Penn State’s offense is going through a pivotal string of changes. Out is Joe Moorhead, a man who played a major part in changing the offense in Happy Valley. Perhaps just as important, out
is will be Saquon Barkley, a player who truly was a once in decade type talent. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, there’s plenty of offensive talent already on the roster, and it will only get better now that most of the 2018 class is locked in.
Penn State rebounded nicely landing three-star Will Levis following Justin Fields’ decommitment. Levis isn’t the prospect Fields is (spoiler: few are), but he’s one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects in the class. He has tremendous size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and possesses an arm that will be able to make every throw. He doesn’t have great straight-line speed (4.8 40), but tested off the charts otherwise, putting up a 4.10 20-yard shuttle and a 35.7 inch vert. Going from New England high school football to the Big Ten will be a big jump so a redshirt will be necessary, but Levis has the makings to compete for the starting job in 2019 or 2020.
With the aforementioned Barkley a lock to enter the NFL draft, there will be carries to go around, and five-star Ricky Slade should find himself squarely in the mix. He’s a little on the smaller side at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, but Slade is too electric with the football to keep off the field. Sure, Miles Sanders will be the starter, but Slade should be a legitimate contender for the second-strong spot.
First and foremost, let’s start with Justin Shorter. The five-star wideout is everything a coach would want in a receiving prospect, and will be a contributor at Penn State from the second he steps on campus. The Nittany Lions have Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins returning as starters, but expect Shorter to work himself into the rotation rather quickly. It’s lofty expectations for the incoming freshman, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Shorter led the team in receptions next season. He’s that good.
Behind Shorter is Daniel George, who is a heck of a prospect in his own right. He has good size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and has really long arms that allow him to play bigger than he actually he is. He’s probably not polished enough to see the field next season, but the potential is there to be a real asset at wide receiver down the line.
The Nittany Lions received a Signing Day surprise of sorts, when Jahan Dotson switched his commitment from UCLA to Penn State. Dotson has average size and didn’t test very well athletically at camps, but his film tells a different story because he plays like a top 150 recruit. Let’s hope Dotson can be even half as productive as the last Lehigh Valley product at Penn State.
Josh Gattis will also be bringing in three-star Shaquon Anderson-Butts, though he won’t be singing until February. Also, don’t be surprised if Anderson-Butts ends up at safety. With Isheem Young no longer a part of the class, the path to playing time for Anderson-Butts may be quicker at safety.
Penn State didn’t sign a tight end in 2017, but for good reason, as Pat Freiermuth and Zack Kuntz were already committed in the 2018 class. Freiermuth and Kuntz already seem to mesh off the field, and they should be quite the duo on the field, too. While Freiermuth is much more of your traditional, hand in the dirt tight end, Kuntz will most likely play more of an H-back role that allows him to play in space.
Penn State will continue to push for four-star Rasheed Walker, but even without Walker, Matt Limegrover has another strong group coming in. Leading the way is Nana Asiedu, who has the makings of a future left tackle. He’ll need a year or two to put on some mass, but Asiedu could have the highest upside of anybody in the class.
The Nittany Lions have done a really nice job on the interior in previous classes, and this year is no different with Juice Scruggs. Although he plays left tackle in high school, Scruggs will make the switch inside at Penn State. He’s a tremendous athlete for his size, and already displays the footwork of an elite guard prospect.
Finally, there’s three-star Bryce Effner, who might be the least heralded recruit, but offers the versatility to really play anywhere on the offensive line. Effner has the size and skill set to eventually land at tackle, guard, or even center.