Penn State Early Enrollee Analysis

Meet the seven new Nittany Lions who began taking classes at the university last week. They include three athletes who graduated early from high school, three prep school products and one junior college standout.

Penn State's early enrollees for its Class of 2013 began taking classes on campus about a week ago.

The list of seven athletes includes three who graduated from high school a semester early, three who arrived at PSU after spending time at prep schools (including two run-ons) and one junior college transfer.

So you can get to know the newest Nittany Lions a little better, we compiled scouting reports on each. They feature analysis from FOS recruiting reporter Greg Pickel, FOX Sports NEXT Northeast expert Brian Dohn and FSN West Coast expert Brandon Huffman.

Player names are followed by their school -- hometown -- height/weight.


RB Richy Anderson
Thomas Johnson -- Frederick, Md. -- 5-11/180

PICKEL: Anderson offers a blend of defender-burning speed out of the backfield as well as a pair of dependable hands and quick feet that allow him to line up in the slot. He is important to this class because of his versatility. While he is on the record as saying he doesn't care whether he's lined up out wide or behind the quarterback, Penn State fans can rest assured knowing he comes on board with a good foundation to play either spot. He's from a PSU football family, too, as his father, Richie, was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Lions before enjoying a long NFL career.

DOHN: Anderson is unique in that he can play multiple positions and do it well. It allows an offense to exploit the defense's personnel. He is best at running back, where he is shifty and also has good acceleration. But he can play in the slot and be effective in the passing game, too, which could benefit the Nittany Lions when he is matched up on a linebacker.


TE Adam Breneman
Cedar Cliff -- Mechanicsburg, Pa. -- 6-5/230

PICKEL: Among the nation's best tight ends, Breneman held the No. 1 ranking until suffering a torn right ACL that wiped out his senior season. He has many of the tools needed to excel in Bill O'Brien's tight end-friendly offense -- good hands, solid route-running skills and a frame that can handle more weight. It is not clear when he'll be fully healed from the ACL injury. But as deep as Penn State is at tight end right now, giving Breneman a season to redshirt would not be an issue.

DOHN: Once Breneman is healthy and ready to go, he should be able to contribute quickly. He needs to work on his blocking, but his speed and pass-catching skills make him an immediate threat. He has the speed to get down the field, and the feet to get in and out of breaks much quicker than a tight end should be able to.


QB D.J. Crook*
Worchester (Mass.) Academy -- Hyaniss, Mass. -- 6-1/205

PICKEL: Crook developed his running skills while prepping at Worchester (Mass.) Academy, so he figures to immediately be an important part of Penn State's foreign team, or “Dirty Show.” Last season, PSU had to rely on other position players to handle the QB spot on the scout team when preparing for mobile passers. Landing walk-on quarterbacks to man the Dirty Show and perhaps develop even further is important given PSU's scholarship limits.

DOHN: He's a walk-on quarterback, which doesn't sound too exciting. But he is a good athlete who can play a different position if quarterback doesn't work out. If he remains at quarterback, he needs to alter his mechanics. He drops his arm too low and it hurts his accuracy and his velocity. He is able to make plays with his feet when protection breaks down, although he is not a classic dual-threat quarterback.


QB Tyler Ferguson
College of the Sequoias -- Bakersfield, Cailf. -- 6-4/210

PICKEL: With only one scholarship quarterback on the roster heading into the spring semester, Penn State was in dire need of help at the position. Enter Ferguson, who starred in the juco ranks last season. He is accurate, mobile and appears to have a strong football IQ. It will be interesting to see if O'Brien and PSU's coach Charlie Fisher attempt to tweak his release. Otherwise, Ferguson has solid mechanics.

HUFFMAN: The first thing you notice with Ferguson is the way the ball pops out of his hand. He's got a really strong arm and can make all the throws. His biggest strength is in the short and intermediate routes. He's also a pretty mobile quarterback and can keep plays alive with his athleticism. He's got a little bit of a quirky release, but gets the job done. He also needs to continue to add weight, as he's on the slight side still. He can show some improvement on real deep throws, too, as some have a tendency to flutter the farther downfield he goes. But many of those are on throws where he's not getting set and rushing his passes.


DB Anthony Smith
Valley Forge (Pa.) Military -- Dover, N.J. -- 6-1/186

PICKEL: Smith prepped one season at Valley Forge (Pa.) Military Academy. That, along with the fact that he is enrolling early, should put him in position to make an impact at least on special teams next fall. He has good size, agility and aggression. With a great frame (6-1, 185), it will be interesting to see how Smith reacts to Craig Fitzgerald's strength and conditioning program.

DOHN: After spending a season at Valley Forge Military Academy, Smith earned the offer because he showed good body control and, at 6-1,185, has good size. He needs to work on making quicker reads of the quarterback and breaking on the ball. He tackles well, and in the end he could turn into a safety because his play is much better and faster when he is able to run downhill.


DB Jordan Smith
Woodson -- Washington, D.C. -- 5-10/185

PICKEL: Smith's speed and hitting ability make him a candidate to line up at either cornerback spot (field or boundary) for the Lions. He also has the look of a special teams' cover man. He missed his senior season due to high school transfer rules, so his film is limited. But from what we saw during his performance at Penn State's Advances Skills Camp last year, Smith is a physical, fundamentally sound DB who enjoys press coverage.

DOHN: Smith didn't play as a senior after transferring schools, so he lost a year of experience. Entering his senior season, though, he needed to increase his top-end speed and burst, both of which can happen now that he is in a big-time strength and conditioning program. He reads plays well and is physical at the line of scrimmage. He is also comfortable covering in the slot and on the perimeter.


QB Austin Whipple*
Salisbury (Conn.) School -- Gibsonia, Pa. -- 6-2/200

PICKEL: The son of longtime college and NFL quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, Austin Whipple is more of a traditional drop-back QB than D.J. Crook. Like Crook, he is likely to spend the early part of his career as a key figure on the Dirty Show. The duo appear to complement one another nicely.

DOHN: Whipple will bring a strong work ethic and knowledge of the position since he is the son of a coach. That should help in the development with others. He needs to improve his arm strength dramatically, but he throws accurate balls and understands defensive concepts and schemes.


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