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2024 Penn State Recruiting Class Superlatives

This photo is from February 2014. James hasn’t aged a day.

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National Signing Day Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Early National Signing Day has come and gone with Penn State signing 25 players yesterday. We’ll have tons of recruiting content over the next few weeks with our “Meet The Class” profiles, but as always, we’ll start with our yearly class superlatives.

Best Overall: RB/ATH Quinton Martin

Patrick: “This one is certainly up for debate and really is an “eye of the beholder” question, but we’ll go with Quinton Martin over Luke Reynolds and a couple others for the simple fact that at his peak, Martin will be someone who gets the ball 20+ times a game. Quality plus quantity here.

Most Underrated: RB Corey Smith

Ryan: “Due to an injury that knocked out much of his senior season, Corey Smith has been flying a bit under the radar. And with Quinton Martin posting impressive highlight after impressive highlight, it was easy to turn focus to him. But, Smith has looked impressive. He reminds me a bit of De’Andre Swift — a tad undersized, but with break-neck speed and an arsenal of tackle-breaking moves. He may get lost in a crowded backfield when he first arrives in Happy Valley, but he’s a name to keep an eye on in the future.”

Highest Upside: OTs Eagan Boyer & Garrett Sexton

Patrick: “Bit of a cop out answer here going with two guys, but Boyer and Sexton are pretty similar as prospects. Both are good athletes with long frames that resemble more of a basketball power forward at this point. But give them a couple seasons under Chuck Losey and Phil Trautwein, and Penn State could have two prime bookends at left and/or right tackle.”

Instant Impact (Offense): OL Cooper Cousins

Patrick: “I think Martin could be the answer here if he plays wide receiver instead of running back, but assuming he stays at running back, we’ll go with Cooper Cousins. The Erie product has been committed to Penn State for almost two years, and did a whole bunch of camping in Happy Valley, allowing him more access and time with Phil Trautwein than most prospects have coming into school. Add in that he’s already a behemoth (Penn State had him listed at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds) and that he’s enrolling early, and he’s someone who could push to start at center right away. He’s that good.”

Instant Impact (Defense): DB Dejuan Lane

Ryan: “While many of Penn State’s 2024 defensive signees could benefit from some time in the Lasch Building, Dejuan Lane seems ready to play at safety. He’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, which puts him right with Jaylen Reed and KJ Winston. The Maryland prospect is also a track runner and logged a 100-yard dash time as low as 10.98 (!) in 2022. Franklin’s had no issues giving young players work in the secondary, so Lane seems like the best bet, especially since Jon Mitchell is coming in a bit undersized.”

Most Versatile: RB/ATH Quinton Martin

Patrick: “Lots of options here. Cooper Cousins could probably play all five positions on the offensive line. Dejuan Lane could be a safety, linebacker, or even a wide receiver. Liam Andrews could easily be an offensive tackle. But, again, we’re going with Martin. He’s a Top 100 kid at running back, wide receiver, and even as a defensive back. Truly one of the better pure football players the state has seen in a while.”

Longest Member: OL Cooper Cousins

Ryan: “Now here’s a day-one guy. Cooper Cousins committed to Penn State all the way back in January of 2022 and never visited any other schools. The four-star prospect only has other offers from Toledo, Pitt, and Kentucky.”

Class Leader: CB Kenneth Woseley

Patrick: “James Franklin said it himself during the festivities yesterday – he sees Woseley as a future captain for the Nittany Lions. If you followed along during Woseley’s recruitment cycle, that won’t surprise you. He was an early commitment who stuck with Penn State the whole way through, and was consistently recruiting for the Nittany Lions on social media.

Fastest: RB Corey Smith

Patrick: “Reel Analytics clocked Smith at 22.8 MPH during a game in his junior season. While I don’t know if that 22.8 MPH is *completely* believable, the point still stands: Smith is fast. Very fast.”

Most Surprising Recruiting Win: DL T.A. Cunningham

Ryan: “There truly was not much drama during this recruiting cycle. But, it’s always surprising and impressive when Penn State can fend off SEC schools when going after a prospect from Georgia. Despite receiving heavy interest from Georgia, Florida State, and Tennessee, among others, Cunningham chose the Nittany Lions.”

Most Surprising Recruiting Loss: LB Elijah Newby

Patrick: “Honestly, there weren’t too many “surprising” recruiting losses this go around. I think there was a point in time that the Nittany Lions felt good about landing edge rusher Jamonta Waller and DT Amaris Williams, but with both being from the South, it was always more likely they stayed in SEC country. So let’s go with Connecticut linebacker Elijah Newby, who many thought would end up at Penn State after the official visit period in June. Instead, Newby visited USC and made the quick call for the Trojans. Perhaps what makes this even more surprising was that he really never waved.”

Biggest Recruiting Loss: DT Benedict Umeh

Patrick: “Whether it’s on-the-field or off-the-field, Umeh is everything that Penn State wants in a student-athlete. He’s a Top 100-level defensive tackle who is just hitting his stride as a football, and a tremendous student in the classroom as evidenced by his decision to attend Stanford. Add in his inspirational story of fighting and beating hodgkin lymphoma this summer, and Umeh will be a fun player to root for at the next level — even if he opted against Penn State.”

Biggest Recruiting Win: DT Liam Andrews

Patrick: “Couple good ones here. I think a good argument could be made for QB Ethan Grunkemeyer, given that Penn State found him early on and was able to keep him despite some big time offers. Defensive end Jaylen Harvey would be another good option here given how much effort they put into his recruitment. But let’s go with Liam Andrews for the fact that there’s not many human beings out there who are his size (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) and move the way he does. Top 100 3-Techs are hard to find, and for Penn State to win out for Andrews was massive for defensive line coach Deion Barnes.”