In case you're living under a rock, Penn State brought in a host of fantastic new talent in the recruiting class of 2016 on National Signing Day in early February. There are a ton of names to be very excited for, but everyone has a personal favorite. The Black Shoe Diaries staff decided to weigh in on their personal favorites. Earlier, we looked at our favorite offensive/special teams recruits. Today, we look to the defensive side of the ball.
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Matt- Daniel Joseph
It did not take more than a few seconds of watching Daniel Joseph's high school highlight video to quickly fall in love with the Canadian native's game. Sure, the competition level is not the highest in the country, but he was a man among boys, and there is no doubting his athleticism. Nothing that is 6-3, 240 should move the way Joseph does.
His immediate future probably has him starting at defensive end, but it does not take much imagination to envision something of an Anthony Zettel like path that eventually sees him grow into a defensive tackle. Regardless of where he ends up, I think he has a very bright future for Penn State.
Jared- Tyrell Chavis
The more I watched the film of Tyrell CHavis, the more I became convinced he's the second coming of Austin Johnson. At 320 lbs. Chavis is a space-eating defensive tackle he moves surprisingly well for his size. Even better, he hits with the ferocity of a blitzing outside linebacker with a full head off steam off the edge. With Penn STate being somewhat thin and largely inexperienced at defensive tackle, the timing of Chavis' addition could not be more perfect. He should step in and contribute right away, and could find himself in a starting role by the end of the season. As a JUCO transfer, Chavis has had time to develop and add bulk and should be ready to become a big-time contributor for the next three seasons, and quite possibly, the next great defensive tackle to play at Penn State.
Dan- Shane Simmons
I don't even know whether Simmons is going to end up as a defensive end or a linebacker but I'm excited regardless. The kid can flat out play. I anticipate him redshirting 2016 so I have to temper even my own expectations, but I'm really looking forward to his 2017 season here in February of 2016. I think he has the potential to be the next great Big Ten pass rusher and an NFL-caliber talent.
Chris- Cameron Brown
At first glance Brown reminds me of a linebacker that played at PSU in the early 2000's named Derek Wake. Like Wake, the 6'5" 210 pound linebacker may very well grow from being an outside linebacker to a defensive end before his time at PSU is over. The fact that he was poached from the state to the south of Pennsylvania is an added plus. Brown may not be the highest rated recruit in the class but his athleticism may make him the most productive player in the coming years.
Tim A- Zechariah McPhearson
Not only will Zech add depth to an already loaded secondary, but he may end up making the greatest impact on special teams as a speedster who can not only catch punts but also be a threat to take one to the house (a la Derrick Williams), something this program has sorely lacked over the last several years.
Noel- Daniel Joseph
When I wrote my first Committany Nation post back in October, and I turned it in an hour late because I got caught up watching Daniel Joseph highlight film. The competition level wasn't elite, sure, but watching full grown man Daniel Joseph just absolutely end a bunch of tiny white kids was the most entertaining footage out there. They lined him up at Tight End/Wide Receiver in high school and he'd catch cross routes over the middle and run kids over like they were inanimate objects. He is a monster on the edge with speed, technique, and quick-twitch muscles that have you dreaming of his pass rush with Shane Simmons down the road. He will eat the souls of Big Ten linemen within three years. Get excited.
Eli- Shane Simmons
He's our highest rated defensive recruit (one of the highest rated recruits overall), and he fills a position of need. I wouldn't be surprised to see Simmons make a considerable impact on the field sooner rather than later.
Bill- Daniel Joseph
I love a bunch of recruits in this class, but there may not be a player who can even come close to matching the versatility of Joseph. Capable of playing basically anywhere in the front seven, Joseph has a tremendous mean streak and a nose for the ball. Plus as we've mentioned like a zillion times before, watching him play football is like watching a rabid bengal tiger play football. Will he play as a true freshman and light the world on fire? Probably not, but somewhere down the line, this dude's going to make a big impact.
bscaff- Brenon Thrift
Whosoever is first shall be last, and whosoever is last shall be first. Thus, I choose the 2-star DE/DT tweener Jimmy Franks managed to poach from Idaho at the eleventh hour. Work hard, Brenon, and may you have much success on and off the field of play.
Cari- Cameron Brown
The easy answer here is Shane Simmons, because he's so darn likable on twitter (plus how he trolled Nordin was classic), but I'm going Cam Brown here. Why? Because he's a four star linebacker (I mean, duh) from Maryland who chose Penn State over a ton of other blue blood programs (including Virginia Tech #elite). And though he might grow into a lineman, his athleticism is off the charts and he's so damn versatile. I can't wait to see where he contributes, even though it's likely not this year.
Nick- Ellison Jordan
I've been a big Ellison Jordan fan ever since I first watched his tape. Penn State has been extremely successful in finding the perfect defensive tackles to pair together, and I think Jordan is half of the next Still/Hill, Johnson/Zettel combination in the middle for the Nittany Lions. He's not the biggest guy in the world (according to 247Sports, he stands at 6'0", 270 lbs.), but he is an extremely active hand-fighter, which allows him to penetrate the pocket. That skill will remind a lot of Penn State fans of Jordan Hill, especially when Ellison is paired with a big-space eating defensive tackle (Tyrell Chavis, perhaps?).
I feel like Jordan has been forgotten about, to a degree, since he falls right in between the "big three" of Sanders, Menet and Simmons, and the majority of the class (the low four stars/high three stars). Make no mistake however, Jordan is a great talent who has a very real opportunity to continue Penn State's impressive tradition of producing NFL-caliber defensive tackles.