Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We have answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss the program’s pursuit of premier defensive linemen and the potential of quarterback commit Taquan Roberson.
Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started.
This opening question comes courtesy of @phillyphanpsu on Twitter. There’s been plenty of speculation about 5-star defensive end prospect Micah Parsons throughout this recruitment, and that noise should continue to intensify as his decision date nears.
Parsons, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior at Harrisburg (Pa.) High School, plans to go public with a commitment Dec. 20. This is when the inaugural early signing period (Dec. 20-22) begins, so it’s essentially a new-age signing-day announcement.
As for this being “almost a lock” for Penn State, well, I’d be careful to go that far with expectations. Parsons did spend 14 months pledged to the program prior to his de-commitment on April 23, but this process has been largely defined by unpredictability.
Ohio State and Nebraska both emerged as potential leaders this offseason and through the early stages of the season, but dynamics with both have changed. Based on conversations I’ve had with folks in Columbus and Harrisburg, the relationship between Parsons and the Buckeyes changed following his official visit on Sept. 9. Nebraska, meanwhile, is dealing with uncertainty regarding long-term leadership and its recruiting efforts have become tenuous as a result.
Oklahoma received an official visit last month, and despite a lack of substantial history with Parsons, I get the sense the Sooners may make a real push here. Parsons told Brian Linder of PennLive last Saturday that he plans to use his final two official visits to Georgia and Penn State.
A previous trip to Athens, Ga., impressed the Parsons family, and it’s hard to ignore the success Georgia has enjoyed under coach Kirby Smart. Parsons told me in September the Bulldogs are one of a few teams that have expressed interest in using him on both sides of the ball (he is a 1,000-yard rusher with nearly 30 total touchdowns this season).
There are few surprises when it comes to his rapport with Penn State. James Franklin extended an offer to Parsons during his freshman year and both parties have maintained contact since his de-commitment. Harrisburg teammate and close friend Shaquon Anderson-Butts pledged to the Nittany Lions in July, while former teammate Damion Barber is a freshman defensive lineman.
It wouldn’t be wise to label anything in this recruitment a lock, but momentum is pointing toward Happy Valley. Entering the season, I placed odds at Parsons ending up with Penn State at less than 40 percent. Now I’m inclined to settle in at the 70-percent range.
As for the second part of this question, regarding 4-star offensive tackle Rasheed Walker and 4-star receiver Solomon Enis, there’s more recent information on the latter. Enis, a 6-4, 190-pound prospect from North Canyon (Phoenix, Ariz.), will use an official visit at Penn State on Nov. 18 when the team hosts Nebraska, according to Sean Fitz of 247Sports.
Enis, the son of former Nittany Lions star running back Curtis Enis, is also fielding interest from Pac-12 programs.
The pursuit of defensive linemen continues to be a compelling aspect of this final 2018 recruiting cycle stretch, so let’s keep our focus in the trenches…
@TDsTake If PSU gets 1 or 0 of Oweh, Parsons, or Smith do you think they push for Friday? If so, what are the chances 9f getting him?
— Justin Miller (@jtown1875) November 8, 2017
Thanks to Justin for the question on Twitter, and it brings up a timely point about Penn State recruiting. The Nittany Lions are in an enviable situation, sitting among top contenders for three elite defensive ends: Parsons, Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith.
I tend to lean toward the outcome of Penn State landing two of these players, though there is certainly a chance the Nittany Lions are left searching elsewhere after missing on at least a pair. Justin brings up Tyler Friday as a possible primary target, and I think that’s already the case.
Friday, a 6-3, 260-pound prospect at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) fits the mold of athletic linemen who presents options for coaching staffs.
“I have the strength to play inside and the speed to play outside,” he told me following a camp in New Jersey in April.
This is similar to the skill set of current Nittany Lions commits Judge Culpepper and Aeneas Hawkins. Friday, considered the No. 3 defensive tackle and a top-100 recruit in 247Sports’ composite rankings, isn’t someone we’ve highlighted lately at Land of 10 because his recruitment has been relatively quiet and things have heated up between Penn State and a few other blue-chip linemen.
Friday released a top-five list Monday night featuring Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami and UCLA. There remains some mystery with what lies ahead since he’s yet to set any official visits, according to Brian Dohn of 247Sports. A commitment announcement isn’t likely to occur here until near National Signing Day (Feb. 7).
If that is the case, it will provide Penn State with an opportunity to assess where things stand in its crowded 2018 class. By then, Franklin will know the team’s fate with all three defensive ends and Walker, who is expected to decide Jan. 6 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Friday is definitely a recruit to keep tabs on. I hear at least one SEC powerhouse is primed to make a run at him, which could alter his outlook regarding top options.
After so much attention on defense, let’s shift over to an offensive standout…
Ronny Walters presented this question during our weekly Facebook Live show, which you can join here at 8 p.m. Wednesdays. The short answer here is I believe Taquan Roberson is very good. Is he 5-star good? Well, that’s a different discussion and one that requires continued evaluation of him and the entire 2019 quarterback class.
Roberson, currently considered a 3-star recruit in the 247Sports 2019 composite, committed to Penn State on Oct. 26. He is enjoying a stellar junior season, completing 66 percent of passes for 2,112 yards and 23 touchdowns, while tallying 433 yards and 4 scores on the ground.
Earlier this week, I focused on why Roberson’s skill set is an excellent match for the Nittany Lions offensive attack. Check out that content for an in-depth look at what he brings to the football field.
In my evaluation, Roberson is a 4-star prospect at this point. His 6-foot stature will always hold him back in the eyes of some analysts, but a lack of prototypical height didn’t prevent Tate Martell (Ohio State) and Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) from achieving 5-star status during recent recruiting cycles.
Roberson has largely overwhelmed opponents this fall while dealing with a difficult schedule. His decision-making, lack of turnovers (5 interceptions), arm strength and athleticism are all traits you search for in a blue-chip quarterback.
Regardless of his final star rating next winter, Penn State picked up an impressive playmaker in Roberson.
Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State recruiting mailbags here.
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