With only a handful of targets still on the table in 2018, we’re already turning our attention to the 2019 class. Before we get into actual players, let’s just point out three “Big Ideas” heading into 2019.
1. Size of the class?
Although Penn State will have another small senior class, it will have a pretty large junior class, meaning natural roster attrition should make room for another decent sized class in 2019. Maybe not the full 25, but I would guesstimate the Nittany Lions taking a low-20s member class next year.
2. Down year in Pennsylvania
After a strong 2018 crop, the 2019 PA class isn’t looking too good. Only one PA prospect — cornerback Keaton Ellis — has picked up a Penn State offer. While it’s still early, I wouldn’t expect that number to go all that much higher. Would expect the Nittany Lions to offer, at max, five Pennsylvania prospects next year.
3. Strong year in New Jersey
Six New Jersey products already have Penn State offers in hand, and a number of them have the Nittany Lions as one of their leaders. With Pennsylvania being down, it shouldn’t be a surprise that James Franklin & Co. will hit New Jersey hard in 2019.
Penn State will again be in the hunt for another quarterback in 2019, and it appears that the top target will be Garrett Shrader. You don’t build them much better than the North Carolina QB, who stands 6-foot-4.5, weighs 200 pounds, and runs a 4.65. His film matches his measurables, and his offer list is already a good one: Alabama, Louisville, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
While Shrader’s offer list will continue to grow after his junior season, expect Penn State to be a major player here. He visited Happy Valley twice this summer, once for a camp, and the other time for the Lasch Bash. For a North Carolina kid to make two visits in a six week span, that should show his interest in the Nittany Lions.
Beyond Shrader, Penn State also offered New Jerse signal caller Taquan Roberson. Although Roberson lacks the measurables of a prototypical quarterback — he’s only 6-foot, 185 pounds — he’s a superb athlete that looks super comfortable running an offense. The New Jersey product also holds offers from North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, and Virginia Tech.
Saquon Barkley, Andre Robinson, Miles Sanders, Journey Brown, and Ricky Slade — okay, Charles Huff has done a decent recruiting job. He’ll look to continue his hot streak of bringing in highly-touted running backs.
At the top of list is Devyn Ford, a teammate of current Penn State commit Nana Asiedu. Ford has been to State College a couple times, and while the Nittany Lions should be a contender for him, Clemson might be tough to beat here. Granted, that’s what recruitniks were saying last year about Asiedu, so let’s see where the chips fall once Ford really gets into his recruitment.
Even if Penn State were to land Ford, there’s a good chance that the Nittany Lions will be taking two running backs in 2019. Another name to keep tabs on is fellow Virginia product Jordan Houston. Houston landed his Penn State back in July of 2016, but after a knee injury costed him his sophomore season, his recruitment slowed down. Fortunately for Houston, he’s back to being healthy, landing offers from pretty much everywhere he camped this summer — Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Tennessee.
As far as early commits go, Houston could be a prime candidate. He called Penn State a dream school, and told the Washington Post he cried when he earned his offer from the Nittany Lions. He’ll be on commit watch the next time he’s on campus.
Penn State should also be in the thick of things for Washington DC’s Keilan Robinson, who landed an offer from the Nittany Lions after a camp performance earlier this summer. Like Houston, he’s on the smaller side — only 5-foot-9, 175 pounds — but the kid is electric with the ball.
With Shaquon Anderson-Butts potentially needing a prep year, Penn State’s wide receiver number could already be at one for the 2019 class. The Nittany Lions will certainly look to add a couple others to the mix, but at this point, the crop looks a little light.
The most notable name is Dean Engram — yes, the son of Penn State great Bobby Engram. The youngest Engram landed an offer from the Nittany Lions in May, and not surprisingly, Penn State will be tough to beat here. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound wideout also boasts offers from NC State, Pitt, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.
One other name to keep an eye on is Maryland’s (by way of Canada) John Metchie. The Canadian wide receiver landed an offer from Penn State in July after a strong camp performance, and if his 247 Crystal Ball predictions are telling, he could be an early commit candidate. Sean Fitz said on a recent edition of the Lions247 Podcast that Metchie was close with 2018 commit Jessue Luketa, as well.
After taking two tight ends in 2018, the need for a tight end might not be all that high in 2019. But if the Nittany Lions do take a tight end, Pennsylvania’s Hayden Rucci could be a prime candidate. He hasn’t been offered by Penn State yet, but displays an impressive offer list otherwise — Boston College, Duke, Michigan State, Northwestern, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, to name a handful.
As will always be the case, Penn State will take at least three offensive linemen in every recruiting class, and 2019 will be no different. Leading the way for next year is New Jersey’s Caedan Wallace, who has offers from Maryland, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech. But with four Crystal Ball predictions already in Penn State’s favor, the Nittany Lions are sitting in a good spot for the 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman.
Three other names high on the offensive line board: Michigan’s Devontae Dobbs, Maryland’s Darrian Dalcourt, and New Jersey’s John Olmstead. Dobbs and Dalcourt both visited Happy Valley this summer, while Olmstead has yet to make his way to campus.