While Penn State’s class isn’t totally wrapped up, that didn’t stop our staff from taking a closer look at the class as a whole.
Let’s start nice and easy: which player are you most excited about?
Chris Lucia: Tough call, but I’ll say Brandon Smith (shocker, I know). After years of LB recruiting futility, Franklin has really turned it on. It’s not a stretch to say that the starting 2020 LB corps could include Micah Parsons and Brandon Smith, two five-stars. That’s nuts.
Marty Leap: I’ll go with Lance Dixon. The five-star linebacker has the ability to play in space, while also being a terror of a pass rusher. Dixon is an elite linebacker.
LndoBSD: Although I am a fan of both Brandon Smith and Lance Dixon, and always appreciate explosive/elusive/powerful running backs like either Devyn Ford or Noah Cain, I can’t get enough of the 6’4’’ or 6’5’’ defensive ends like Adisa Isaac. Remember the impact Aaron Maybin made in 2008? (not to mention Deion Barnes and a current guy like Shaka Toney in terms of similar builds and skillsets) Hopefully Isaac can do the same, especially after enrolling early.
Patrick Koerbler: Brandon Smith is the de facto answer here, but I’ll give some love to Adisa Isaac. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound New York City native has everything you want in a defensive end — frame, length, athleticism, first step, motor, etc. I don’t know if we’ll see him beyond four games in 2019, but he’s someone who could make major moves in the rotation as a redshirt freshman in 2020.
Offensively, is there a position group that sticks out as a clear strength of the class?
Chris Lucia: Proooobably running back. Two four-stars in one class hasn’t been done since Saquon Barkley and Andre Robinson. Given their relative readiness for college, it’s not unfathomable that the two could end up staggering eligibility, loading the RB room for the future.
Marty: Running back. A pair of four-star RBs, both of whom will play as a true freshmen. Saquon Barkley may have opened up the floodgates to making Penn State RBU.
LndoBSD: The offensive line certainly seems to be a group that should add immediate needed depth, followed closely by the running backs.
Patrick: Running back is the answer, but the offensive guard duo of Caedan Wallace and Saleem Wormley is pretty darn good too. Not sure if Wallace will stay at guard — he’d make a pretty sweet right tackle, too — but there’s some quality on the interior of the offensive line. Just wish there was more quantity.
How about defensively?
Chris Lucia: Linebacker again. Penn State took a bevy of DBs, but Smith and Lance Dixon are two future All-Big Ten players, if not All-American.
Marty: Penn State signed two five-star linebackers. Need I say more?
LndoBSD: The defensive line group as a whole stands out as the clear position group that can help strengthen the defense.
Patrick: Again, linebacker is the obvious answer, but I really love the cornerback duo of Keaton Ellis and Marquis Wilson. As cornerbacks coach Terry Smith stated pretty clearly, Penn State really thinks highly of Ellis. Meanwhile, I just think Wilson is so natural at cornerback. If Dwight Galt & Co. can add some muscle to his wiry frame, that dude is going to be a player.
The 2018 class had more top-end talent , but the 2019 class has more depth — which class are/were you more impressed with?
Chris Lucia: I’ll say 2019, for two reasons. First, the ludicrous blue-chip ratio. Second, because 2019 was supposed to be a down year, with Penn State biding its time until 2020. Instead Franklin went ahead and signed a second consecutive top ten class. Bananas.
Marty: While the 2018 class was slightly better in my opinion, the 2019 class was more impressive. Why? Because it was a down year in Penn State’s recruiting region. Despite this, James Franklin and company still inked a top 10 class.
LndoBSD: I’m a sucker for depth over individual talent, so I’ll go with the 2019 class. Let’s hope they make the kind of impact that the 2018 class has so far.
Patrick: I’ll preface this by saying that if Penn State signs 2019-esque classes every year, I’d be tremendously happy — but I still think the 2018 haul was more impressive. In my opinion, Micah Parsons and Justin Shorter are still the best two prospects from either class, and I liked the hauls at the “premium” positions of offensive tackle and defensive line in 2018 a little bit more. It’s close, but having a PJ Mustipher and Rasheed Walker gives the edge toe 2018.