Five-star Justin Fields decommitted from the Nittany Lions Wednesday night, leaving Penn State’s 2018 class with an opening at quarterback. Although Fields said that he’ll continue to consider the Nittany Lions, one doesn’t have to be a recruiting genius to figure out that Fields won’t be spending his college career in Happy Valley.
With that, James Franklin and Joe Moorhead will move forward in their search for a quarterback. Thus far, there’s been very little movement, but that should change over the next few days and weeks. Quarterback recruiting is a sped up process, so with most QBs already committed to other schools, Penn State has little time to waste finding Fields’ replacement.
(Note: All these players have been followed by a Penn State coach on Twitter)
Devin Leary — Sicklerville, NJ
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 189 pounds
Status: Committed to NC State
Probably the most popular name out there, Leary has been killing it on the camp scene. He just earned his way to the Elite 11 finals at The Opening, and was lauded for his arm strength at the camp. He’s also been extremely productive at the high school level, throwing 48 touchdowns last season to just four interceptions en route to a 12-0 record. Some would say he’s a gamer.
While his arm talent and intangibles seem great, I think there’s definitely a question of how well he fits into Joe Moorhead’s offense. You don’t need a quarterback who can run, but having a legit dual-threat back there definitely helps. Granted, Leary isn’t a statue, but he’s not the most nimble guy in the world.
Quincy Patterson — Chicago, Ill
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 232 pounds
Status: Committed to Virginia Tech
Patterson is the only quarterback on this list who was actually offered by Penn State, and oddly enough, he landed an offer from the Nittany Lions at the same camp Justin Fields did. Like Fields, he’s a big, athletic kid, and should thrive in a zone-read offense.
It remains to be seen if Penn State “re-offers” the Chicago native, but if his twitter is any indication, he’s staying true to the Hokies.
Jace Ruder — Norton, KS
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 205 pounds
Ruder has an interesting backstory. He’s from rural Kansas — like, seriously, he’s 4.5 hours from the nearest airport — so his recruitment got off to a slow start. He ended up committing to Tulsa, but eventually Ruder blew up, landing offers from Florida State, North Carolina, Baylor and Ole Miss all within the last month. After the offer from the Seminoles, Ruder re-opened his recruitment, and will be taking visits this summer.
Unlike someone like Leary who’s ready to compete from day one, Ruder will need some time to learn the nuances of being a quarterback. His passing stats won’t blow anybody away — 32/18 TD-to-INT ratio with a completion rate of just 50% — but this is a really, really talented kid. Great size, strong arm, and a very good athlete. In my mind, which doesn’t account for much, he’s exactly what a quarterback in Moorhead’s offense should look like.
Gerry Bohanon — Earle, AR
Height/Weight: 6-foot-4, 215 pounds
If Penn State decides to take another swing at a southern prospect, it looks like Bohanon could be that guy. He’ll need some polish, but he’s a prototypical quarterback for a spread offense — athletic and strong with a good arm. He has 11 Crystal Ball predictions to Mississippi State so it might be too little too late to get involved with Bohanon.
Allan Walters — Hightstown, NJ
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 200 pounds
Status: Committed to Vanderbilt
Walters was in the mix for an offer back in the fall, but once the Fields hype train got rolling, things obviously quieted down. He ended up committing to Vanderbilt, but if the Nittany Lions were to come calling again, I’d imagine Penn State could get themselves back in the mix. That being said, I’d expect Leary to get a call before Walters.
Brennan Armstrong — Shelby, OH
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 210 pounds
Status: Committed to Minnesota
I doubt Armstrong lands a Penn State offer, but hear me out. He’s a left-handed, red-headed quarterback who ESPN describes as “crafty”, “saavy”, and a “deceptively good runner.” Folks, we’ve reached peak moxie.