Max Duggan/Courtesy
Max Duggan, a 2019 quarterback recruit from Iowa, received a Penn State offer in June.

Penn State recruiting mailbag: Focus on Nittany Lions QB prospects, top DE targets

Tyler Donohue

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss 2019 quarterbacks to know, and where things stand with top defensive line prospects.


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

Thanks for starting us off, Justin, and just helping you out here: it’s Garrett Shrader. And yes, he is definitely a quarterback to keep a close eye on as Penn State navigates through the 2019 recruiting cycle.

This 6-foot-5, 190-pound passer picked up a Penn State offer June 4 and later traveled to campus for a July 16 camp in State College. Shrader worked closely with Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, and within a week he added offers from Alabama and Tennessee.

He was tremendous during the Penn State camp, and appears capable of breaking into 5-star territory as his prep career progresses. The Charlotte Christian (N.C.) junior already presents excellent size at the position, and he matches it with a level of athleticism I feel goes a bit unnoticed in early assessments.

He gained 615 yards on the ground in 12 games as a sophomore, and again flashed those wheels during an Aug. 25 victory over Myrtle Beach (S.C.). Shrader rushed for 181 yards and 4 touchdowns on 15 carries, according to Langston Wertz Jr., while completing 25 of 35 throws for 288 yards and 3 scores. Shrader connected on 65 percent of throws in 2016, and his accuracy was apparent while working under the direction of Moorhead.

joe moorhead-garrett-shrader-penn state nittany lions, Big Ten
Garrett Shrader (234) receives instructions from Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead during a July 16 camp.

Personally, I would point to Shrader as the most impressive 2019 quarterback recruit I’ve evaluated in person. However, there are others who have warranted a Nittany Lions offer midway through high school.

Scintillating dual-threat talent Roschon Johnson was the first to land on Penn State’s target board following a sophomore season that featured 2,318 passing yards, 1,650 rushing yards and 56 total touchdowns, according to 247Sports. The Texas Longhorns landed his commitment in July, and considering his status as a Lone Star State standout, it wouldn’t surprise to see him spend two seasons as an unwavering pledge.

A pair of quarterbacks from Big Ten territory round out this early list: Max Duggan of Iowa and Taquan Roberson of New Jersey.

Duggan, a 6-2, 185-pound prospect, landed an offer after attending a June 3 Nittany Lions camp and told me the demands Penn State places on its quarterback are “everything that’s in my game.” Considered a top-10 pro-style passer in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings, he is the son of a former Division I quarterback, displays excellent understanding of offensive philosophy and holds offers from Georgia, Iowa, Nebraska, Ole Miss and several other schools.

Roberson appears primed for a breakout season at DePaul Catholic (Wayne, N.J.), where he plays alongside fellow Penn State target Ronnie Hickman. He is the smallest among this group at 6-foot, 185 pounds, but throws fire. I reviewed film of some late-summer scrimmages and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more powerful arm in this class. His ability to deliver darts while on the move also stands out.

Penn State will continue to assess other quarterbacks as the season moves forward. The Nittany Lions offered 10 quarterbacks on the 2018 recruiting trail, according to 247Sports, with the final offer resulting in a commitment from Will Levis of Connecticut.

Levis will join a quarterback room next year that could still include starter Trace McSorley, who would be a redshirt senior. Redshirt sophomore Tommy Stevens is considered one of college football’s best backups, while freshman Sean Clifford beat out redshirt freshman Jake Zembiec for the No. 3 job this fall.

I see we have another quarterback question in our mailbag. Let’s make this one quick.


Ryan, my man, you’re not crazy. College football recruiting is crazy.

Still, let me offer a piece of advice when it comes to your fascination with Justin Fields, the No. 1 quarterback prospect who previously spent six months pledged to Penn State:

Fields’ June 6 de-commitment probably resulted in a long-lasting “What if?” conversation among Nittany Lions fans, especially if he lives up to the hype. However, Penn State has done well stockpiling quarterback talent and folks will just have to appreciate Fields’s skills on the field for a program such as Florida State or Georgia.

Enough with the QB chats. These guys always get all of the attention. How about a trip to the trenches next?

Joe, the great thing about our weekly Facebook Live show, broadcast here  — shameless plug alert —  at 8 p.m. each Wednesday is you’re never late to the party. As soon as the discussion is done, a complete video is posted to Facebook. With that said, let’s dive into your question on coveted defensive ends Jayson Oweh and Micah Parsons.

As you can imagine since I selected this question, yes, there is news. And it isn’t exactly great for Penn State.

While the Nittany Lions spend Saturday battling Pitt, Oweh and Parsons will explore Ohio State. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is preparing for a monster matchup versus Oklahoma ― and a massive recruiting weekend. Oweh and Parsons are certainly headliners, but a busy weekend of marquee visits lies ahead in Columbus.

Both players are using their first official visit at Ohio State, and they were actually on campus together for the Buckeyes’ Friday Night Lights event July 21. Neither player is expected to commit this weekend, as more official visits lie ahead.

Parsons, who attends Harrisburg (Pa.) High, has trips planned to Alabama and Nebraska this season, while Penn State is in the mix for a postseason official visit prior to his early enrollment at the university of his choice. Oweh, a fast-rising star at Blair Academy (N.J.), is locked in for an official visit to Happy Valley for Penn State’s Nov. 18 game against Nebraska.

If Penn State fails to land either of these prospects, Ohio State very well may be the ultimate destination for both. The same can be said for fellow blue-chip defensive end Tyreke Smith of Cleveland, who is focusing on the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions, Alabama, Oregon and Southern Cal.

Penn State already has 23 players in its recruiting class, and most positions are filled to the brim this cycle. Defensive end remains a primary spot of intrigue, and a pledge from any of these three players I’ve mentioned would represent another enormous boost for the 2018 group.

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.