The coaching staff will attempt to compliment last year's talented group of offensive linemen with a few more players who could make an early impact. Offensive linemen are the most difficult to evaluate at the high school level, and only players seen as can't-miss have been offered by Penn State to this point. Expect more offers to be sent out after the first few weeks of the high school football season have been played, giving the coaches an opportunity to see game film of prospects that are currently on the borderline.
J.B. Walton (6-3, 270, 5.1, Lackey HS, Indian Head, MD)
J.B. Walton is one of the country's best offensive guard prospects due in large part to his uncommon mobility and agility. Walton will be a four-year starter for Lackey this fall, with three of those seasons spent as a starting offensive tackle. As a junior, Walton earned all-conference and all-state honors, and he is now being recruited by schools from coast-to-coast.
Walton claims 35 scholarship offers and lists Penn State, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Tennessee among his current favorites. He has attended the last two Penn State Football Camps and plans to attend once again this summer. In addition, Walton made an unofficial visit to University Park this spring for a Junior Day.
That visit included an experience Walton won't soon forget. "I got to talk to Coach Joe Paterno," Walton told Scout's Allen Wallace, "He's great and I love his hype and how into it he is. He was down on the field the whole time with the guys."
Walton recently said that Penn State is recruiting him harder than any other school. Larry Johnson is recruiting Walton and sends him email and handwritten letters on a daily basis. Walton is in no rush to make a final decision and will likely take official visits this winter before announcing his college choice.
Sam Young (6-7, 280, 4.9, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Sam Young is widely considered the best offensive tackle prospect in the country this year. His size, footwork, and strength make him almost unbeatable for St. Thomas Aquinas and have college coaches salivating at the thought of Young lining up for their school next fall.
Young recorded over 80 pancake blocks as a junior and received 30 scholarship offers before the Spring Evaluation Period had even begun, including the Big Three Florida schools. At first glance, Penn State would appear to have little chance of convincing Young to spurn the home state schools and come north to play college football.
Young has lived in south Florida his whole life, but his family is from the Pittsburgh area, and he rooted for Penn State growing up along with Miami and Michigan. Joe Paterno wisely put Tom Bradley in charge of recruiting Young, and not surprisingly, the Nittany Lions are recruiting him as hard as anyone.
"Right now Penn State and Florida are recruiting me the hardest," Young informed BigRedReport.com's Brandon Cavanaugh during an early May interview, "They send me the most mail and handwritten letters. They've come on me the hardest from a recruiting aspect, and they told me they would. They've both been great on following up on their word."
It's a safe bet that Penn State will be one of Young's finalists, and with Tom Bradley on the case and an opportunity for early playing time at offensive tackle, you have to like the Nittany Lions' chances.
Antonio Logan-El (6-6, 320, 5.2, Forestville HS, Forestville, MD)
Each year, we're reminded of the fact that a verbal commitment is not binding as numerous players verbally commit to one school only to sign with another in February. It's possible that Penn State's Class of 2006 will benefit from such a situation.
Antonio Logan-El verbally committed to Maryland during his junior year, but has reopened his recruitment after becoming one of the nation's hottest offensive line prospects. There's much more to the mammoth Logan-El's success on the field than just size. He is quick enough to play both guard and tackle for Forestville and actually prefers to line up at guard because he enjoys pulling on run plays.
Logan-El has been offered a scholarship by 22 schools at last count and lists Penn State and Maryland as his top two schools with Florida, Oklahoma, and Tennessee rounding out his top five. He plans to take one of his official visits to Penn State this fall with a goal of making a final decision by November.