Penn State recruiting: Nittany Lions complete 2018 class with 23 signees, including 6 top-100 prospects
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Elite OL Rasheed Walker provides the final piece for 2018 Penn State class
James Franklin said Wednesday afternoon Penn State approached National Signing Day “only waiting on one signature.” The Nittany Lions’ patience paid off shortly before 1 p.m. ET when 4-star tackle Rasheed Walker announced his college plans.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound prospect had “a gut feeling that Penn State was home,” according to Callie Caplan of The Washington Post. Walker chose the Nittany Lions from a group of finalists that also featured Ohio State and Virginia Tech, becoming the 23rd and final member of a top-five recruiting class.
Considered the No. 6 tackle and No. 65 overall recruit in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings, this U.S. Army All-American spent official visits at all three universities following his senior season at North Point (Waldorf, Pa.) High School. Persistent efforts on the part of Franklin, offensive line coach Matt Limegrover and other staff members ultimately established a rapport that was difficult to pass up.
This provided a second notable recruiting victory over Big Ten rival Ohio State since December, as the Nittany Lions also beat out the Buckeyes for 4-star New Jersey defensive end Jayson Oweh. Penn State signed four offensive linemen in the 2018 cycle, including two top-10 talents at tackle (Walker and Nana Asiedu) and a top-5 center prospect (Fredrick Scruggs).
“All the coaches talk about how important it is to be really good up front on both sides of the ball,” Franklin said. “When we arrived at Penn State [in January 2014], I think the D-line was a real strength and the O-line we just were lacking some depth that we needed. We’ve worked really hard at that and I think we’ve done a really good job recruiting guys who are good fits here.”
Walker, who held nearly 30 scholarship offers, provides Penn State with one of the nation’s most promising young linemen.
“He’s got tremendous athleticism and length,” Franklin said. “But the thing that’s amazing is you watch his tape and not only is he good in space, which a lot of times you can find offensive tackles that are good pass protectors but they’re not very physical in the run game, but you watch that guy and he is physical. He plays with a nasty streak.”
Walker is one of six top-100 recruits who signed with Penn State this cycle, joining linebacker Micah Parsons (No. 5), receiver Justin Shorter (No. 8), running back Ricky Slade (No. 27), defensive end Jayson Oweh (No. 76) and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher (No. 78).
The previous four recruiting classes under Franklin featured five total top-100 prospects, and created the foundation of a team that won 11 games in each of the past two seasons. This is further proof of rapid recruiting progress for Penn State.
Nittany Lions legacy Solomon Enis elects to remain out west
Family ties to Penn State weren’t enough to sway 4-star receiver Solomon Enis toward Happy Valley. The North Canyon (Phoenix, Ariz.) senior signed with Utah following a Wednesday ceremony at his high school.
Although he listed the Nittany Lions among four finalists, along with Arizona State and Southern California, the trajectory of this recruitment pointed toward a college career in the Pac-12. The son of former star Penn State running back Curtis Enis, it became increasingly apparent recruiting roots were based in the west and Utah emerged as choice.
“I can come in and play right away. I love the coaching staff and how it’s a family environment, so I just felt like it was the best fit for me,” he told Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic.
The Nittany Lions welcomed him to campus twice in 2017, hosting Enis for the April 22 spring game and a Nov. 18 matchup vs. Nebraska. Penn State pledges Justin Shorter and Ricky Slade told Land of 10 in January they were prioritizing Enis in an attempt to add more offensive firepower.
The 6-4, 190-pound pass target collected 110 receptions as an upperclassman and is considered a top-40 prospect at the position. Penn State signed three blue-chip receivers in December, including top-ranked talent Justin Shorter, prior to the departure of position coach Josh Gattis, who accepted a staff role at Alabama.
Franklin mentioned Wednesday afternoon he would have preferred to add another receiver, but the Nittany Lions certainly aren’t lacking for talent there. Penn State also has three rising redshirt freshmen at the position.
Legacy recruitments are never a slam dunk and we see evidence of this every Signing Day. It’s worth noting, however, that early enrolled Nittany Lions safety Isaiah Humphries is the son of former Penn State defensive back Leonard Humphries.
“Throughout the entire process, I expressed to him, ‘It’s your decision,'” Curtis Enis told Fitzgerald. “To see his dream happen in front of me, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Shaquon Anderson-Butts takes JUCO route after lengthy PSU pledge
Shaquon Anderson-Butts emerged as an early Penn State target in the 2018 recruiting cycle and, alongside Harrisburg (Pa.) teammate Micah Parsons, provided memorable moments for Nittany Lions fans. He was the object of peer recruiting from Parsons early on, then those roles reversed when Parsons de-committed last April and Anderson-Butts joined the class July 15.
Parsons arrived at Penn State in January as an early enrollee. Because of academic eligibility issues, Anderson-Butts will attempt to bridge his journey toward Division I football by spending time at a junior college.
The next stop is Iowa Western Community College, whose football program shared those plans Wednesday:
When Anderson-Butts spoke with Land of 10 last month in Orlando, Fla., during Under Armour All-America Game preparation, he sounded optimistic about his ability to enroll at Penn State. There is still a chance he could resurface as a Nittany Lions target down the road, but the 2018 recruiting class must move forward without him following a commitment that spanned nearly seven months.
Anderson-Butts helped lead Harrisburg to an unbeaten regular season in 2017. He caught 31 passes for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, according to MaxPreps.
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