Coach: Bill O'Brien
Players Signed: 17
Class Rank: 44th Overall, 7th Big Ten
What Was Accomplished: The Nittany Lions needed to add quarterbacks and defensive backs, and they did it. In bringing in JUCO quarterback Tyler Ferguson, Penn State should have someone who can compete immediately to be on the two-deep. In getting five-star Christian Hackenberg, Penn State has its future quarterback and the ability to bring him along at a comfortable pace and not rush him into playing before he is ready.
Penn State also needed defensive backs, and two (Anthony Smith and Jordan Smith) are already enrolled and will participate in spring practice. Playing freshmen in the secondary is always a scary proposition, but at least they will have chance to learn aplenty in spring practice and be ready to compete in training camp for playing time.
Needs Not Met: Curtis Cothran could grow into a defensive tackle, but he will enter as a defensive end. It means the Nittany Lions didn't get any interior defensive lineman, and that means it is crucial to land a few in the 2014 class. Greg Webb looked to be the guy for a while, but once he flipped to North Carolina and then the NCAA sanctions hit, there were not any defensive tackles Penn State deemed good enough or "getable" in the class.
Top Prospect: Hackenberg gets the distinction because he is a program-stabilizing type of talent, and he plays the most important position on the field. He has a big arm, he feels pressure well and moves in the pocket, he can pick up yards with his feet, he has a big frame and he is a smart kid.
Sleeper: Richy Anderson, a running back who can also play receiver, has the potential to be a very good player and impact the game in many areas. Anderson can also has an impact on special teams, and will allow O'Brien to use him in a variety of ways and create mismatches.
Overview: Given what Penn State was up against because of the NCAA sanctions, including scholarship reductions, there may not have been a better recruiting job in the nation than what O'Brien and his staff did.
Hackenberg, five-star tight end Adam Brenaman, four-star defensive end Garrett Sickels and offensive guard Brendan Mahon were all vocal and active in saying they were remaining committed to Penn State as long as O'Brien was in charge.
The lone offensive tackle brought in was Andrew Nelson, and while bringing in another was preferred, it was not prudent given the options and the scholarship limits. The same type of restraint was shown after Jonathan Walton decommitted. Penn State could have pushed for another linebacker, but couldn't find one it deemed worthy.
Once the sanctions hit, O'Brien and his staff did an excellent job remaining patient and also taking calculated chances on players not highly rated. Players like safety Kasey Gaines and Anthony Smith need to develop physically, but they run well and could become solid players.
In totality, Penn State might have done the best recruiting job of any staff in the nation.