It has been no secret that 4-star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has been the top remaining target for Penn State's Class of 2015 for several weeks now. Not only was he arguably the most talented player left on the board for the Lions, but he was also one at a position in crucial need of reinforcements. PSU enters the 2015 season with 5 defensive tackles (Anthony Zettel, Tarow Barney, Austin Johnson, Parker Cothren, and Antoine White). Zettel and Barney will see their eligibility expire following the season, and it's not a stretch to say Johnson could be headed to the NFL with another season like the last. It doesn't take John Urschel's mind to figure out PSU is staring at potentially just two scholarship tackles going into 2016.
So what's James Franklin's next move? Well I'm glad you asked! While the elite players in the class seem to be wrapped up, Franklin, Sean Spencer and the rest of the staff have hardly been sitting on their hands. Here is a look at which defensive tackles may be signing their name on a PSU Letter of Intent in just a little less than a month.
Even before Wilkins headed south, Seymour had earned his offer from Penn State. He committed to our dear friends at Rutgers back in April of this year, but is clearly looking around. He visited UCF in December, and is planning on making his way to Happy Valley after the dead period ends. That visit will likely fall on the weekend of January 23-25, which is shaping up to be a huge official visit weekend for the Lions. Seymour is a 6'6", 270 pound, 3-star prospect from Brooklyn. His Hudl film below shows a talented athlete, if not a bit raw. New York City high school football is always a tough evaluation with so few games, but Kamaal definitely has potential. As I wrote in our predictions last month, I expect Kamaal to ultimately end up flipping to Penn State when all is said and done.
Robert is a new addition to PSU's list of targets. It took no more than about an hour from Wilkins electing to head to the Tigers for PSU to offer the Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin product. He is also planning to visit the weekend of the 23rd, and it would seem that PSU is in a good spot. He picked up offers from Illinois, New Mexico, Purdue, and Vanderbilt in 2014, with the Terps joining PSU as a more recent suitor. At this point, he has visited Illinois and Purdue, with PSU the only other scheduled visit. With his State College visit being set up so quickly after being offered, it would seem a good bet that Robert heads to Happy Valley in the fall.
At this point Seymour and Windsor appear to be PSU's main targets for the 2015 class, but even before the Wilkins news, PSU was already beginning to shift plenty of focus to the Class of 2016, which features several local and highly ranked prospects at DT.
Gary was almost certainly #1 on Penn State's 2016 big board before Wilkins, and he becomes even bigger now without him. Gary is the top player in New Jersey in the 2016 cycle, the top defensive tackle in the country, a top 5 overall player nationally. Suffice to say, he would be a huge get both in talent and need. He has been on campus three times now, most recently for the Ohio State game in October, and while things are certainly a long way from being decided, it would seem the Lions will be in this one for awhile, if not until the very end.
The 4-star tackle from Baltimore picked up a PSU offer in October of 2014, and camped in Happy Valley over the summer. The Lions will be fighting with the Terps, among others for Ellison's commitment.
With less than a month to go before prospects can sign their Letters of Intent, and the new Big Ten coaches set to make immediate impacts, things are far from set in stone. The recruiting dead period ends at midnight on January 14th, and with official visits resuming shortly thereafter, we could very well see more changes in these targets.