Breaking down Penn State's Signing Day
UNIVERSITY PARK – Signing Day has come and gone and the Nittany Lions have locked down the fifth best recruiting class in the nation, with headliners like Ricky Slade, Micah Parsons and Justin Shorter.
James Franklin and the rest of the Nittany Lion staff pulled together a quality class that addressed a few of the holes in the team including on the offensive and defensive lines, in the secondary and on special teams, although there is always more that can be done.
“So I feel like we addressed a lot of our needs. Probably would have liked to have been able to take another safety in this class. Probably would have liked to take another wide receiver in this class. But besides that, I think for the most part, I think we did very well,” Franklin said at the news conference on Wednesday.
The biggest hole in the Nittany Lions’ roster is at defensive tackles due to the loss of three seniors this year. Penn State was able to land two true defensive tackles and a strong side defensive end that could move inside to tackle. The staff is excited about these players and it shows in how Franklin talks about them.
“I do think we have some things that we've got to get resolved at D-tackle, some things that we've got to get resolved at linebacker, and I think this recruiting class showed that; a guy like P.J. Mustipher is a guy that has the body type that you think he may be able to come in and play as a true freshman, which is unusual at that position and from what I'm hearing about Culpepper and Hawkins, they are approaching it the same way,” Franklin said.
Most Penn State fans are wondering how Saquon Barkley will be replaced. Miles Sanders, a former five-star recruit out of Woodland Hills, Pa., will likely be the starter next year, with incoming 5-star recruit Ricky Slade to help him out. Slade is the number one ranked all-purpose back in the 2018 class.
“Obviously it's hard to ever say you're going to replace Saquon Barkley, but I think what you kind of do is you try to do it at every position to make up for the loss of Saquon. But (Ricky) Slade is a highly-regarded guy who was very productive in high school,” Franklin said.
The last big question for the Nittany Lions is on special teams. With the graduation of Tyler Davis and the transfer Alex Barbir, Penn State is without a true starting kicker on the roster. Two returning walk-ons and incoming freshman, Jake Pinegar, will compete for the starting job. Penn State likes to use one kicker for place kicking and another for kickoffs, so it is unclear who will handle what duties for the team in 2018.
“Yeah, he's (Pinegar) going to have to factor in. We're going to have really good competition at that position,” Franklin said.
Overall, the 2018 recruiting class produced some players that will hopefully mature in studs and added depth in positions in which the Nittany Lions were a little weak. The true impact of this class will likely not be felt until the 2019 or 2020 season, but there are a few guys that can affect the 2018 in a big way.