Final Thoughts On Penn State’s 2017 Class
James Franklin continues to bring in talent to Happy Valley, with the 21-player 2017 group ending up being ranked as the No. 15 class in the entire country. If you would have told many folks following the program — myself included — that Penn State would end up rated this highly during the recruiting lull last June or early July, I’m not sure many would have believed you. But, not all that surprisingly, winning on the field helps a lot in recruiting, and that’s certainly the case for Penn State in 2017 and moving forward.
This is an interesting class for a couple of reasons. Comparing it to last year’s class, it doesn’t have the headline top 50 players — Miles Sanders (No. 20), Michal Menet (No. 28), and Shane Simmons (No. 41) — that the 2016 group did. Only Lamont Wade has that honor in 2017, just squeaking into the 247Composite top 50 at No. 46.
So there isn’t the razzmatazz at the top of 2017 that will bring a lot of hype, but there’s also much better depth spread out across the entire class as a whole. After Wade, you have 10 other players who are ranked as four-star players, led by notable talented dudes like CJ Thorpe, Yetur Matos, and Tariq Castro-Fields.
I guess to put it best, it’s a balanced class that maybe doesn’t have multiple elite guys, but it also doesn’t have a lot of reaches either. And that middle of the class is super deep, with the difference between someone like Sean Clifford (No. 3 overall, 0.9210) and Brelin Faison-Walden (No. 12 overall, 0.8721) not being all that noticeable.
Size of the 2018 Class
Sean Fitz of Lions247 has a great article with some quotes from Penn State’s staff about what the working number is in 2018. With 15 seniors on the roster, a decently large contingent of redshirt juniors who might move on after graduation, the obvious NFL talents, and just general attrition, it’s easy to see this class being in the 21-23 range.
We’ll have much more on the 2018 class in the coming weeks (Big Board and Offers Board), but let’s take a look at how the class could shape up.
Quarterback - 1
Analysis: Penn State already has its quarterback in Justin Fields. He’ll be a consensus five-star by all four recruiting sites by this time next season. Absolute stud.
Running Back - 1
Analysis: The Nittany Lions appear to be the leader for five-star Virginia product Ricky Slade. Someone like Iverson Clement could also be an option here, too.
Wide Receiver - 2 or 3
Analysis: I think two is the working number, but if it’s the right kid, Penn State will take three. Watching this coaching staff recruit the previous couple seasons, I believe Josh Gattis is allowed some wiggle room if he likes a particular prospect enough. Justin Shorter is already in, but Daniel George, Shaquon Anderson-Butts, and Jahan Dotson are three others I’d look out for.
Tight End - 2
Analysis: With Zack Kuntz and Pat Freiermuth committed, Penn State should be done here. Still, I’d keep an eye on Philadelphia’s Kyle Pitts, who could come in as a jumbo athlete. The staff apparently likes him quite a bit.
Offensive Line - 3-4
Analysis: Even though the offensive line is back to being in good shape numbers wise, I think you’ll still see Penn State take at least three offensive linemen every class. This should be a tackle heavy class, with Rasheem Walker being an ideal target. At offensive guard, Juice Scruggs is a name to remember. Shaping up to be a Penn State-Ohio State battle for both of those prospects.
Defensive End - 3
Analysis: This number is fluid because I don’t think it’d be all that surprising if a current defensive end or two (i.e., Ryan Buchholz, Daniel Joseph, and Damion Barber offer the versatility) made the switch to defensive tackle. But anyway, Micah Parsons (kind of) has one spot here. Despite being recruited as a linebacker-defensive end hybrid, I think Nick Tarburton — who Penn State leads for — is going to end up here at defensive end. Dorian Hardy is another prospect that the Nittany Lions should be in the thick of things for.
Defensive Tackle - 2
Analysis: Penn State will be losing three defensive tackles, so another class of two legitimate interior linemen will be necessary. Still a bit light on names here, but Tyreke Smith has been to campus multiple times. Matthew Jones from New York (could also be an offensive guard) just visited Happy Valley in the last week. Both those guys might have Ohio State on top though.
Linebacker - 2 or 3
Analysis: Linebacker-U got on the board yesterday with Charlie Katshir. A lot of smoke around Jesse Luketa to become the second linebacker in the class. If Brent Pry can lock those two up, he’ll be able to be selective with the third. Five-star Teradja Mitchell just put Penn State in his top 11.
Safety - 2 or 3
Analysis: Isaiah Humphries is set into one spot. I imagine the dream for Penn State would be to land the Pennsylvania safeties — Isheem Young and Kwantel Raines.
Cornerback - 1 or 2
Analysis: With Amani Oruwariye, Garrett Taylor, Anthony Johnson, Lamont Wade, and Tariq Castro-Fields all at corner, it’s obvious a couple of these guys will move to safety, so the number for the 2018 class is hard to pin down. I imagine Penn State will take at least one though.
No matter what the final number ends up being for 2018, it’s very likely to be Penn State’s most talented class in at least a decade. Should be a very fun recruiting year to follow.
Katshir and Kuntz Talk With PennLive
Good interview from PennLive with Christian Kuntz and the newly committed Charlie Katshir. They talk about their background together as friends, their respective commitments to Penn State, and if either plan on taking official visits elsewhere during the 2017 season.