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Meet The 2018 Class: Four-Star LB Nick Tarburton

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Taking a prospect-by-prospect look at Penn State’s elite 2018 recruiting class.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A longtime Penn State fan, it came as no surprise that Nick Tarburton committed to the Nittany Lions just a couple after receiving his offer. The Pennsylvania backer never wavered in his recruitment, and played a big part in helping build the rest of Penn State’s 2018 class.

Vitals

Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Position Hometown High School Height/Weight 247Composite Rank
Linebacker Perkasie, PA Pennridge 6-foot-3, 250 pounds Four-star (0.9071)

Highlights

Scouting Report

First and foremost, the first thing that jumps out about Tarburton is his size. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he’s a massive linebacker prospect. There aren’t many college linebackers that are that big, let alone a player in high school. If he starts out at linebacker — which is expected — one of the keys for the Penn State staff will be keeping his weight down.

As a linebacker, Tarburton checks most of the boxes. He’s a punishing tackler that already does a good job of wrapping up. He has excellent closing speed, and plays with the instincts needed for a middle linebacker to shine. There will certainly be an adjustment in pass coverage, but he doesn’t look stiff when dropping back into zone.

Longterm though, it’s difficult to see a scenario play out where Tarburton doesn’t end up on the defensive line. He carries 250 extremely well, and could carry another 25 pounds with ease. I think Penn State will be able to keep him under 255 for a year, but eventually, they’ll just have to let nature take its course. His athleticism, size, and instincts should make for a seamless transition to defensive end. While he doesn’t have the length of Ryan Buchholz, I think Tarburton will play a similar role as a edge-setting defensive end who will have the size and strength to bounce inside on passing downs.

Outlook

Brent Pry said Penn State is going to try a host of players in the middle this spring, with one of them being Tarburton. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job, I think it’s likely that Tarburton — if he stays at linebacker — doesn’t get redshirted. He’s already on campus as an early enrollee and is as physically ready to play as any player in Penn State’s class. Even if it’s mainly a role on special teams, I think Tarburton will see the field next season.

The potential reason for pause is if it becomes apparent that Tarburton won’t be able to keep his weight down, and a move to defensive end is made earlier than expected. If that ends up being the case, then a redshirt year will serve Tarburton well as he adjusts to his new position.