Penn State’s spring game festivities Saturday in Beaver Stadium featured a blend of the program’s past, present and future contributors. Current Nittany Lions players competed in the Blue-White Game, while those moving on — and moving in — also received attention.
Saquon Barkley and a slew of 2017 standouts received a warm in-game ovation for their role in Penn State’s Fiesta Bowl victory. Several of them left behind program records and now await their fate at the NFL draft later this week.
Earlier in the afternoon, shortly before kickoff, members of a highly acclaimed 2018 recruiting class were introduced to the crowd. This gathering reunited a group that finished fifth overall in the 247Sports composite rankings.
“It was just special because all those visits, all the private conversations we had about our goals, led up to that moment,” defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins told Land of 10. “We are hungry. We plan on giving everything we have.”
Quarterback Will Levis described it as a long-awaited afternoon.
“It had been about four months since we had all seen each other, so it was great to catch up and continue to build our relationships,” he said. “It was an extremely special moment when we all got lined up and introduced on the field prior to the game. It’s certainly something I’ll never forget.”
Among these 23 signees, six arrived on campus in January as early enrollees. The remaining 17 prospects are set to arrive in May and June, joining and completing Penn State’s 2018 roster.
These incoming freshmen were presented to Penn State fans, one-by-one, on Saturday. In case you missed the ceremony, or simply need a reminder of who is heading to Happy Valley, here’s a review.
OL Nana Asiedu — North Stafford HS (Stafford, Va.)
When he committed to Penn State: April 22, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 8 tackle; No. 116 overall; No. 3 in Virginia
Nana Asiedu pledged to Penn State prior to the 2017 Blue-White Game. A former star tight end, Asiedu now stands nearly 6-foot-7 and weighs 290 pounds. One of two top-10 tackles who signed with the Nittany Lions, he is high school teammates with prized Penn State running back target Devyn Ford.
DL Judge Culpepper — Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
When he committed to Penn State: July 14, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 17 strongside defensive end; No. 402 overall; No. 71 in Florida
Judge Culpepper, the son of former Florida Gators star and longtime NFL defensive lineman Brad Culpepper, provides versatility in the trenches. He is expected to fill an interior role. Culpepper, who also shined at tight end for Plant, collected 84 tackles, including 13 for loss, and 8 sacks in 2017.
WR Jahan Dotson — Nazareth HS (Pa.)
When he committed to Penn State: Dec. 20, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 36 receiver; No. 192 overall; No. 6 in Pennsylvania
Jahan Dotson emerged as a 1,000-yard receiver and Pennsylvania state track and field champion by the end of his sophomore year. He earned all-state honors as a senior, snagging 62 passes for 889 yards and 15 touchdowns. Dotson initially pledged to UCLA but flipped his commitment to Penn State during the early signing period.
OL Bryce Effner — Metea Valley HS (Aurora, Ill.)
When he committed to Penn State: May 6, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 49 tackle; No. 637 overall; No. 8 in Illinois
The Penn State staff has expressed optimism that Bryce Effner can handle duties across the offensive line, so it remains to be seen whether his ultimate collegiate landing spot resides at tackle or inside. He earned all-conference honors in each of the past two seasons.
TE Pat Freiermuth — Brooks School (North Andover, Mass.)
When he committed to Penn State: Aug. 16, 2016
247Sports composite ranking: No. 9 tight end; No. 224 overall; No. 1 in Massachusetts
Pat Freiermuth is the second top-10 tight end recruit to end up at Penn State since 2016, when potential starter Danny Dalton signed (Dalton was ranked No. 9 by 247Sports). He’ll join fellow freshman Zack Kuntz, an early enrollee, at the position. Freiermuth averaged 23.6 yards per receptions as a senior, and a member of The Opening staff identified him as one of this class’ most “college-ready” tight ends.
WR Daniel George — Oxon Hill HS (Md.)
When he committed to Penn State: July 16, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 46 receiver; No. 274 overall; No. 8 in Maryland
Daniel George starred on both sides of the ball at Oxon Hill, plucking 8 interceptions in 2017 while lining up at defensive back. He collected 61 receptions for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, adding 4 scores on special teams. George is also a relay and hurdles star, and he aims to add more state championships to his high school accolades this spring.
DT Aeneas Hawkins — Archbishop Moeller HS (Cincinnati)
When he committed to Penn State: Aug. 10, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 31 defensive tackle; No. 450 overall; No. 16 in Ohio
Aeneas Hawkins has some serious football lineage, as his father (Artrell Hawkins) played defensive back in the NFL for nearly a decade and his uncle (Andrew Hawkins) spent six seasons in the league at receiver. Aeneas Hawkins built his own reputation early in high school, securing 170 tackles and 25 sacks though the first three campaigns.
LB Charlie Katshir — Cumberland Valley HS (Mechanicsburg, Pa.)
When he committed to Penn State: Feb. 2, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 34 outside linebacker; No. 544 overall; No. 17 in Pennsylvania
An all-state selection at defensive back, Charlie Katshir is expected to transition into full-time linebacker duties during his days in State College. This do-it-all athlete made an impact in every phase for Cumberland Valley last season. Katshir totaled 715 receiving yards, 366 rushing yards, 15 total touchdowns, 45 tackles, 4 interceptions and converted 15 extra-point attempts.
QB Will Levis — Xavier HS (Middletown, Conn.)
When he committed to Penn State: July 15, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 28 pro-style quarterback; No. 654 overall; No. 2 in Connecticut
Will Levis saw his recruitment rise during the spring of 2017 when scholarship offers arrived from across Power 5 programs. He journeyed to Happy Valley for a mid-July camp, earning an offer and committing the following morning. Levis collected 2,793 passing yards and 33 total touchdowns in 2017.
CB Jordan Miner — Wiregrass Ranch HS (Wesley Chapel, Fla.)
When he committed to Penn State: July 6, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 31 cornerback; No. 349 overall; No. 60 in Florida
Jordan Miner’s commitment kicked off an incredibly productive July for Penn State on the recruiting trail, and his decision required only one campus visit. A three-time all-Sunshine Athletic Conference selection, he filled the stat sheet in 2017. Though he wasn’t routinely targeted on defense, Miner tallied 39 tackles, 4 interceptions and 5 pass deflections. He produced 1,183 all-purpose yards and 9 touchdowns.
DT PJ Mustipher — McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.)
When he committed to Penn State: Aug. 7, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 5 defensive tackle; No. 78 overall; No. 5 in Maryland
PJ Mustipher captured a second straight Maryland state wrestling championship last winter, and he also enjoyed a dominant prep football career. The younger brother of Notre Dame offensive lineman Sam Mustipher, he earned all-state honors as a junior and a senior. Mustipher recorded 17 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in 2017, and finished his high school career with 45 sacks.
DE Jayson Oweh — Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.)
When he committed to Penn State: Dec. 22, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 4 strongside defensive end; No. 76 overall; No. 2 in New Jersey
Jayson Oweh focused on basketball at the start of his high school career before putting on football pads as a junior, which resulted in dozens of offers. He wasted no time validating the hype last fall, securing 60 tackles — 10 for loss — and 13 sacks in five games. Oweh is among college football’s most compelling “high ceiling” prospects.
K Jake Pinegar — Centennial (Ankeny, Iowa)
When he committed to Penn State: July 16, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 6 kicker
Jake Pinegar earned a Penn State offer while in town for a Nittany Lions camp, and he returned home as a member of the class. An impressive athlete who also enjoyed success at receiver and defensive back during his prep career, Pinegar connected on 9 of 13 field-goal attempts in 2017, displaying elite long-distance range. He will compete for a starting role this summer.
OL Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs — Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.)
When he committed to Penn State: Aug. 4, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 4 center; No. 233 overall; No. 8 in Pennsylvania
Fredrick Scruggs was the best player on the field for Pennsylvania powerhouse Cathedral Prep, which compiled a 49-3 record during his four seasons. A two-time all-state selection, he dominated both sides of the trenches to help set a commanding tone. Along with his efforts at tackle, he collected 22 tackles for loss and 9 sacks on defense as an upperclassman.
WR Justin Shorter — South Brunswick HS (N.J.)
When he committed to Penn State: Aug. 6, 2016
247Sports composite ranking: No. 1 receiver; No. 8 overall; No. 1 in New Jersey
Justin Shorter spent more time committed to Penn State than any player in this class, and following his signing James Franklin called him “as good a high school wide receiver that I’ve ever seen, on film and in person.” Now 6-4 and 220 pounds, Shorter ascended more than 150 spots in composite rankings between his junior season and Signing Day. Shorter caught 7 touchdowns in a run-heavy offense last fall, helping South Brunswick secure a state championship.
RB Ricky Slade — C.D. Hylton HS (Woodbridge, Va.)
When he committed to Penn State: Feb. 3, 2017
247Sports composite ranking: No. 1 all-purpose back; No. 27 overall; No. 1 in Virginia
Ricky Slade lived up to his do-it-all billing in 2017, accounting for 2,785 all-purpose yards and 40 touchdowns. This scintillating playmaker doesn’t only rely on elite speed, as he has the hands and vision to develop into a formidable difference-maker as a receiver, rusher and kick returner. Does that skill set sound familiar, Nittany Lions fans?
OL Rasheed Walker — North Point (Waldorf, Md.)
When he committed to Penn State: Feb. 7, 2018
247Sports composite ranking: No. 6 tackle; No. 65 overall; No. 4 in Maryland
Rasheed Walker became the final member of this class on National Signing Day, when he chose Penn State over fellow finalists Ohio State and Virginia Tech. He helped lead North Point to its first state semifinal appearance last season, punishing opponents on both sides of the line. He erased defenders as a blocker, while doing major damage on defense (63 tackles and 11 sacks).