Tyler Donohue/Land of 10
Cornerback Keaton Ellis is one of two prospects committed to Penn State's 2019 recruiting class.

Penn State recruiting mailbag: Targets remain before National Signing Day

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 is another interesting question from Dave, who often sends them our way during Land of 10’s weekly Penn State show on Facebook Live. Everyone is welcome to enter that discussion here at 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

The Nittany Lions signed 22 prospects during college football’s early signing period (Dec. 20-22), leaving limited scholarship slots and intrigue leading toward the traditional National Signing Day (Feb. 7). Penn State also carries a verbal commitment from receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts, who plans to sign in February after completing an ACT test.

The final multi-week “dead period” of this 2018 recruiting cycle ends Friday, so expect Nittany Lions coaches to be active in pursuit of the final pieces of an impressive class. James Franklin anticipates the altered recruiting calendar will create a frenzied final stretch.

“I worry a little bit about this second signing period because there’s a few guys, and a bunch of schools that want those few guys,” he said on Dec. 20. “In the past, schools were trying to still chase 20 guys. Now you’re going to have 20 schools chasing one guy. It’s going to get interesting.”

I do think we’ll witness more late offers than in the past since programs have an opportunity to rebound from recruiting misses. But in reference to Dave’s question, nothing seems imminent in that regard for Penn State.

It’s no secret the Nittany Lions are engaged with long-term targets Solomon Enis and Rasheed Walker. When assessing what lies ahead, this 4-star pair appears to be front and center among potential additions.

Rasheed Walker used an official visit at Penn State in December. (Rasheed Walker/Twitter)

It remains unknown exactly when Enis, a receiver and Nittany Lions legacy, will announce his college choice. The Dec. 20 flip of 4-star receiver Jahan Dotson from UCLA already gives Penn State four anticipated newcomers at the position.

Walker, a top-10 offensive tackle prospect, plans to reveal a decision on signing day, so unless Penn State receives early word that he is heading to Ohio State or Virginia Tech, it’s difficult to see the program going all-in on another offensive lineman.

I would be surprised if Penn State added another defensive lineman. Defensive end Jayson Oweh signed Dec. 22, providing the Nittany Lions with a top-tier talent at the position Franklin particularly prioritized during a media conference only two days earlier. Needs at offensive tackle and receiver were also referenced, with Enis and Walker presumably projected as ideal matches.

In reference to Tyler Friday, a 4-star defensive tackle, it’s probably safe to cross him off the list. The choice is likely down to Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan, with a decision anticipated as soon as this week, according to Brian Dohn of 247Sports.

Penn State was an early contender for Friday, and he listed the Nittany Lions among favorites in November, but the program enjoyed success landing other interior defensive linemen this summer and an official visit never materialized.

With the 2018 cycle winding down, let’s place some spotlight on what lies beyond signing day…

Bryan presents a forward-thinking topic here, and that is exactly what college football recruiting is all about. Anyone who believes Penn State is only now beginning to set its sights on 2019 prospects is severely misinformed.

The Nittany Lions have extended nearly 100 scholarship offers to the current crop of high school juniors. Even back in September, Franklin explained Penn State was investing “60 to 70 percent” of its recruiting efforts toward post-2018 plans.

Penn State staff members will be busy in the upcoming weeks following the conclusion of this dead period, further establishing relationships with 2019 recruits and laying groundwork with elite sophomore and freshman talent. As a result, I think it’s certainly fair to expect the 2019 Nittany Lions class will grow in the near future.

I heard plenty of positive thoughts about Penn State from highly regarded 2019 prospects last week during an Under Armour All-America event in Orlando, Fla.

The Nittany Lions are in the mix for several prized players, including No. 1 overall recruits at offensive tackle (Devontae Dobbs), inside linebacker (Shane Lee) and defensive tackle (Ishmael Sopsher).

“I’m trying to give them a chance,” Sopsher said while discussing his interest in Penn State. “They’re good people. They’re really cool people. We talk on the phone a lot and they keep telling me how they really want me, how they want to get me up there.”

ishmael sopsher-penn state recruiting-class of 2019
Ishmael Sopsher hasn’t visited Penn State yet but lists the program among his top options. (Tyler Donohue/Land of 10)

Those 5-star talents are likely to extend the search for college fits deep into the 2019 recruiting cycle, but I anticipate this Penn State class will swell to at least five or six commits by the end of spring camp.

Just a few on the target board who should be closely monitored: Massachusetts safety Lewis Cine, Virginia linebacker Brandon Smith, New Jersey defensive tackle Antonio Alfano, Rhode Island offensive tackle Xavier Truss and Maryland receiver John Metchie.

The Nittany Lions carry verbal pledges from two 2019 players: New Jersey quarterback Taquan Roberson and local State College cornerback Keaton Ellis.

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.