Penn State Football Recruiting: 17 Targets for 2017

Penn State already has one of the top 2016 recruiting classes in the nation, but James Franklin and his staff aren’t one to rest on their laurels. They’re already working hard to put together their 2017 class, which looks like it could have the potential to be another top-ten class. Here are 17 names to know as James Franklin continues to build up the program.

QB Sean Clifford (6-foot-2, 203 pounds)

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)

Notable offers: Boston College, Louisville, Missouri, Northwestern, and West Virginia

Penn State got its class off to a quick start in July when Clifford pulled the trigger for the Nittany Lions. While he’s the only commitment to this point, it’s always great to land a quarterback early in the process. Just as they are leaders for their teams, they also tend to be leaders for their recruiting class too. Look for Clifford to play a pivotal role in recruiting fellow prospects to the Nittany Lions.

QB Kasim Hill (6-foot-2, 195 pounds)

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland (Gilman)

Notable offers: Boston College, Michigan State, Northwestern, Syracuse, and Virginia

Even with Clifford in the fold, Penn State is still pushing for another quarterback in 2017. The most prominent one is Hill, who’s attended Penn State’s football camps the past couple years. While it’s not unforeseen to have two quarterbacks in the same recruiting class (Penn State did it in 2014), in reality, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Only one quarterback can play, so the other one will end up transferring anyway. As much as Hill may like Penn State, he may opt for another program where he can be “the one.”

RB D’Andre Swift (5-foot-9, 204 pounds)

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (St. Joseph’s)

Notable offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, and Michigan

James Franklin has reeled in Pennsylvania’s top-ranked running back the previous two years — Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders — and look to do so again with Swift. While Penn State is rumored to be the current favorite, it won’t be easy landing the five-star’s commitment. Swift’s offer list is a who’s who of college football, with Clemson, Florida State, and LSU looking to be Penn State’s stiffest competition.

RB Anthony McFarland (5-foot-9, 189 pounds)

Hometown: Hyattsville, Maryland (DeMatha Catholic)

Notable offers: Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma

Swift may be rated slightly higher, but McFarland is still an elite running back in his own right. Playing at DeMatha, he’s at a school that has sent a couple players to Penn State — current tight end Brent Wilkerson and running back Mark Allen, and 2016 defensive end commit Shane Simmons. That being said, Penn State looks to be trailing in this one, behind schools like Georgia and Alabama.

WR Mark Webb (6-foot-2, 190 pounds)

Hometown: Warminster, Pennsylvania (Archbishop Wood)

Notable offers: North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, and West Virginia

The Nittany Lions don’t currently have a wide receiver committed in the 2016 class, which means that Webb will be a major priority for Penn State in 2017. Webb is no stranger to Happy Valley, having visited four times in the past year. He was also teammates in high school with current Penn State freshman linebacker Jake Cooper and center Ryan Bates. While the wide receiver doesn’t seem close to a commitment, one can only assume that Penn State sits atop his list.

OL Micah Clark (6-foot-5, 283 pounds)

Hometown: Holmdel, New Jersey (St. John Vianney Regional)

Notable offers: Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Ohio State, and Tennessee

Potential bookend left tackles are hard to find, but Clark has all the makings of a good one. Fortunately for James Franklin and Herb Hand, they find themselves in a favorable spot in the early going. Clark just visited Penn State, and had some glowing things to say about the Nittany Lions. It may have been just his first visit to Happy Valley, but it’s clear Penn State has set a solid foundation for the rest of Clark’s recruitment.

OL Matt Bockhorst (6-foot-4, 290 pounds)

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)

Notable offers: Boston College, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State, and Northwestern

Penn State will be on the market for quite a few offensive linemen in 2017, and Bockhorst looks like he could potentially be a part of that haul. The Ohio offensive guard has a close connection to the Nittany Lion program — Penn State commit Sean Clifford is his teammate at St. Xavier. Offers from Notre Dame or Michigan could throw a wrench into his recruitment, but at this point, Penn State has positioned themselves well.

OL Robert Hainsey (6-foot-4, 263 pounds)

Hometown: Bradenton, Florida (IMG Academy)

Notable offers: Duke, Michigan, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Tennessee

Hainsey’s recruitment has been an odd one. He’s originally from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, where he played his high school football at Gateway — the school Penn State’s cornerbacks coach Terry Smith was previously the head coach of from 2002-2012. This summer he transferred to IMG Academy, a boarding school in Florida that takes its athletics really seriously. Prior to his changing of schools, Hainsey seemed like a Penn State lock. Now, things seem little bit more up in the air. Penn State is still the reported leader, but being 1,000 miles away from State College is going to make his recruitment that much tougher.

OL C.J. Thorpe (6-foot-2, 308 pounds)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Central Catholic)

Notable offers: Auburn, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, and Wisconsin

Like Bockhorst, Thorpe also has a couple connections to the Penn State program, although the latter’s might be stronger. His father, Chris Thorpe, was a running back at Penn State from 1985-1989, and his cousin is none other than former Penn State basketball guard Geno Thorpe. As you might imagine, Penn State is considered among the leaders for the youngest Thorpe.

DE Joshua Kaindoh (6-foot-6, 237 pounds)

Hometown: Bradenton, Florida (IMG Academy)

Notable offers: Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, and Ohio State

Another IMG recruit, Kaindoh is originally from the Baltimore area, which speaks to his current top three of Penn State, Ohio State, and Maryland. Now that he’s in Florida, he’ll see increased attention from SEC schools, but the Nittany Lions made a great first impression when he visited Happy Valley in late March for a spring practice. If Penn State can get Kaindoh back on campus — perhaps for the Michigan game — it’ll go a long way in securing the five-star’s commitment.

DE Yetur Matos (6-foot-5, 235 pounds)

Hometown: Fredericksburg, Virginia (Chancellor)

Notable offers: Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech

Matos is another top-rated defensive end prospect that seemingly has some high interest in the Nittany Lions, having just visited this past weekend for the San Diego State game. Matos won’t be an easy pull though, with Dabo Swinney and Clemson looking to steal the four-star defensive end from Penn State.

DT Fred Hansard (6-foot-3, 305 pounds)

Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey (Hun School)

Notable offers: Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers

Penn State took four defensive tackles in the 2016 class, which means that it might be a light position group in 2017. If the Nittany Lions only take one, Penn State can’t do much better than Hansard. He’s shown strong interest, visiting multiple times in the past year. It’s shaping up to be a Big Ten battle for the four-star, who’s favoring other schools like Rutgers, Ohio State, and Michigan. There’s still a long way to go, but Penn State should be in the thick of things for Hansard.

LB David Adams (6-foot-1, 225 pounds)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Central Catholic)

Notable offers: Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin

Penn State’s 2016 recruiting class has two linebackers committed — Shaka Toney and Cameron Brown — although both look like they could grow into defensive ends. Because of that, Franklin will look to take quite a few true linebackers in the next class, and Adams appears to be one of their top targets. The Nittany Lions were longly perceived to be the leader for the Central Catholic star, but after being recently offered by Notre Dame, this is shaping up to be a classic Penn State-Notre Dame battle.

LB Avery Roberts (6-foot-1, 215 pounds)

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware (Concord)

Notable offers: Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Stanford

Delaware isn’t exactly a hotbed for football talent, but Penn State has had great success there in recent years — Devon Still, Kyle Carter, and Chris Godwin to name a few. Roberts has the potential to be another great one, with Penn State taking notice and vice versa. The linebacker currently has Penn State in his top two alongside Nebraska. Oh, and he wears No. 11.

DB Damani Neal (5-foot-11, 185 pounds)

Hometown: Sterling, Virginia (The Bullis School)

Notable offers: Iowa, Maryland, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Stanford

If you’re interested to know who the next commitment in the 2017 class possibly is, you’re probably looking at him. Neal has already taken three visits to Penn State since last spring, and at this point, it only seems like a matter of time before he jumps on board. Chances are he’ll probably hold off on a commitment until his high school season comes to an end, but look for Neal to become apart of the Penn State class sometime in the near future. It would be shocking if he spurns the Nittany Lions.

DB Paris Ford (6-foot-1, 180 pounds)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Seton-LaSalle)

Notable offers: Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech

Ford’s recruitment could be a wild ride. Penn State has positioned itself nicely, but he could realistically end up at any of Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, or Virginia Tech. He is very close with Penn State’s 2016 target cornerback Damar Hamlin, which could end up being a wild card in his recruitment. Hamlin is favoring the same schools — minus Virginia Tech — so I’d watch for where Hamlin ends up, as it could be where Ford ends up, too.

CB Lamont Wade (5-foot-10, 185 pounds)

Hometown: Clairton, Pennsylvania (Clairton)

Notable offers: Ohio State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, UCLA, and West Virginia

For those who follow recruiting, it feels like Wade has been a prospect for the past six years. In fact, I’m pretty sure he skyped with Joe Paterno. Anyway, Wade is a big time prospect that Penn State’s cornerback recruiting efforts will be focused on. He already has a great relationship with the coaching staff, especially Terry Smith, but Ohio State and Pittsburgh will be difficult to beat.

About the Author

Patrick Koerbler

Patrick Koerbler is a senior Journalism major/History minor from the mean streets of Palmerton, PA. His career goals include becoming the Director of Public Relations for the New York Yankees, and co-hosting a Penn State football podcast with Matt McGloin. Patrick is also a ledge, his interests include sandwiches, and his best friend is Andrew Wiggins. For more fun, you can follow him on Twitter -- @GoodDudePat -- or contact him via email at [email protected] Go Sixers.

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