Join the conversation on Penn State football recruiting right here every Friday! Tyler Donohue, Land of 10’s Nittany Lions reporter, will respond to questions gathered throughout the week. Ask questions by contacting us on Twitter or reaching out during Tyler’s weekly Facebook Live show (8 p.m. ET Thursdays).
Penn State Nittany Lions recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started…
This question comes our way courtesy of @J_Hunter1 on Twitter. Penn State trenches are primed to receive reinforcements on both sides of the football next season. The Nittany Lions currently carry three 4-star commitments — and four total — along the defensive front in this 2018 recruiting cycle. That matches the offensive line class James Franklin has constructed six months shy of National Signing Day.
I’ll get into some details about the strategy on defense later in this mailbag, but for now let’s focus on the topic at hand. Shortly after a commitment on Aug. 11 from 4-star interior offensive lineman Fredrick Scruggs, I wrote about Penn State entering elite territory among offensive line classes across college football.
No other college football program holds pledges from three top-50 offensive tackle prospects, according to 247Sports 2018 composite rankings. Only two schools — Florida State and Texas A&M — match the Nittany Lions blue-chip commitment total on the offensive front.
Scruggs, considered the No. 2 center recruit in composite rankings, is an athletic 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman who primarily played left tackle and defensive end at Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.) last year. The physical makeup and competitiveness of “Juice” indicate he could warrant early attention in State College.
“With the addition of Juicey to our offensive line, future defenses will have a tough time trying to get by,” Penn State linebacker commit Jesse Luketa said during our post-pledge conversation. “Juice is an extremely talented individual. What stands out the most is how well he moves in space and his feet. … We’re beyond ecstatic to have him join the family.”
Scruggs adds to the previous trio that had been in place: Nana Asiedu, Bryce Effner and Antwan Reed. Each of those three are listed as tackles in composite rankings, headlined by a top-10 talent at the position in Asiedu.
— Nana Asiedu (@BigNana_) August 7, 2017
This is already an outstanding collection of offensive linemen, certainly in consideration as one of Penn State’s finest in the modern recruiting era, and it may not be a finished product. This question referenced Rasheed Walker, a 4-star tackle from Maryland. He is absolutely on the radar for one of the final additions in this class.
Walker, a 6-6, 300-pound senior at North Point (Waldorf, Md.) High School, joined several Nittany Lions commits on campus July 15 for Lasch Bash festivities. PJ Mustipher, a 4-star defensive tackle and fellow Maryland product, told me he is pushing Walker toward joining him in a Penn State uniform.
The addition of Walker would solidify this offensive class as one of college football’s best, regardless of which programs add top-tier talent in the months ahead. Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are among other contenders for the U.S. Army All-American.
Alright, feel free to be super excited about the talent Nittany Lions offensive line coach Matt Limegrover will welcome to the field next year. Let’s carry on toward another question.
Hearing anybody that will be an early enrollee?
— Nick Mortagua (@NickMortagua) August 11, 2017
Absolutely, Nick. A few members of the 2018 Penn State class have already revealed intentions to arrive on campus in January.
For those who are a bit unfamiliar with the process, early enrollment is available for high school seniors who complete academic requirements and qualify for spring semester admission. This requires some long-term planning, and ultimately some athletes simply prefer to remain in their hometown for a few more months while competing in winter or spring sports.
Penn State welcomed four early enrollees in the 2017 recruiting class, and that seems to be about the likely range for 2018 newcomers. Luketa, tight end Zack Kuntz and safety Isaiah Humphries have expressed plans to arrive in Happy Valley this winter, and that group could grow.
“I’m ready to learn and ready to work,” Luketa said. “I want to get into the weight room with those guys and prepare my body for college football. It will also allow me to grow more comfortable around campus and become a familiar face with my teammates.”
In my opinion, early arrival is especially crucial for Kuntz. He is a top-tier tight recruit with excellent athleticism and consistent production at Camp Hill (Pa.) High. However, his 6-8, 221-pound frame will require more mass in order for him to emerge as an immediate difference-maker in Power 5 football.
“After talking it over with my family and my coaches, I think it’s the best decision for me,” Kuntz told Greg Pickel of PennLive in June. “It’s a great advantage getting to do spring ball with the team, and for me, a big part of football is I’m going to need to put on weight, and that’s something I’ll be able to do under the coaches’ guidance and everything.”
This is key since Penn State will lose preseason All-American Mike Gesicki at the position after this season. The passing game could also gain an immediate boost from 5-star receiver Justin Shorter, who told me earlier this summer he still hasn’t ruled out the possibility of early enrollment.
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