Land of 10/file photo
Jayson Oweh remains a primary Penn State target.

Penn State recruiting mailbag: Early-impact signees; prospects to watch in coming weeks

Tyler Donohue

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss 2018 signees who may make an immediate impact and remaining targets beyond the early signing period.

Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started.

This seems like a fitting way to start, considering we’re always looking toward the future in college football recruiting. The Nittany Lions signed 21 high school seniors on Wednesday, securing commitments from three 5-star recruits while building a 2018 class currently listed fourth overall in 247Sports composite rankings.

Despite an extremely successful experience at the start of the inaugural early signing period, Penn State remains focused on finding more talent. This cycle will be completed Feb. 7, which is the traditional National Signing Day, so a crucial seven weeks lie ahead.

“I think we’ll have some more action in the next day or so,” Penn State coach James Franklin said Wednesday. “Then we could have some more action with guys that we’re still involved with for the second signing day. There are still some moving parts out there.”

Franklin and Nittany Lions recruiting coordinators Josh Gattis and Terry Smith made it very clear there are a few particular remaining positions of interest looking ahead. Defensive end, offensive tackle and receiver figure to be primary concerns during the weeks ahead, which comes as no surprise considering the targets we’ve discussed during recent weeks.

Gattis, who serves as Penn State receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator, addressed these goals Wednesday.

“We’ve still got some needs. We’ve got a need at receiver, we’ve got a need at offensive tackle, and we’re going to keep recruiting,” Gattis said. “We feel pretty confident we’re going to address those needs in the future and a lot of people are going to be excited about who we address them with.”

The next key commitment date Penn State fans should be aware of occurs after the holidays. Defensive end targets Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith plan to reveal their commitments Jan. 4 during the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla.

tyreke smith-the opening finals-ohio state recruiting-buckeyes
Tyreke Smith has a top-five list, but Penn State and Ohio State seem to be the main contenders. (Land of 10/file photo)

Beyond that, things are a bit more unknown.

Receiver Solomon Enis, a standout from Arizona who is the son of former Penn State running back Curtis Enis, remains an intriguing target. The Nittany Lions are also still navigating a recruitment with Harrisburg (Pa.) receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts, who committed to the program July 15 but didn’t sign Wednesday.

It’s seemingly been Rasheed Walker-or-bust on the offensive line since August, but there’s now an added wrinkle in his recruitment. Ohio State, another top contender for the top-10 tackle, missed on 5-star in-state lineman Jackson Carman on Wednesday when he committed to Clemson. The Buckeyes may be increasingly encouraged to chase Walker.

At this time, I anticipate Oweh will be the next addition to this class.

Let’s continue to address topics regarding a talented group of 2018 recruits…

This is another timely discussion since that quickly become the focus of Penn State fans. The recruiting process can become enamoring, but ultimately this whole deal boils down to one key question:

What can you do to help our program compete for championships?

It may not be glamorous, but I believe kicker Jake Pinegar has the best opportunity among the 2018 signees to start early for Penn State. The Ankeny (Iowa) Centennial High School standout encounters an interesting situation on special teams.

Nittany Lions kicker Tyler Davis will move on after the Fiesta Bowl, while backup kicker Alex Barbir already announced intentions to enroll at a different university next year. That presumably will leave Pinegar as the only scholarship kicker on Penn State’s roster.

“Never got a chance to talk to [Barbir] that much, but I wish him the best of luck wherever he ventures to next,” Pinegar told Land of 10. “I planned on coming in and making an impact as much as possible anyhow. It obviously opens up space for the special teams, but I was working toward being the guy from Day 1 and that focus hasn’t changed.”

Beyond Pinegar, members of this Nittany Lions class must compete against scholarship veterans.

Franklin sounded confident that Micah Parsons, a 5-star recruit who signed Wednesday, will be in the mix to claim starting duties at middle linebacker next season. Receiver Justin Shorter and running back Ricky Slade, both 5-star signees, may also make a rapid move up the depth chart.

It’s important to note that only three of 22 players who signed with Penn State in 2017 actually avoided a redshirt this season, so there will be substantial competition on the roster among young athletes at various positions.

Let’s keep the focus on future Penn State plans with our last question.

Well James, you won’t get to see all of the 2018 signees at Beaver Stadium in the spring, but there should be a chance to witness at least a few in action. Penn State is anticipating early enrollment from six players next month.

The Nittany Lions will welcome the following freshmen to campus in a few weeks:

Any of those athletes can compete in the Blue-White game in April. It’s always exciting to see new talent in your team’s uniform, so keep an eye out for these newcomers next time there is action on the field in Happy Valley.

Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags here.