Tyler Donohue/Land Of 10
Micah Parsons is one of a handful of early enrollees who could contribute right away to Penn State's 2018 team.

Penn State’s early enrollees begin college career; how Nittany Lions can compete again in 2018

Penn State football is the No. 1 topic in We are… Awake every day — but we cover news, notes and analysis from across Nittany Lions sports. Join us each morning to get caught up on everything you missed in the world of Penn State football, recruiting, basketball and more.

A new beginning

Several Penn State recruits are beginning their college careers on Monday. Some will be needed to fill out depth in critical spots on both sides of the ball.

How these new pieces fit into the puzzle will play out over the next few months leading to spring practice in April and the Blue-White game that month.

But there are a handful to keep an eye on and Pennlive’s Greg Pickel has a breakdown of who is arriving early and who has the best chance to play right away.

Contending again

Can Penn State keep this current run going in the 2018 season?

Hard to predict. Injuries and other issues can creep into any season, but as Mark Wogenrich of the Allentown Morning Call writes, the Nittany Lions have themselves positioned properly to make another run at the Big Ten title and either the New Years Six or the College Football Playoff.

From Wogenrich:

A healthy recruiting program and (two coaching departures notwithstanding) a measure of staff stability have Penn State positioned as a Big Ten and national contender for the next five years. Plus, with a friendly schedule forthcoming, the Lions could take another shot in 2018.

The right mix of vets and incoming talent doesn’t hurt either, especially for 2018.

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Corners on the rise

Penn State’s secondary loses a lot going into the 2018 season, but there is plenty of talent coming back to Brent Pry’s defense, including corners Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade.

Wade was highly touted coming out of high school and saw minimal time this past season, but both are expected to contribute heavily next season writes John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times.

On the mend

Ellis Jordan saw time on Penn State’s defensive line in 2017 and figured to be in the rotation for 2018. But his 2018 isn’t off to a great start.

Lions 247’s Andrew Callahan, by way of NBC Sports Washington, writes that Jordan suffered a broken kneecap.

As Callahan writes, it’s uncertain how long Jordan will be out or if the injury will keep him out of spring practice, but this is the second knee injury for Jordan, who a year ago was rehabbing from a torn ACL.

Joining Joe

Former Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman will cut his teeth in the coaching ranks, but won’t be doing it with his alma mater.

Instead, Wartman accepted a graduate assistant position with Joe Moorhead’s staff at Mississippi State, writes Lions 247’s Andrew Callahan.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise to Moorhead, who a season ago, according to Callahan, told reporters that Wartman was most likely to move on to a coaching position post-college football career.

Wartman concluded his playing career with Penn State’s loss in the Rose Bowl to cap the 2016 season.

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