Recruiting Talk: Offensive Line, Linebackers, And Five-Star Recruits
Spring practice is over, which means the focus for James Franklin and the rest of the coaching staff has shifted squarely to recruiting for the next couple of months. To this point, the Nittany Lions have built a solid — albeit small — eight man class which is currently ranked No. 16 in the nation according to 247Sports composite rankings. Headlined by quarterback Sean Clifford (Cincinnati, OH), offensive guard C.J. Thorpe (Pittsburgh, PA), and linebacker Dylan Rivers (Stephens City, PA), Penn State has done an adequate job of filling its needs, but there’s still a long way to go in the recruiting season.
What’s Going On At Linebacker?
Going into next season, Penn State will only have five scholarship linebackers: Jason Cabinda, Jake Cooper, Manny Bowen, Shaka Toney, and Cameron Brown, with the latter two potentially outgrowing the position. So with that being the case, linebacker was perhaps the biggest need for the Linebacker U to address. While he’s a good one, the aforementioned Rivers is the only one in the class, with Penn State missing out on two top-targets in David Adams (Notre Dame) and Avery Roberts (Nebraska).
So where does Penn State go from here? Fortunately, there’s still talent out there to be had. Fresh off a visit for the Blue-White game, Jordan Anthony (Brandenton, FL) has the Nittany Lions in his top group. Meanwhile Penn State might be the leader for Nathan Proctor (Indian Head, MD), although neither prospect appears anywhere near ready to make a commitment.
Offensive Line Nearly Wrapped Up
For the third consecutive year, James Franklin and company did well on the offensive line front. Thorpe is the most talented of the group, but Robert Martin (Montvale, NJ) and Michael Miranda (Stow, OH) are both solid three-star prospects which strong regional offer lists.
Beyond the three that are committed, keep an eye on Andrew Stueber (Darien, CT). He might not have the highest ranking, but Stueber has flown under the radar mostly due to playing in Connecticut. He’s exactly what the Penn State staff is looking for in an offensive tackle — good athlete with a terrific frame (6-foot-6, 285 pounds), very similar to class of 2016 prospect Alex Gellerstedt.
If the Nittany Lions can land Stueber, it’s expected they wouldn’t take another offensive lineman, but it appears Penn State would hold a spot for Robert Hainsey (Brandenton, FL) no matter who’s in the class. The Pennsylvania-to-Florida product once looked like a heavy Penn State lean, but that no longer appears to be the case. Michigan and Michigan State have pulled even with the Nittany Lions, and might have even taken the lead. Regardless, Hainsey’s recruitment will probably go the distance, and a strong year on the field could help the Nittany Lions in a big way.
Other Top Targets
Although no one is privy to James Franklin’s recruiting big board, one can only presume that topping the list is defensive end Joshua Kaindoh (Brandenton, FL), cornerback Lamont Wade (Clairton, PA), and running back D’Andre Swift (Philadelphia, PA). All three are elite talents that should eventually end up as five-star prospects, and Penn State is squarely in the mix for the trio.
Kaindoh has been all over the place in recent months, reportedly favoring Penn State to Notre Dame and even Maryland. Many were actually expecting Kaindoh to commit to his hometown Terrapins last week, but he shockingly left Maryland out of his top four. There are currently rumors that Kaindoh will be committing May 3, but that remains to be seen. Regardless of a potential announcement, this is a recruitment that should go the distance to signing day.
Swift’s recruitment has been much quieter, as he doesn’t talk to the media a ton, but it appears that Penn State is trailing Georgia here. The Philadelphia native has taken visits to Athens, Georgia twice in the last month; once for a spring practice and then for the spring game. It’ll be critical for Penn State to get him back on campus in the coming months.
And finally, there’s Wade. The stud cornerback was once believed to be an Ohio State or Pitt lean, but in recent weeks it seems as though the Nittany Lions have made up a ton of ground and may even lead. Wade visited Happy Valley for the Blue-White game and then returned for another visit this past weekend, but don’t expect his recruitment to end anytime soon either.