Sizing Up the Class of 2011

FOS analyst Cory James takes a big-picture look at the group of prospects who signed with Penn State Wednesday.

Seeing Penn State's Class of 2011 come together has been interesting, to say the least.

Things kicked off early with 2010 cornerback signee Shyquawn Pullium, who went to prep school for a year and moved his enrollment to 2011. So a quick start right?

That was all until May.

Three long months for a Penn State recruiting analyst. Penn State was able to land one recruit in May and three more in July. OK, the Nittany Lions were moving along.

Then no verbals until November.

That's five guys in the class with three months to go.

So this class looked like it could be the worst in the history (or at least the modern history) of Penn State recruiting. Sure, the class was expected to only be 15-17 guys originally. But having only five prospects committed that late in the game was just not going to cut it.

Well, it turned out that Penn State would grab 11 more recruits in those three months and settle in on 16 total signees.

The problem was that from February through October, we had been saying this class could be the worst class ever. Now, as of this writing, Penn State sits 17th in average star ranking nationally. That's really a solid class. Not as good as last year, for sure, but certainly not the program-killer that had been suggested for eight months in 2010.

It is to the point that when I want to grade this class it is almost underrated. The 17th-best class in average star ranking should get you a B+ grade in most years for Penn State. Now my final grade on this class is a B-.

How did I get there for this class?

Well, the devil is in the details, and while the talent was solid for this class, it wasn't in all the right places.

Penn State desperately needed defensive backs -- probably three to four at a minimum. The Lions ended up with two.

Penn State wanted Savon Huggins, a five-star prospect, as its lone running back in this class. The Lions didn't get him and they didn't replace him.

Penn State wanted Ben Koyack, a five-star tight end to shore up that position. The Lions didn't get him and they replaced him with a couple three-star guys who are very talented, but admittedly not to the level of Koyack.

Finally, Penn State probably needed a defensive tackle in this class and it didn't get one.

That's four positions that were either not filled, or not filled to expectation.

So where did the talent come from?

Penn State landed another outstanding class of offensive linemen and a very deep class of talented defensive ends. Both needs, for certain, but the numbers taken to fill those needs may have taken away from other positions.

So at the end of the day, the talent is there, but maybe not in all the right places.

A B- is a solid grade for the 16 recruits comprising Penn State's Class of 2011.

But looking ahead to 2012, where at this moment it appears the Lions will have between 18 and 20 scholarships to give, there really is no excuse for PSU not to grade out as an A- at worst. The talent pool in the school's traditional recruiting areas is that deep.

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