Penn State Recruiting Mailbag: Plan for top OT target Rasheed Walker; can Micah Parsons play linebacker?

Have Penn State football recruiting questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Penn State recruiting mailbag to discuss Nittany Lions recruiting. This week, we discuss a key target on the offensive line and the potential of Micah Parsons at linebacker.

Penn State recruiting efforts are relentless, so we always have plenty to address here. Let’s get started…

Our first question comes via Twitter from @jparquette11.

Thanks for always tuning in, Jason, and I’m glad you were able to watch Friday morning. For others who might have missed our latest Facebook Live session, it posts to our Land of 10 Penn State page after each recording. You can check out the new edition here, as we discussed the impact of James Franklin’s contract extension, the Nittany Lions dangerous passing attack and plenty of recruiting topics during a 70-minute show.

Before we plunge into Jason’s question, I have two quick scheduling updates for everyone as football season arrives.

  1. This recruiting notebook will publish Thursday afternoons instead of Friday. 
  2. Our weekly Facebook Live show is moving to 8 p.m. Wednesday instead of Thursday.

With those formalities out of the way, let’s examine the situation surrounding Rasheed Walker, a 4-star offensive tackle from North Point (Waldorf, Md.) High School. The 6-foot-6, 300-pound prospect is a U.S. Army All-American who claims nearly 30 scholarship offers.

Considered the No. 11 prospect at his position and a top-100 overall recruit in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings, Walker seemingly is the last viable option for Penn State among uncommitted offensive linemen.

Things were trending toward this realization following the Aug. 4 addition of 4-star center prospect Fredrick Scruggs. Now there is even more certainty as junior-college tackle T.J. Bradley committed to Maryland last weekend. Though Bradley held a Nittany Lions offer and attends nearby Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., the potential for this pairing appeared to decrease as scholarship spots dwindled during recent months.

Barring an unexpected commitment flip from a top-tier offensive lineman currently pledged to another program, I do get the sense it’s a Walker-or-bust approach for Penn State right now. The Nittany Lions are a unanimous selection to land him in the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions, so analysts like me are fairly confident he’ll land in Happy Valley. However, Walker keeps things close to the vest with recruiting, and you won’t come across a lot of insight directly from him. Something I know for sure is Penn State commits are chasing him pretty hard, especially fellow 4-star Maryland product PJ Mustipher.

The Nittany Lions carry three top-50 tackle recruits in this 2018 cycle: Nana Asiedu, Bryce Effner and Antwan Reed. Adding Walker to the equation would give Penn State one of its most promising offensive line classes in program history.

The route toward that outcome might not be as simple as the Crystal Ball predictions indicate, however. Walker looks likely to utilize at least a few official visits, if not all five. Virginia Tech is a potential destination, though it could come down to a trio of Big Ten teams.

Maryland and Ohio State join Penn State as primary contenders in this pursuit. Regarding Jason’s question about whether Walker is a “take” for the Buckeyes, our top-notch Land of 10 recruiting-coverage team in Columbus informs me that is indeed the case.

Ohio State aims to sign two offensive tackles this cycle. In-state standout Jackson Carman ― the nation’s No. 1 tackle prospect ― tops the target board, but Walker is right there in the mix below him.

Expect Penn State to lock in an official visit with Walker, who has traveled to State College twice since May. The Nittany Lions are in excellent shape here, but a resolution will need to wait.

Let’s shift focus from a premier offensive target to one of the final defensive priorities: former Penn State pledge Micah Parsons.

Thanks for the inquiry, Eric. This is a subject I’ve addressed with some peers in the college football recruiting industry, and it continued to catch my attention during a recent evaluation of Parsons’ junior-season film.

Though the 6-3, 235-pound Harrisburg (Pa.) product is considered a 5-star defensive end, I believe he has the ability to attack from linebacker on occasion.

For some context, here’s what I wrote about Parsons this week for Land of 10’s inaugural edition of 2018 Pennsylvania prospect rankings:

Defensive strategists can expand their imagination with a talent like Parsons, implementing him in a three-point stance or stand-up position in a slew of spots that keeps the opposition uncomfortable. I don’t see the average Power 5 offensive tackle handling his quickness, especially if his pre-snap positioning is unpredictable. His competitive drive is off the charts, and leads me to believe he can make an impact on any college football field next fall. As a freshman, Parsons could pressure the quarterback multiple times per game and rank among team leaders in tackles for loss. Beyond that, as he becomes increasingly indoctrinated with a program’s culture and schematics, Parsons projects as a double-digit sack threat moving toward an imminent NFL payday if he remains on track.

I observed Parsons play a variety of roles, ranging from linebacker and cornerback to receiver, June 17 throughout Penn State’s 7-on-7 tournament. He earned overall event MVP honors while leading Harrisburg to the championship.

Parsons and I discussed his collegiate potential beyond the trenches prior to The Opening’s New Jersey regional April 30, where he earned defensive line MVP honors. He told me several programs, including Georgia, Nebraska and USC, project him as a stand-up defender.

ohio state recruiting-buckeyes-football-micah parsons-2018
Micah Parsons, shown here during a July visit to Ohio State, helped lead Harrisburg High School to its first state championship game appearance in 2016. (Jeremy Birmingham/Land of 10)

I think he fits perfectly with the new mold of “edge rusher” that has emerged in a big way on the game’s biggest stage. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders) and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller (Denver Broncos) are prime examples of players capable of impacting every snap regardless of where they line up on the field.

Both elite players are still younger than 30, but early production points toward Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. Mack and Miller are each listed 6-3, 250 pounds. That’s probably right about where Parsons will be when his college career concludes.

Through three high school seasons, he’s recorded more than 60 tackles for loss and 40 sacks. Expect another monster campaign for him in 2017 before he heads to Happy Valley or a myriad of other college options that include Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State and USC.

I will attend his first game as a senior Saturday, watching Harrisburg host Imhotep Charter (Philadelphia) in a compelling opener. I’ll be sure to provide updates from the field and provide feedback early next week.

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.

The post Penn State Recruiting Mailbag: Plan for top OT target Rasheed Walker; can Micah Parsons play linebacker? appeared first on Land of 10.

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