Early National Signing Day is here! We’ll have tons of recruiting content over the next few weeks, but as always, we’ll start with our yearly class superlatives.
Best Overall: OL Landon Tengwall
In my mind, this one is pretty easy. Unlike past years where there might have been some debate on who the top prospect in the class was, there is no debate this year: it’s Landon Tengwall. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Tengwall is as technically sound as any offensive lineman in the country and already looks like a third-year college player physically. He has All-American potential, and should become a major piece on Phil Trautwein’s line sooner rather than later.
Highest Upside: WR Lonnie White & DE Rodney McGraw
I went with one offensive player and one defensive player here because in my mind, it’s pretty close. Both are top-tier athletes for their position with really good size — White at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, with McGraw coming in at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. I thought both made massive strides during their senior seasons, moving just from the vague idea of a prospect you like to legitimate big-framed athletes who project to be even better once they are in a structured program.
Instant Impact: CB Kalen King
First and foremost, I think Tengwall is the “no duh” pick here. But because I don’t want him to be the pick for everything, I’m going with cornerback Kalen King here. Three things King has going in his favor:
- He’s enrolling early, which goes without saying, but is a big piece to getting a true frosh on the field.
- Cornerback is probably the easiest spot to see playing time. In 2019, Penn State played three true freshman cornerbacks before deciding to redshirt Joey Porter Jr. after three games.
- With some moves this offseason, the need for playing time will be there at cornerback.
Most Underrated: WR Harrison Wallace
The most recent commit, I think Harrison is one of the more intriguing options in the class. Prior to his senior season, he was more so thought as a basketball recruit, but after a strong final prep year, Wallace landed multiple Power 5 offers — Duke, South Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee, and the Nittany Lions all came coming once his film hit the scene.
He’ll remind people of 2019-signee KeAndre Lambert-Smith — very similar, 6-foot-1, 180-pound wiry frames. Wallace might offer a bit more upside as an athlete, which is why those in Happy Valley should be excited about this one.
Biggest Recruiting Win: OL Landon Tengwall
I know I said I didn’t want Tengwall to be the answer for each one, but I am using him here again. He’s the lone Top 100 recruit in class so he’s the easy choice.
Biggest Recruiting Loss: Regional 5-Star QBs
You could put Washington DC’s Caleb Williams (Oklahoma) or Philadelphia’s Kyle McCord (Ohio State) here, and I would agree with both. And hey, I get it: Penn State isn’t the most poppin’ place for a five-star quarterback. The QB play post-Moorhead hasn’t warranted a quarterback wanting to play here instead of Oklahoma or Ohio State. But man, to have two legitimate five-stars in your prime recruiting territory and to see Penn State end up not even being major players for them — it’s rough in these streets.
Most Surprising Recruiting Win: Michigan Quartet
One of the lone bright spots of the 2021 recruiting cycle was Penn State and Tim Banks going into Michigan and seizing four prime prospects from the Wolverine state: four-stars Kalen King and Jaylen Reed, and three-stars Kobe King (yes, twins with Kalen) and Jamari Buddin.
With how dreadful Penn State was in its normal recruiting territory, it needed a big year somewhere else, and that’s exactly what Michigan provided with four of Penn State’s top seven prospects being native Michiganders.
Most Surprising Recruiting Loss: OT Nolan Rucci
I don’t know how you lose a five-star Pennsylvania kid who grew up a Nittany Lion fan with two Penn State parents, and one of those parents literally played for the football program.
Yes, Nolan’s brother, Hayden, goes to Wisconsin where he’s a redshirt freshman, but...really? This is Penn State. Not Boston College. Not Rutgers. Not Maryland. Penn State. The Nittany Lions shouldn’t need to be aided by a sibling being on the team to land a legacy recruit in their backyard.