Although Penn State Signing Day mainly occurred back in December, it is never a bad time for a refresher. James Franklin signed 27 members to the 2020 class back in December. A class filled with talent and potential, something highly important to continue building a program. So, let’s do a Penn State signing day recap.
Penn State Signing Day Recap: December
The Nittany Lions are currently third in the Big Ten for recruiting class behind both Ohio State and Michigan. Further, Penn State likely will not crack the top 10 for this class either. Although fans want to see their team with the best of the best every year, it is important to build depth and develop these players. We have seen time and time again five-star recruits not pan out. Then, three-and-four-stars do. It is all about how each individual player is developed. The Penn State coaches do well in that department. Another thing that will help in that development? Nearly half of the class enrolled midyear for the Spring semester.
Penn State signed five wide receivers to the 2020 class. KeAndre Lambert and Jaden Dottin both enrolled early for the Nittany Lions. With the departure of KJ Hamler to the NFL and wide receiver coach Gerad Parker to West Virginia, it is good that these two are on campus early. Dottin and Lambert will both get to work with new receiver coach Taylor Stubblefield for the entire Spring semester before summer workouts begin. Stubblefield comes from the Miami Hurricanes staff. He is in the same role that Parker held. Wide receiver has been a position that needs improvement for the Nittany Lions. The group as a whole has lacked consistency. Hopefully, Stubblefield and the additions of Parker Washington, Malick Meiga, and Norval Black will help the unit.
In addition to five receivers, Penn State also signed two tight ends to the 2020 class. Headlining the entire class is four-star tight end out of Canada, Theo Johnson. Johnson was named to the Sports Illustrated All-American team and enrolled early for the Spring. He had offers from Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, and Alabama but chose Penn State to call home. He will be joined by fellow tight end Tyler Warren. Both will have the benefit of learning from stand out tight end, Pat Freiermuth.
Further, two more running backs were added to a loaded Nittany Lion backfield. Caziah Holmes and Keyvone Lee will join a running back room filled with talent. Holmes is already on campus, potentially giving him an edge. Penn State also signed a quarterback in the 2020 class, Micah Bowens. Bowens hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a three-star pro-style quarterback. He will need to work on getting the ball out quicker, but has good scrambling ability. His build and elusiveness draw a likeness to former Penn State great Trace McSorley.
Finally, the arguably most important part of the offense, offensive line. The Nittany Lions signed five offensive linemen. This is truly a point of emphasis for Penn State with the talent that is in the running back room. Nick Dawkins enrolled early. Jimmy Christ, Olu Fahanu, Golden Israel-Achumba, and Ibrahim Traore will join him this summer. Overall, that is two guards and three tackles for new offensive line coach Phil Trautwein to develop.
It is a good thing Penn State finished signing the 2020 class in December because defensive line coach Sean Spencer announced he is leaving for the NFL. Spencer has been a huge recruiting and development coach for the Nittany Lions. With the search ongoing, it is good that the defense has been secured for 2020. Six defensive signees enrolled early for the Spring semester. This includes three defensive linemen, one linebacker, and two secondary players.
Defensive tackles, Cole Brevard and Fatroma Mulbah enrolled early, giving them extra workouts and the ability to adapt to college life. Further, defensive end Bryce Mostella enrolled early as well. Mostella enrolling early is crucial with the loss of Yetur Gross-Matos to the NFL. The Nittany Lions will be able to develop Mostella sooner and build depth at a position that has been strong for Penn State. In addition to the defensive line, inside linebacker Tyler Elsdon out of Ashland, PA enrolled early as well. Elsdon is a three-star inside linebacker with a lot of upside and room to grow. He had offers from both Army and Air Force.
Finally, cornerback Joseph Johnson and safety Enzo Jennings are at Penn State already. Penn State utilized many young players in the secondary a season ago, including State College product Keaton Ellis. The secondary for the Nittany Lions has been very young the last two seasons. Adding depth is something that this unit desperately needs, especially with the graduate transfer of cornerback DJ Brown. Look for all of these early enrollees in the Blue-White Game this April.
Three four-star defensive players will be enrolling for Penn State this summer. Outside linebacker, Curtis Jacobs, out of Maryland signed with the Nittany Lions in December. Jacobs also plays basketball and is an above-the-rim player. He is fast and can catch the ball out of the air He played receiver for his high school team as well as linebacker. Jacobs was also a punt returner. His elusiveness will play a big factor in his development at Linebacker U. In addition to Jacobs, other four-star defensive players are Coziah Izzard, also from Maryland, and defensive end Zuriah Fisher out of Aliquippa, PA. Izzard was also recruited by Alabama and has a thick frame. He is likely built to play inside with a strong lower body and long arms. The new defensive line coach will likely have to work to develop his handwork, but there is a big upside with Izzard.
Fisher is six-foot-three weighing 255 pounds. He is ranked fourth in PA by 247Sports. He is the first signee from Aliquippa in many years for the Nittany Lions. Historically, Aliquippa is known for hard work and hard-hitting football players. Fisher is a good addition to Penn State. To finish out the defense for the 2020 class, Penn State landed safety Ji’Ayir Brown out of Lackawanna CC and defensive ends Amin Vanover from New Jersey and Brandon Taylor out of Ohio. Brown put up good numbers while at Lackawanna and will look to contribute right away. Vanover has speed and is quick to the ball. He will need to develop his pass-rush technique though.
Building depth and developing players are always at the forefront for the Nittany Lion coaching staff. That is exactly what Franklin has done with the recruiting class. A little bit of every position is represented and the heavy need areas, wide receiver and offensive line were addressed immediately with players enrolling early. It will be fun to watch these new guys at the Blue-White Game in April.