class, given the current depth chart. Then again, if O'Brien's Penn State offense even slightly mirrors his New England offense, this could change.
Offensive Line (2-4)
1. *Patrick Kugler (North Allegheny (PA))
2. Nick Arcidiacono (Archbishop Wood (PA))
3. Jaryd Jones-Smith (West Philadelphia Catholic (PA))
4. Mike McGlinchey (William Penn Charter (PA))
5. Kyle Bosch (St. Francis (IL))
Others: None at the moment, but offensive line is a hard position to recruit. Expect many additional names to rotate through this list.
Along with wide receiver, this position has the widest commit range, due in large part to the curent roster. Depending on what happens during and after the 2012 season, the need for offensive linemen may go up. As for the makeup of this position, Penn State is in need of a solid tackle prospect, as well as at least two interior linemen.
Defensive Tackle (1-2)
1. Justin Moody (George Washington (PA))
2. *Greg Webb (Timber Creek (NJ))
3. Henry Poggi (Gilman (MD))
4. Poet Thomas (Detroit Country Day (MI))
Penn State took four players here in 2012, so taking more than 2 is probably out of the question. However, and as stated before, given the nature of likely position changes, it's possible the staff will recruit a couple more DTs, with the expectation that either they or members of the 2012 DT haul will move.
Defensive End (2-4)
1. *Dajaun Drennon (Timber Creek (NJ))
2. Jonathan Allen (Stone Bridge (VA))
3. *Wyatt Teller (Liberty (VA))
4. Alquadin Muhammed (Don Bosco Prep (NJ))
5. TaShawn Bower (Immaculata (NJ))
Depth will be slightly thin in 2013, with both 2012 starters moving on and only a handful of guys behind them. Outside of shoring up the secondary depth, signing an elite pass rusher is the most important recruiting item in 2013. A force in the backfield is something that cannot be understated. Compare the past PSU defenses with the last couple of years, where DE production has fallen off slightly.
1. Buddy Brown (Williamstown (NJ))
2. *Ben Gedeon (Hudson (OH))
3. Tim Kimbrough (Warren Central (IN))
4. *Mike McCray (Trotwood-Madison (OH))
5. Michael Deeb (American Heritage (FL))
Others: Zayd Issah (Central Dauphin (PA)), Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing (PA))
Linebacker U has only taken two linebackers in the last two years, and two starters will be gone after 2012. The top end of this range could actually go higher, as signing multiple linebackers is going to be key for Ron Vanderlinden's depth chart. Given what is expected to be Ted Roof's new style of agressive corner play, the linebacker position will be more important than ever in blitzing, containing the backs, and getting pressure on the quarterback. There are a number of quality linebackers in this class, hopefully Coach O'Brien can land a few of them.
Defensive Back (3-4)
1. Kendall Fuller (CB) (Good Counsel (MD))
2. Eli Woodard (CB) (Eastern (NJ))
3. Nadir Barnwell (CB) (Piscataway (NJ))
4. *Reon Dawson (S) (Trotwood-Madison (OH))
5. Kirk Garner (S) (Good Counsel (MD))
Others: Tim Harris (S) (Stone Bridge (VA)), Delando Johnson (S) (Calvert Hall College (MD)), Delton Williams (S) (Erie Cathedral Prep (PA))
The defensive back positions are pretty deep in this year's recruiting class; conversely, the positions at Penn State are dangerously thin, and are very bottom-heavy in that there are a lot of younger, untested players on the roster. 2011 and 2012, while productive in quantity, did not provide the top-level talent that Penn State was looking for. Hopefully Coach Butler can mold what he has into star backs, but like at quarterback, look for PSU to target some elite corners and safeties in this class.
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NOTE: A major tip of the hat goes out to user 'brubby', who graciously created the graphic design you see at the top. Given the nature of this coverage, there aren't a lot of acceptable photos we can use, given SBN's photo agreements and policies. Since this will be a recurring post, I needed a nice banner to use on a weekly basis, and brubby came through like a boss. Thank you again, good sir.