We kick things off by having three different people offer their opinions on the Nittany Lions' 2011 recruiting class. First up is sportsguypsu, who has a reputation for not being too critical or too positive. Stay tuned for reports from the more skeptical and optimistic sides of the Nittany Nation.
What started out as a class expected to be in the 14-15 scholarship range has grown where Penn State could get up to 16-17. Unlike past years, it appears that PSU is not reaching just for the sake of filling the spots as the only remaining target as of this writing was Adrian Amos, who was anything but a reach.
PSU landed a very good offensive line class with Donovan Smith, Ryan Nowicki, Anthony Alosi, Anthony Zettel and Angelo Mangiro. Nowicki's offer sheet is not that of a three-star kid and Alosi is starting to have the look/feel of a kid who was undervalued. Zettel could move over to the DL, Mangiro is a beast and Smith is a stud. Couple this year's haul with last year's OL group, and PSU should be able to find a very good offensive line here in the very near future.
I like the receivers PSU brought in. Bill Belton is an electric offenive player, and like Zettel, could be moved to defense. However, if I was on the PSU staff, I'd leave him right at WR. Belton has good speed -- not a burner, but his game is more quickness than overall speed.
Matt Zannatello is a stud. His offer sheet doesn't say it, and I'm not sure why he was so lightly recruited, but anyone who watches film sees a five-play guy -- the kind of guy who five plays in, you know is getting an offer. He's big, and had deceptive speed and tremendous hands. He high points the ball and uses his body much like a forward in basketball. It's his ball, and more often than not, he gets his ball.
Adrian Robinson looks like he could be a reach, but the thing to remember is he is 16 years old. Lots of time for him to develop. I think a gray-shirt would help here.
On paper, defensive end looks like it could be a big strength. Shawn Oakman has intriguing size/ability. Deion Barnes is extremely raw and young and should develop into that edge rusher PSU needs. Jordan Kerner likely gets moved to tight end.
PSU will sign a pretty good class all things considered. I don't think there was any need to offer a kicker in such a small class -- and after just signing Anthony Fera in 2009 -- unless they don't feel he can kick field goals. But PSU spent a scholarship on Indiana kicker Sam Ficken.
Penn State, for the second time in three years, is lacking serious playmakers on offense. Outside of 2010 signee Silas Redd, there have been no real home-run threats signed recently. If you look at the top programs in the country, there are usually multiple threats like that on the field at the same time.
PSU needed help on the defensive line and not landing a D-tackle is a huge gap that was not filled. If Amos does not sign with PSU, there's a massive hole in the defensive backfield. (Editors note: Amos did sign with Penn State after this piece was written.)
I personally would bring in a running back and quarterback with every class, and with Redd looking like he could be a three-and-out candidate, the Lions will need to bring in one or probably two running backs next year. The good news is there appears to be a deep and talented pool of backs available for the Class of 2012.
All in all, this is a solid class for Penn State. It's not elite, but the haul on the OL is something that should be paid attention to. There's a lot of talent in this crop, just like last year.