ShareThis Page

Harlan on recruiting: Penn State recruiting class among nation's best

Chris Harlan
| Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, 5:18 p.m.
Penn State Head Coach James Franklin against Pitt in the second quarter on Saturday Sept. 09, 2017 at Beaver Stadium.
Christian Tyler Randolph | Tribune-Review
Penn State Head Coach James Franklin against Pitt in the second quarter on Saturday Sept. 09, 2017 at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State has climbed to fourth in both major polls, and the team ranks even higher when it comes to recruiting.

As one number rises, so does the other.

With the early signing period about three months away, coach James Franklin's staff is adding the final pieces to a 2018 recruiting class that already is ranked third-best by Rivals.

West Virginia is No. 33, and Pitt is 55.

Only Ohio State and Miami (Fla.) have better recruiting classes than Penn State's 23-commit class that now includes 17 four-star prospects. There are few scholarship spots still unfilled, but the Nittany Lions likely aren't finished, said Rivals' Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst.

“Ranked fourth in the country, top Heisman contender and a relatively promising future for the team,” Friedman said. “(That combination) is really doing a great job for the team on the recruiting trail.”

Franklin's top target is Harrisburg senior Micah Parsons (6-foot-3, 240 pounds), a defensive end whom Rivals ranks fifth overall among all recruits nationally. Penn State, Ohio State and Nebraska are considered his favorites. The five-star recruit first committed to Penn State in February 2016 but continued to visit the Nittany Lions after he reopened his recruiting process in April.

“The momentum seems to be shifting a little away from Ohio State for Parsons and back toward Penn State,” Friedman said. “We'll see if that momentum continues in Penn State's favor as the process moves forward. Parsons is a guy who says he wants to sign early and enroll early. He's working that out with his school right now.”

It's rare for a recruit to back out of his commitment and later enroll at that original school, as Parsons could.

“Penn State certainly worked themselves back into the picture there,” Friedman said. “It would be interesting to see the very rare re-commitment.”

Besides Parsons, Friedman noted two other four-star defensive ends who are considering Penn State: Jason Oweh (6-5, 240) of Blairstown, N.J., and Tyreke Smith (6-4, 252) of Cleveland. Rivals ranks Oweh at No. 179 nationally, and Smith is No. 53.

Four-star offensive tackle Rasheed Walker (6-6, 295) of Waldorf, Md., also could pick Penn State. Rivals ranks Walker at No. 49 overall.

They could further boost a class that Friedman already considers “phenomenal.”

Penn State's top commitments are wideout Justin Shorter (6-3, 220) of New Jersey and running back Ricky Slade (5-9, 190) of Virginia. The incoming class also has two very good tight ends, Friedman said, and important depth for the lines and at linebacker.

“They're doing a really, really good job of bringing in high-level playmakers,” Friedman said. “It's phenomenal.”

Keystone is key

Penn State found success this year with Pennsylvania recruits. The team has commitments from seven of the state's top 25 seniors, a Rivals list that includes tight end Zack Kuntz of Camp Hill, defensive back Isheem Young of Imhotep Charter, linebackers Nick Tarburton of Pennridge and Jesse Luketa of Mercyhurst Prep and offensive lineman Juice Scruggs of Cathedral Prep. All are four-star recruits.

Howard connection

Howard assistant coach Brennan Marion had a busy day in Western Pennsylvania. Shady Side Academy junior quarterback/defensive back Skyy Moore and two Aliquippa teammates, senior linebacker Tariq Jones and junior cornerback MJ Devonshire, announced scholarship offers Tuesday from Marion, a former Greensburg Salem star.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.