Wednesday's roundtable took a close look at the recruits on the offensive side of the ball, and boy does the future look bright as the new Nittany Lions offense looks to emerge following a
disappointing poor lackluster dreadful 2014 campaign.
Today, we look at the tough sons-of-guns who will be lining up on defense. These guys may not see the field immediately in the fall, but you can bet your last dollar they will be knocking the snot out of everyone who comes there way in due time.
Nick Polak: John Reid Penn State has experienced very up-and-down play at the cornerback spot during the last few seasons. Even the now-reliable and consistent Jordan Lucas took time to get to the place he's in now. The bottom line is that even with the emergence of Grant Haley and Christian Campbell this past season, it has been some time since Penn State has brought in a cornerback with a similar skill set to John Reid. Whether it has been Lucas, Trevor Williams or Da'Quan Davis, Penn State's cornerbacks have often struggled early on with the little things about playing cornerback. With Reid, those instincts come naturally. He was born to play cornerback. He may not be as big or versatile as a Garrett Taylor, but he more than makes up for it with his technique and speed. I fully expect Reid to earn at least a starting nickel role by opening day this year, and I think there's a very good chance he is starting on the outside by the time bowl season rolls around.
Bill: Garrett Taylor I wrote Taylor's preview for National Signing Day, and within like 30 seconds of watching his tape I realized that he could be special. The thing that immediately stuck out to me was that his high school coach played him all over the secondary. He lined up at safety, on the outside, in the slot, everywhere. Not only that, but he was good no matter where he played. Yeah, it was a highlight tape, so of course everything was positive, but he just looked so comfortable all over the place. Not only that, but he has spectacular instincts. He is so intelligent and his ability to read a play and react quickly is exactly what you want from a defensive back. Bob Shoop is going to have so much fun with Taylor.
Cari: Kamonte Carter I know he's not the flashiest guy on defense, and yes, I'm biased because he went to a rival high school of mine. But his versatility (he played a multitude of front seven positions on defense, and even on offense for Gaithersburg) and his willingness to do literally whatever the team needs, play wherever the coaching staff thinks he'll have the best impact, have me totally sold on him. As a coach's son, he'll be immediately moldable, and he could break the two-deep at DE immediately with the departure of Olaniyan and Barnes.
bscaff: Kevin Givens Kevin was a long-time Pitt verbal. And when he finally got his mind straight and switched to the Nittany Lions, the Pitt crowd shrugged it off. "He wouldn't have played," they said. "We have three other linebacker commits who are all rated more highly - we won't miss him." That kind of stuff. So, I'm excited for Kevin Givens to shove it right up Pitt's *** in the years to come. Make them cry. Wailing and lamentations.
Tim A: Garrett Taylor What started with Marcus Allen, Christian Campbell, and Grant Haley continues with Garrett Taylor (and fellow classmate John Reid): Athletic secondary players who not only can cover but who also can be utilized in blitz packages. I give the slight nod to Taylor because of his size (6'2") in comparison to the 5'10" Reid, but it's hard not to be giddy about the secondary for the next few years, either way you slice it.
Matt: Manny Bowen As great as PSU's defense played in 2014, and great is an understatement, they did not have a player with the skill set of Manny Bowen. He's fast, he's athletic, and he's crazy aggressive. The last part may be a reason he does not see a ton of playing time at linebacker as a true freshman, but once he settles into Bob Shoop's scheme, he will be as athletic an LB that PSU has had for quite awhile. In the meantime, look for him to become a menace on kick and punt coverage.
Jared: Ryan Buchholz Buchholz has all the tools necessary to become another fantastic defensive end at Penn State. He's tall, fast and has a great motor. Under the tutelage of Sean Spencer, Buchholz has a chance to develop into something truly special. With the defensive end position being in flux with the departures of C.J. Olaniyan and Deion Barnes, the four-star prospect may be able to make an immediate impact. But even if he doesn't suit up in 2015, it won't be long until Buchholz is providing Penn State with a dangerous weapon off the edge.
Devon: Garrett Taylor John Reid and Garrett Taylor are going to have an opportunity to compete early, and even if neither can crack the lineup from day one, they've got as much raw talent as any PSU corner since--what, Justin King? We saw how Bob Shoop gives corners the opportunity to make big plays not just in coverage, but attacking the line, blitzing the quarterback, and being moved around to form an aggressive, and versatile, defense. Plugging in blue-chip guys to the lineup is only going to make a devastating D even better.
Nick Page: Ryan Buchholz Maybe it's just me, but until very recently I thought he was the most underrated player in this whole class. In the Final 247 update he got a pretty substantial bump in ranking but I still feel his talent may be underrated. He's not a Jadeveon Clowney type athlete or anything, but he brings a ton of tools to the table and i can see him being a big contributor during his time at Penn State.