2011 Freshman Class, Hello! (w/poll)

So it’s done. Penn State has 16 new freshmen, capping a roller coaster year of recruiting. In this post I’ll run down a few things, reflect on the recruiting season that was, and take a look at what could be in store for this class in Happy Valley.

Here is the Position Breakdown for the class, which now includes both Adrian Amos–signed today–and Shyquawn Pullium–a 2010 commit who spent a year at Kiski Prep:

1 Tight End
3 Wide Receivers
4 Offensive Linemen
4 Defensive Linemen
1 Linebacker
2 Defensive Backs
1 Kicker

Here is The 2011 Freshman Class:

Pos 2011 Commits Ht Wt 40 LOI Hometown Verbal
TE Kyle Carter 6-4 231 Y New Castle, DE/William Penn 5/27/10
DE Shawn Oakman 6-8 240 Y Lansdowne, PA/Penn Wood 7/2/10
DE Jordan Kerner 6-4 225 Y Fairview, PA/Fairview 7/7/10
OG Angelo Mangiro 6-3 290 Y Succasunna, NJ/Roxbury 7/25/10
OL Anthony Alosi 6-6 282 Y Princeton, NJ/Hun School 11/14/2010
WR Allen Robinson 6-3 190 Y Orchard Lake, MI/St. Mary’s 11/29/2010
WR Matt Zanellato 6-3 195 Y Burke, VA/Lake Braddock 11/29/2010
LB Ben Kline 6-2 220 Y Dallastown, PA/Dallastown 12/8/2010
OL Anthony Zettel 6-4 235 Y West Branch, MI/Ogemaw Heights 12/28/2010
OL Ryan Nowicki 6-5 272 Y Glendale, AZ/Cactus 1/6/2011
PK Sam Ficken 6-3 180 Y Valparaiso, IN/Valparaiso 1/8/2011
OT Donovan Smith 6-5 257 5.1 Y Owings Mills, MD/Owings Mills 1/8/2010
AP Bill Belton 5-9 191 4.6 Y Atco, NJ/Winslow Township 1/17/2011
DE Deion Barnes 6-5 230 Y Philadelphia, PA/Northeast 1/20/2011
DB Adrian Amos 6-1 200 Y Towson, MD/Calvert Hall 2/2/2011
DB Shyquawn Pullium 6-1 180 Y Erie, PA/Cathedral/Kiski 1/15/2010

Going forward

Was this the best class possible? Not really. But it is more than serviceable, especially considering where it was during the “OMG PENN ST8 IS DOOOOMDZ!@$!” phase in mid-autumn. Most of these guys, while not a majority blue-chip class, are in the mid- to upper-echelon range for a year that was literally stacked against Penn State.

First there was the simple fact that Pennsylvania recruiting SUCKED this year. Yes, Penn State was able to grab a few of the better ones in the state, but even those Keystone Staters that “got away” were not on the same level as past blue-chip misses. Most of Penn State’s recruiting efforts this season had to be focused out of state. And while that shouldn’t be much of an excuse for a national power program like PSU, it does have an effect when going up against home-turfers like Ohio State, the Michigans, and programs that are–in my opinion–very underrated as potential risers in the next few years, like Rutgers (RU snagged Savon Huggins, by the way), Maryland, and my personal sleeper in the east, Virginia.

Next we have the severely limited scholarship slots available for this class. A total of 16 players signed letters of intent yesterday, one of them being from the 2010 class (Pullium). So it was effectively 15 scholarships. That’s not a lot of room.

Defensive lineman Donovan Smith
gave this class a big-time boost.
(Photo: 247sports)

Finally, Penn State made an obvious decision to shift from recruiting the best talent available to recruiting the positions that needed the most attention. That’s where it takes some patience from fans to understand that just because a class doesn’t have a 5-star quarterback, two 4-star running backs, a 5-star defensive end, and a 5-star cornerback, does not mean that class cannot satisfy the team’s needs. Penn State hauled in heavy numbers along the lines, including highly-touted prospects like Mangiro, Barnes, and Smith. I said it earlier this year: When a team knows it’s facing a tough recruiting year, the best thing to do is recruit the trenches. Penn State did that, and I can nearly guarantee it will pay off over the next four years. This class was not a waste by any stretch of the imagination.

I’m not sure any of today’s new Nittany Lions will see the field this fall, as did many from the 2010 freshman class. The only player that may get playing time is Adrian Amos. We’ll go over the depth charts starting next week, and on them you will see that going into the spring, safety is one of the thinnest positions on the team. Behind the two seniors Nick Sukay and Drew Astorino, the only really promising guys are Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong. The rest of this class could–and probably should–redshirt their first year on the team.

There will be much more on these guys, as now they’re on the team and we will have a chance to see what they can do once on campus this summer.

For now, tell us what you think…

Grade PSU’s 2011 Recruiting Class:

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