The weekend before National Signing Day is becoming one of James Franklin's favorite times of year to pull together a group of highly touted underclassmen. This year, he and the staff are hosting some of the very best prospects from both the 2016 and 2017 class. One of the most challenging things about recruiting, is that you always need to be thinking for the year ahead, while you're still thinking about the year you're in. The 2016 class is already off to a fantastic start, thanks to the staff's efforts to stay ahead of the game. Five star DE Shane Simmons, high four star RB Miles Sanders and four star QB Jake Zembiec are the foundation for what could end up being an even more impressive recruiting class in 2016 than 2015.
One of the staff's big focuses in 2016, will be to continue to build back depth on the offensive line. As Penn State fans saw this last year, said depth can make or break a season very easily. One of the offensive linemen that they covet most to help rebuild that depth is offensive tackle Will Fries (Cranford, NJ), who plays football for one of my high school's rivals, and will be part of the group visiting this weekend. Despite our differences in high school allegiances, the three star prospect and I sat down to talk about the upcoming visit.
What would you say you're most looking forward to about your visit this weekend?
I'd probably say getting to see the coaching staff again and really getting a feel for what it's like to be at Penn State again, and get to meet some of the other guys there.
Aside from those things, is there anything specific you're looking forward to seeing?
I'm excited to get a chance to see the campus again, but the first time I was there I got to see the business building and stuff like that, so we'll see what happens when I get there.
What was your favorite part of you last visit?
I'd say getting to sit down with Coach Franklin and him offering me was really an incredible moment.
Are you excited to be on campus with many other top 2016 and 2017 prospects?
Yeah, it's really just a good thing to be around and meet some of the other top talent around the area, so it should be a fun time.
Which schools are contacting you the most right now?
I'd say Penn State, Rutgers, Clemson, Boston College, Syracuse, just to name a few.
Tell me about your junior season.
We had a good season, we went 11-1. We lost in the championship. Obviously want to finish it up next year, but overall we had a strong season and we're going to be fired up for next year.
What do you feel are your strengths and weakness?
I think my biggest strength is playing nasty and always finishing my blocks, and something I need to work on is getting a little bit quicker and stronger.
Is there an area where you feel like you really took a step forward this past year?
I thought that getting bigger and stronger helped me out a lot this year.
Any sort of timeline with your recruitment?
I'm just kind of taking my five visits and I'll take a bunch on un-officials this year, and we'll just see what happens.
Thanks to Will for taking the time to talk, we wish him well on his visit this weekend and throughout the rest of his recruitment.
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Along with Fries, there will be plenty of other top prospects visiting this weekend. The list is as follows...
- 2016 QB Jake Zembiec (★★★★) (Committed)
- 2016 DE Shane Simmons (★★★★★) (Committed)
This tweet has nothing to do with his visit, but I thought it was funny.
- 2016 RB Miles Sanders (★★★★) (Committed)
- 2016 C Connor McGovern (★★★★)
- 2016 CB Damar Hamlin (★★★★)
Hamlin will be making the trip with friend and Penn State commit, Miles Sanders.
- 2016 OT Jauan Williams (★★★★)
- 2016 WR Jordan Fuller (★★★★)
- 2017 RB D'Andre Swift (★★★★)
There are plenty of others who will be making the trip as well, but these are the names that have been discussed the most so far here on Black Shoe Diaries. You can check out a full list over on Lions247 (who almost always has some sort of deal going on for new users or free trials, so I suggest giving them a shot if you enjoy following recruiting). You can also check out Ryan Snyder and Tim Owen's very detailed breakdown of everyone attending, over on BWI.
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Lastly, if you are unaware, National Signing Day for the 2015 recruiting class is Wednesday of next week. Starting tomorrow, Black Shoe Diaries will be chock-full of coverage of every possible angle of the even you could imagine, so whether you're a fan of recruiting or not, this is the one time of year when you can pay attention and understand everything as if you were following along with us all year. So please, bookmark the Signing Day story stream when it goes active tomorrow, and learn all you can about the future Nittany Lions!