Thursday, December 1 2022


Penn State football is expected to add 25 players to its 2022 squad when the early signing period begins on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions have 23 high school players and two junior college players engaged in the program and currently own the No.7 class in the country, according to the consensus ranking of the On3 team.

The squad is led by two players who are ranked as five-star rookies in the On3 consensus player rankings in quarterback Drew Allar and RB Nicholas Singleton.

We spoke to recruiting analyst Ryan Snyder, who covers Penn State for On3, to break down the class, including what it means for the program, where its strengths lie and more.

Daily Times Center: What are the strengths of the class?

Snyder: I would say the top of the class, it’s something we haven’t always seen. On3 has two five-star players going to Penn State, it’s not something we’ve seen in the years. They got five stars, but it was hit or miss at times. When you look at the depth of the class, it’s pretty similar to what we’ve seen over the years, a good chunk of solid four-star players, a lot of whom can contribute and some who probably won’t perform well. But when you have these guys at the top, the Drew Allars, the Nick Singletons, the Dani Dennis-Suttons, I’ll include Kaden Saunders in there, these are the guys Penn State hasn’t always hit on. Making sure these guys reach their potential is sometimes the difference between what we’ve seen this year at 7-5 and 10+ winning seasons and New Years balls.

I would add that they have two very good quarterbacks. Allar has all the accolades and then someone like Beau Pribula is still a bit sleepy but he’s such a winner, such a smart player. So when you have two really good quarterback prospects, who bring a little something different between the two, you’re going to have quality competition moving forward and that’s important.

CDT: What are the weaknesses of the class?

Snyder: They were certainly hoping for a little more quality offensive lineman. Drew Shelton is obviously a great player. JB Nelson is someone who can really make a difference right away. Maybe not right away, but he’s someone who has experience and who has constantly improved throughout this season, so I know Penn State is really excited about him. I think Maleek McNeil and Andre Roye both have a ton of potential, but they just need a bit of coaching when it comes to technique and things like that.

The mere fact that they were continually chasing offensive linemen throughout the period when the class was pretty much full tells me that (offensive line coach) Phil Trautwein and (head coach) James Franklin see a need there, especially at the level of the attacking tackle. That’s why they were chasing guys like Aamil Wagner really hard down the home stretch, so I’m leaning towards the offensive line.

CDT: Where do you think the class will end up in the team classification?

Snyder: They’re pretty much where I’m projecting them (sixth from 4pm Monday). When I look at the rankings from On3, a school like Oklahoma was ahead of them for quite a while and then they fell after losing a lot of commitments with the change of coaches. So I can see Oklahoma getting a few more quality players. And that could potentially bring Penn State down a bit. North Carolina has only 16 entries, Clemson has only 12 and those are the schools just behind Penn State. Depending on how they end up, I can see them skipping Penn State, but this should absolutely be a top 10 class.

Now, I’ve always projected somewhere between six and eight. Could they maybe drop to eight? I can see this. I think it is possible, especially when you add the January period. Oklahoma, and some of those schools, are really going to go out of their way to fill their class, but it absolutely should be a top 10 class and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was seven, maybe drop to eight. in the On3 classification.

Penn State football coach James Franklin poses with rookies including Drew Shelton for a photo before the game against Illinois on Saturday, October 23, 2021. Abby Drey [email protected]

CDT: What does a class like this do for the trajectory of the program?

Snyder: I think the quarterback aspect is incredibly important just because it’s a position the fans have circled for so long. You can’t go as far as your quarterback sometimes takes you. Having these two quality guys, knowing that they will be here early and knowing that they will be competing for the foreseeable future, I think that’s a major boost for a team that already has quality players. Is Penn State as good as it was in the Big Ten Championship years? Maybe not that deep, but there is a lot of talent there. If a game is different against Illinois, a few games are different in Michigan, so we’re looking at this season to be very different from the fans.

I see a class similar to previous years with this quality of depth. They have 16 out of 25 four-star players. That’s really good. They’ve had a lot of those of these guys in that top 300 or so, but when you add these guys at the top, who are really meant to make a difference, that’s where things change. He’s the kind of guy that Ohio State has landed for a long time and who looks back at some of their star players, it really was the big boost for them. The guys have to fend for themselves and we’ll see how they grow and develop, but it’s definitely a major influx of talent that Penn State needed this year. And then also, just with the momentum that this class brings, and the publicity it brings, that should only help in 2023 as well.

CDT: Who can make an early impact for Penn State in this class?

Snyder: It is always difficult. I always lean towards the first registrants because they have this additional practice. Nick Singleton is absolutely physically ready to contribute and I have no doubts in my mind that he will do whatever work is needed in the other ways, just when it comes to the playbook and keeping everything academically good, he is. brilliant. I see no reason why Nick Singleton wouldn’t come here and really hit the ground running this spring and prove to everyone that he should have a little bit of the ball next year.

I’ll add Kaden Saunders to it. Over the years, we’ve seen multiple receivers come in, step up, and play immediately. We’ve seen Parker Washington do it for the past couple of years and Kaden, just like Singleton, he’ll do whatever is off the pitch. It also brings a level of explosion which can really help play right away. I really like these two.

JB Nelson, we didn’t watch him much in first year with the JUCO season reduced. It was really the first season where we really watched him closely. He just showed constant improvement throughout the year. I just know he’s someone Penn State is incredibly excited for. So I would go for these three.

I don’t know if Abdul Carter would start early or contribute early but they need the linebacker help, that’s clear. They’re chasing linebackers through the transfer gate. We know Abdul Carter is an incredibly special player physically. He still has to grow a lot technically and, as far as the mental side of the game goes. But physically, he’s someone who could definitely contribute and in a position where they don’t have a ton of depth.

CDT: What kind of impact can Allar really have?

Snyder: He’s a special prospect for the reason. His arm is on a different level than a lot of the guys we’ve seen. He’s an incredibly smart player who does the little things right. He has shown constant improvement in all of these little technical things over the years. He really improved from second to junior year and then even improved a lot more as a senior. He really does all the tricky throws you’re looking for and his offense challenges him. They throw the ball 40, sometimes 50, times per game. We really have a deep film reel of all the types of throws he can do and his decision making. I think it’s incredibly important.

He’s a very composed, balanced and intelligent guy. Someone who knows there is so much more they can learn and improve. I think when you have a quarterback who understands right away and wants to learn and wants to be coached and wants to improve, it’s really just a coach’s dream in a lot of ways.

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Jon Sauber received his bachelor’s degree in digital and print journalism from Penn State and his master’s degree in sports journalism from IUPUI. His previous stops include jobs at the Indianapolis Star, NCAA, and Rivals.



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