Take Your Marks: '06 Class

Now that the dust has long since cleared from letter-of-intent day, Harrington and Brennan square off over the Nittany Lions' most recent recruiting effort. This story was originally slated to appear in the next issue of FOS The Magazine, but due to space limitations we decided to run it here.

Welcome to another edition of Take Your Marks, the occasional feature in which Fight On State publishers Mark Harrington and Mark Brennan debate the topics of the day. In this edition, which was meant for our recruiting yearbook but was pulled at the last minute due to space limitations, the Marks tackle Penn State's Class of 2006.

1). Which player from the Class of 2006 will have the most immediate impact?

HARRINGTON: With the departure of Tamba Hali and Matthew Rice, and no clear favorites having emerged heading into the spring, the defensive end spots look to be wide open. I expect All-American Maurice Evans to break into the depth chart immediately and possibly make an early impact.

BRENNAN: On the field, I'll go with Virginia wideout Chris Bell, who brings some much-needed size to the receiving corps. Overall, however, I believe the leadership displayed by Maryland defensive end Aaron Maybin has already set a very positive tone for this class, one that should last for years.

2). Which member of the incoming class has the most long-term potential?

HARRINGTON: Antonio Logan-El is a massive athlete who could be instrumental in building a young, effective offensive line, a trouble spot for Penn State in recent history. Also, Andrew Quarless is the type of prospect who could motivate the coaches to actually use the tight end consistently in the passing game during the next few seasons.

BRENNAN: Delaware defensive end Eric Latimore didn't exactly face the best competition in high school. But the kid has great size (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) and beyond-belief athletic ability. Larry Johnson knows exactly what to do when he gets his hands on this kind of raw material, so expect Latimore to emerge as a star at some point. Also look out for Maryland lineman Phil Taylor, a massive prospect who moves well enough to make an impact on either side of the line.

3). Which recruit is not getting the credit he deserves?

HARRINGTON: I think there are a few, but the guy who seems to fit the bill best is Evan Royster. Lost in the hype over LeSean McCoy and slowed by an injury that prevented him from building his rep in the off-season combines, Royster was not only the All-Met Offensive Player of the Year, but also Virginia's Gatorade Player of the Year. He has the size, technique and ability to be an impact running back in the Big Ten. I expect Royster to redshirt this year, but he could easily be in the thick of the running back battles headed into 2007.

BRENNAN: I'll go with the first player to announce for the Lions, New Jersey quarterback Brett Brackett. Brackett almost became a forgotten man when Pat Devlin jumped ship from Miami. But he combines great size (6-6, 235) with surprising agility. Devlin appears to be a more polished prospect at this point, but Brackett has some amazing tools. If he develops as expected, this could be an interesting competition for several years.

4). Penn State recruited very well on both lines this year. Is there an area in which the staff did not do so well?

HARRINGTON: I think overall the staff fulfilled its needs, but it missed out on the top safety prospects it was targeting - Myron Rolle and Elijah Fields. Penn State landed Cedric Jeffries and Travis McBride, but in terms of overall depth and qua¬¬lity of talent, this was probably the one area that was lacking relative to the rest of the class.

BRENNAN: I agree. If you want to nitpick, I was surprised the Lions only grabbed three defensive backs considering that they graduated their entire secondary. I'd look for this to be a primary area of emphasis for the Class of 2007.

5). Larry Johnson Sr. played a vital role in compiling this class, landing seven players from Maryland and Jared Odrick from Lebanon, Pa. But which PSU coach was the unsung hero?

HARRINGTON: This may surprise some folks, but I am going to say Dick Anderson. Anderson pulled in Lou Eliades, Cedric Jeffries, Doug Klopacz, Johnnie Troutman and Brett Brackett. Not a bad list for a coach no one seems to talk about.

BRENNAN: I think Joe Paterno's role in assembling this class has been lost in the shuffle. Despite being 79, he was obviously able to convey the message that he is not going anywhere soon. The old man remains one of the most effective closers in the game. Now that he has a recruiting coordinator who knows how to exploit those skills in Mike McQueary, the Lions are once again a force on the national scene. Also, props to McQueary. Amazing success in two years on the job, enough that you had better believe other schools will target him sooner rather than later.


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