Penn State compiled one of college football’s most impressive 2018 recruiting classes during the early signing period, finalizing pacts with 22 players. The Nittany Lions then immediately shifted focus to traditional National Signing Day, which occurs annually on the first Wednesday of February.
James Franklin and the Penn State staff will exert one final push with 2018 prospects during these next few weeks, coming out of a “dead period” Friday with ambitions to add more pieces on Feb. 7.
Limited remaining scholarship slots restrict options, but the Nittany Lions plan to maximize this window of time nonetheless.
“We feel pretty confident we’re not done yet,” said Josh Gattis, Penn State offensive recruiting coordinator and receivers coach, during the early signing period. “We feel good with the class that we have but we’re going to continue to add playmakers.”
The Nittany Lions’ haul during that inaugural early signing period (Dec. 20-22) was headlined by top-25 overall talents Micah Parsons (linebacker/defensive end), Ricky Slade (running back) and Justin Shorter (wide receiver).
Jayson Oweh, a 4-star defensive end viewed as a key post-December target, secretly signed with Penn State on Dec. 22. He publicly announced the decision Jan. 4 during the Under Armour All-America Game.
Receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts, a high school teammate and close friend of Parsons, was the lone Nittany Lions commit who didn’t sign in December. He told Land of 10 things are on track for a February signing following an ACT test, so that will push Penn State’s class total to 23 players.
So who are the Nittany Lions chasing as signing day approaches?
For now, we’ll stick with two realistic possibilities. Penn State may be encouraged to step up its pursuit of others depending on how things progress, but there is a clear focus on this pair.
High school: North Canyon (Phoenix)
Size: 6-4, 190 pounds
Composite ranking: No. 40 receiver; No. 228 overall
Other options: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Utah, USC
Solomon Enis, a Penn State legacy, produced more than 2,000 receiving yards as an upperclassman. The son of former Nittany Lions running back Curtis Enis, he visited Happy Valley for the 2017 spring game and the Nov. 18 matchup vs. Nebraska.
Several Penn State signees, including fellow 6-4 receiver Justin Shorter, have pointed to Enis as a primary concern moving forward. Though his recruitment has a strong Pac-12 feel to it, the Nittany Lions seem to be in an enviable position with this talented pass catcher.
“Since The Opening, where we were roommates, I’ve been trying to get him to commit to Penn State,” Shorter said. “He’s been back and forth, back and forth, but we’ll see what happens.”
Assuming Anderson-Butts signs in February, Enis would push Penn State’s receiver total to five players in the 2018 class. He attended the Nittany Lions’ Fiesta Bowl victory in his home state.
Position: Offensive tackle
High School: North Point (Waldorf, Md.)
Size: 6-6, 300 pounds
Composite Ranking: No. 6 offensive tackle; No. 81 overall
Other Options: Ohio State, Virginia Tech
It shapes up as a three-team race for Rasheed Walker, who already used official visits at Penn State and Virginia Tech. He will travel to Ohio State for his final pre-decision campus trip during the weekend of Jan. 20.
The Buckeyes missed on elite in-state tackle Jackson Carman during the early signing period, so Urban Meyer’s pursuit of Walker now takes even greater precedence. The U.S. Army All-American is expected to take his recruitment to the limit and announce a decision Feb. 7.
The Nittany Lions signed three offensive line prospects in December. Penn State, battling the Buckeyes yet again in what figures ultimately to be a Big Ten showdown, would welcome a top-10 tackle duo to campus in 2018 if it’s able to pair Walker with Nana Asiedu.
It might be difficult for other programs to contend with Penn State from a coaching staff standpoint. Tyler Bowen, recently hired by the Nittany Lions to coach tight ends, previously targeted Walker on behalf of Maryland.
“The offensive line coach that I talk with the most is probably Coach [Matt] Limegrover or Coach [Tyler] Bowen,” Walker told Adam Friedman of Rivals.com. “When I found out Coach Bowen was going to Penn State, I smiled a little bit. I like him.”