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Blessed & Honored: Defensive Tackle Big Board

Since the secondary is just about taken care of, let’s shift our focus to the interior of the defensive line.

Hakeem Beamon

In the wake of Antonio Alfano committing to Alabama, now seems like a good time to re-group and take a look at where Penn State’s defensive tackle recruiting stands. After taking a three-man class last year, there isn’t a huge need for interior linemen, but two still seems to be the working number. I say “working number” because I think there’s a chance Penn State only takes one depending on how some other spots fill out, and how guys on the current roster fare in the fall. It could be a case of right now only needing one, but by late November feeling the need to take one more.

7. STEVEN FAUCHEUX (West Chester, OH)

From the time Faucheux was offered, it always seemed like Penn State was lukewarm on the Ohio native. Interested for sure, but despite having an offer for over a year now — and there being a lot of belief that he’s super high on the Nittany Lions — it just hasn’t seemed like Penn State has really gone full bore in this one. Still a name to keep in mind, but despite the nine 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, I don’t see Faucheux in the class at least right now.

6. JEFFREY MBA (Baltimore, MD — By way of France)

Mba will be playing his senior season at St. Frances in Baltimore after transferring from France. Yes, like Europe France. Despite having not yet taken a snap on American soil, Mba already has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, Virginia Tech, and Penn State. At 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, it’s easy to see why programs are taking a chance on him early. He’s already been to State College, making a stop on April 16 while he was in the States, so if Mba meets expectations on the field next season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mba rise up this board quickly.

5. BEN SMILEY (Chesapeake, VA)

Smiley just recently landed his Penn State offer, but the Nittany Lions are already in the thick of things for the 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle, making Smiley’s top 10 last week. It’s still a bit too early to say just how good Penn State’s chances are here, but with the success the program has seen in Virginia, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nittany Lions became prime contenders for Smiley.

4. HAKEEM BEAMON (Chesterfield, VA)

Beamon has always had interest in Penn State, visiting Happy Valley twice in the fall without an offer. He eventually would be offered by the Nittany Lions on January 28, and was just recently back on campus on May 12. It now appears that Beamon might be committing on June 16, but since tweeting that out, there hasn’t been any official confirmation on his announcement. If he does announce, Penn State being the choice would make sense, but Beamon — a one-time North Carolina commit — is also high on Alabama and Ohio State.

3. MAZI SMITH (Grand Rapids, MI)

The highest-ranked defensive tackle that the Nittany Lions are going after, Mazi Smith already used his Penn State official visit when he was in town for the Blue-White game. While Penn State has itself squarely in his top three (along with the Wolverines and Spartans), he’s going to be tough to get away from Michigan. We’ll see how long Mazi takes his recruitment, but if it goes until the fall, getting him back for an unofficial will be a must.

2. RODAS JOHNSON (Columbus, OH)

If this piece was written last week, Johnson probably would have been No. 1. After visiting for the Blue-White game, a flood of predictions for the Nittany Lions came in on 247, and it seemed like Penn State would be the choice for the Ohio product. But since then, Michigan has emerged as a threat to land Johnson’s verbal, earning four predictions of their own yesterday. Penn State is obviously still in it for Johnson, but it’s safe to say that the Wolverines have the inside edge right now.

1. JARED HARRISON-HUNTE (Middle Village, NY)

Although an extremely raw player, Penn State identified the 6-foot-4, 275-pound Harrison-Hunte early on in the process as someone with ridiculous upside on the defensive line. He’s been to Happy Valley twice — March 19 (when he landed his offer) and May 12 — and should be back again in the summer. While spots are tight on the defensive line, Harrison-Hunte should be a name to keep an eye on during the summer when it wouldn’t surprise me if Penn State began to push even harder for the high-upside New York City defensive tackle.