The second signing day for the incoming 2019 class has come and gone. For Penn State football, it can be seen as another successful window. Many from outside the program have grown concerned with the number of players entering the transfer portal, and what that means for the depth of coach James Franklin’s squad moving forward. However, there is no need to fear, as Franklin continues to bring in talent better than almost anyone in the Big Ten conference.
The primary concern Penn State addressed appeared to be the defense. Particularly, Franklin focused his efforts on the secondary. The past few seasons, the Nittany Lion secondary appeared to be vulnerable late on in games, especially in the fourth quarter against the deep receiving core of Ohio State. With the graduation of Amani Oruwariye, the depth and leadership at this position will take an even greater blow.
Franklin has set to address these struggles by acquiring the signature of four corners for the incoming class. This includes a pair of four stars, Joey Porter Jr. and State College native Keaton Ellis. Three stars Marquis Wilson and Daequan Hardy will join them as well.
The lone five-star recruit in this class for the Nittany Lions also plays the defensive side of the ball. Inside linebacker Brandon Smith is coming off Gatorade Player of the Year honors whilst posting 135 tackles and nine forced fumbles. His play will compliment Micah Parsons nicely next season in Happy Valley.
Parsons led the Nittany Lions in tackles throughout his freshman campaign. He opened many eyes to what he could potentially become, and alongside Smith, both could combine to form the scariest duo in the Big Ten.
On the offensive side of the ball, Franklin loaded up with skill position players. Despite the offensive line taking a hit with Connor McGovern declaring for the NFL draft, this is still a smart strategy. It will take a lot of work to replace the historically successful play makers from the past few seasons, and this year’s class was a good step in the right direction.
Despite the loss of Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders in back-to-back season, running back continues to be a huge strength for Penn State, especially from a depth perspective. Upperclassmen Ricky Slade and Journey Brown continue to show promise. Joining them in 2019 will be Devyn Ford and Noah Cain, the fifth and sixth ranked running backs nationally for the incoming class, according to 247Sports.
Filling the shoes of record-setting quarterback Trace McSorley will not be easy either. However, a pair of four-star dual-threat acquisitions will ensure intense competition to solidify a solid starter going into the 2019 season. Taquon Roberson and Michael Johnson Jr. rank as the eighth and fifteenth best incoming quarterbacks respectively on 247Sport’s list and look to use their skill set to head the Nittany Lions offense down the road.
Penn State has chalked up the thirteenth best class in the country. It ranks second in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan. Franklin continues his recruiting success across the map in order to ensure the Nittany Lions go nowhere but up when competing for another Big Ten championship, and the elusive college football playoff berth.
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