Best Overall: CB Lamont Wade
The Clairton product is already enrolled at Penn State, and should figure to see the field in 2017. Whether it’s at cornerback, nickelback, or safety, Wade will be a swiss army knife defensively for Brent Pry over the next three to four years. Not mention, Wade could play a huge part as a kick or punt returner, too. Safe to say the Lions landed a very good player in the WPIAL defensive back.
Highest Potential: Yetur Matos
While I also believe that Matos is underrated, “high potential” fits well too. Simply put, the football gods couldn’t make a better defensive end prospect — terrific length, quick first-step, explosive athlete, rangy, etc. With Sean Spencer coaching him, the sky is really the limit for Matos. He has the potential to become an All-American type player for the Nittany Lions.
Instant Impact: Ellis Brooks
Brooks joins the class as Dylan Rivers’ replacement, and like Rivers was originally projected to, expect to see Brooks on the field come 2017. He’s a really smart kid who should grasp the playbook quickly, he’s physically ready, and Penn State will need all the help it can get at linebacker.
Most Underrated: Brelin Faison-Walden
This spot would have gone to CJ Thorpe, but after his week down at the Under Armour All-American Game, Thorpe was bumped up to a Top 100 player.
But outside of Thorpe, somehow the 247Composite has Faison-Walden rated as only a three-star prospect, and that’s why he’s Penn State’s “most underrated” prospect. There are few very players in the country who have the instincts, quickness, and short-area burst that Faison-Walden has. He’ll need to add some bulk to his 6-foot-1, 200 pound frame, but once he does add 20 pounds or so, he has the makings of being an outstanding outside linebacker at Linebacker-U.
Most Likely To Win The Heisman Trophy: QB Sean Clifford
Because the Heisman is essentially the a quarterback, running back, and wide receiver award, it was an easy choice to give this title to Sean Clifford. The Ohio quarterback will be given the opportunity to sit for a couple years before battling for the starting job as a redshirt sophomore or redshirt junior. If he wins the job, he has all the tools to become one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and thus, a possible contender for the Heisman.
Biggest Recruiting Win: CB Lamont Wade
Wade had been a target of James Franklin and Terry Smith since this coaching staff got hired in January 2014, so being able to land his signature in December was a big recruiting victory for Penn State. Wade should help change the perception of the Nittany Lions not only at Clairton, but in the WPIAL as a whole.
Biggest Recruiting Loss: DE Josh Kaindoh
This was a toss up between Kaindoh and D’Andre Swift, but we’ll give the edge to Kaindoh just because for a couple days following his official visit to Penn State, it seemed like the Maryland defensive end would end up in Happy Valley. Instead, Kaindoh took his talents to Florida State, and will leave Penn State fans thinking what could have been.
Most Surprising Recruiting Win: WR KJ Hamler
It would probably be fair to say that Penn State didn’t lead for Hamler until the last couple weeks of his recruitment. The Michigan wide receiver was favoring Oregon and Michigan State for the majority of his recruitment, but Penn State’s Big Ten Championship season obviously caught the eye of Hamler, who ended up making the call for the Nittany Lions.
Most Surprising Recruiting Loss: WR Mark Webb
There was a time that Mark Webb-to-Penn State looked like a sure thing, but once a couple SEC schools came snooping around, Webb turned his attention to the South. Alabama and Georgia became the frontrunners, with the Bulldogs eventually earning Webb’s signature.