Have Penn State football recruiting questions? Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue will answer a Recruiting Question of the Day every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can ask him your questions on Twitter or on Facebook. Find our previous questions and answers here.
Our latest Penn State Nittany Lions Recruiting Question of the Day comes from Robert Glovan on Facebook.
The progression of Penn State’s linebackers group has been a popular topic this offseason. While assessing an evolving Nittany Lions roster, it’s natural to prioritize this position after the exit of three key contributors — Manny Bowen, Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith — from the 2017 squad.
Penn State defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Pry is undoubtedly focused on finding long-term solutions during spring practice, and competition should continue into preseason camp this summer. Both veterans and newcomers are vying for reps as the Nittany Lions staff works to assemble its depth chart.
It might not take long for an acclaimed 2018 recruiting class to make its mark in this area. Top-ranked signee Micah Parsons is a noted contender for middle linebacker duties, while fellow mid-year enrollees Jesse Luketa and Nick Tarburton also have made positive early impressions.
Penn State signed four linebackers in its 2018 class. Charlie Katshir, who spent significant time at safety during his Cumberland Valley (Pa.) High School career, will join the early enrolled trio on campus in June.
It’s a talented bunch of additions at linebacker that should push more experienced members of the Nittany Lions roster to elevate their performance throughout 2018 season preparations.
Robert, who submitted his question during our weekly Penn State football recruiting show on Facebook Live show (8 p.m. Wednesdays here), wants to learn about the potential shape of “Linebacker U” beyond the upcoming season. It’s an appropriate time to address this question, considering the week thus far has shed some light on where things stand with key recruits.
Brandon Smith, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect who attends Louisa County (Mineral, Va.) High School, has attended several events in Happy Valley. Land of 10 recently learned the 5-star recruit is scheduled to return to campus April 7.
Considered the No. 1 inside linebacker and a top-20 overall talent in the 247Sports 2019 composite rankings, his past trips to State College include the 2017 Lasch Bash last July and a Penn State victory over Pittsburgh. Smith, who once again will travel to town alongside several family members, also is slated to spend time at Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State next week.
Smith also has scheduled his first official visit (April 20-22 at Texas A&M), and it remains to be seen how many others he’ll utilize leading up to an anticipated preseason commitment. He possesses the length of a defensive end, and an eventual transition there isn’t out of the question, but it’s safe to assume Smith is a valued commodity on Penn State’s linebacker wish list.
The Mid-Atlantic region also is home to 4-star Baltimore linebacker Shane Lee, who has mentioned Penn State among his most compelling contenders. Lee’s recruitment is heavy on Big Ten influence, and at this point it wouldn’t surprise to see him ultimately play at Beaver Stadium in a visitors’ uniform.
The Nittany Lions started strong with top-ranked Texas linebacker Marcel Brooks, who has roots in Virginia and family ties in Maryland. He initially called Penn State a “dream school” and later placed the program among his top options. However, his recruitment is now down to SEC rivals Alabama and LSU ahead of a planned June 25 announcement.
Only one uncommitted high school junior in Pennsylvania has a Nittany Lions offer. It belongs to linebacker Andre White, a Harrisburg standout who landed on Penn State’s target board in December.
The Nittany Lions have enjoyed recent success pursuing Harrisburg players, signing Parsons and defensive lineman Damion Barber in each of the last two recruiting classes. White, a 6-3, 217-pound playmaker who led the Cougars in tackles as a junior, has seen his recruitment rise this month.
A cross-country journey to California featured MVP honors at Nike’s The Opening San Francisco regional camp, and Southern Cal extended an offer upon an ensuing university visit. Texas A&M and West Virginia also entered the mix during recent weeks, presenting an array of options that could complicate Penn State’s pursuit.
Keith Maguire is another in-state linebacker to keep tabs on. The Nittany Lions haven’t offered yet, but premier Power 5 programs have begun lining up in bunches for his signature. Maguire, a 6-2, 215-pound Malvern Prep star, has added offers from Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska since late January.
Other names to know on Penn State’s 2019 linebacker board include Lance Dixon (West Bloomfield, Mich.), Osita Ekwonu (Charlotte, N.C.) and Allen Smith (Loganville, Ga.). Smith, who plays for Peach State powerhouse Grayson High School, listed the Nittany Lions in a top-5 group he tweeted Tuesday.
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