Penn State Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2015 Class

Troy Weller@@troywellerContributor IIIFebruary 10, 2014

Penn State Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2015 Class

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    Associated Press

    Penn State is just days removed from inking its 2014 recruiting class. In that case, it's time to look ahead to 2015.

    Next year's recruiting class will be the first full one at Penn State for head coach James Franklin and his staff. It's important that they make a statement by bringing in one of the school's better classes in recent memory. 

    Currently no players are committed to Penn State's 2015 class, but Franklin and his staff are already hard at work. While letters of intent were coming in from the Nittany Lions' 2014 signees, the coaches were already calling 2015 recruits, per USA Today.

    With a full season to assemble the class of his liking, Franklin could do some serious damage. Before he took the Nittany Lions' job, an unnamed ACC coach told Bruce Feldman of CBS that Franklin would "kill it in recruiting" at Penn State. It's time to see if those words ring true. 

    Here are a handful of the top targets—with mutual interest from both sides—for Penn State in 2015. 

    Note: Star rankings and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Richie Petitbon

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    Credit: 247Sports

    Offensive guard Richie Petitbon would help upgrade the interior offensive line, which was an area that Penn State couldn't augment in 2014.

    A 4-star recruit, Petitbon was offered by Penn State last June. He took part in a camp in State College that summer and has already made multiple unofficial visits. 

    Unlike some of the offensive linemen whom Penn State just signed, Petitbon is already physically ready for the next level—he's 6'4" and weighs more than 300 pounds. That kind of bulk is necessary for the Big Ten and already gives him an advantage over other linemen his age.

    He is a good blocker in both the running and passing games. He has good footwork and a strong punch off the ball. The Washington, D.C. native is ranked as the 10th-best offensive guard in the class of 2015.

    The Penn State staff has taken notice of Petitbon, as coaches visited his school last month, per Tom VanHaaren of ESPN. The recruit also told Justin Rowland of Rivals that he'd like to attend Penn State's upcoming junior day. 

John Reid

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    Credit: 247Sports

    A Pennsylvania prospect, John Reid is considered to be the top player in the state. 

    He was given a 4-star assessment and is considered to be the eighth-best cornerback in the country. His offer sheet includes schools like Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame.

    He may not be the biggest of corners, but he  is still very talented. He's quick to react in coverage and can change direction nicely. He plays with good instincts and is a solid tackler. 

    Penn State did add three cornerbacks in its 2014 class, but there is always room for more defensive backs. The jury may still be out on some of the newcomers, and Reid seems like a solid prospect at this stage of the game. 

    He took an unofficial visit to Happy Valley back in October and was visited by Franklin last month.  

    Per Ryan Snyder of Rivals, Reid likes Penn State aside from the football aspect as well. He'll need to build a relationship with the new staff, but that shouldn't be a problem. 

Ryan Bates and Jake Cooper

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    Credit: 247Sports

    If Franklin wants to "dominate the state" like he said at his introductory press conference via, he'll have both Ryan Bates and Jake Cooper high on his wish list. The two are high school teammates at Archbishop Wood in Warminster, Pa. 

    Bates lines up at offensive tackle, while Cooper plays linebacker. Both are nationally ranked in the top 25 at their respective positions.

    Although listed as a tackle, Bates was viewed by the O'Brien regime as an interior lineman, per Audrey Snyder of Regardless, he'd help bolster a unit in need of some young talent. The 4-star prospect only weighs 280 pounds right now but still has another year of high school to add more weight. 

    Cooper is a 3-star prospect and was offered by Penn State on February 5. He has good size (6'2", 230 lbs) and, judging by his Hudl highlight tape, is quick to make the open tackle and has the ability to shed blockers.

    It's unknown whether they are looking to play together in college. You'd have to think, though, that a commitment from one would give Penn State some help in landing the other.

    Per head coach Steven Devlin on Twitter, Franklin recently visited Bates and Cooper at Archbishop Wood. Bates told Rick O'Brien of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he "got a good vibe" from Penn State's new head coach. 

Kamonte Carter

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    Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

    Maryland's Kamonte Carter is the No. 51-ranked athlete in the class of 2015.

    A 3-star prospect, Carter can do it all—his Hudl highlight tape showcases him as a quarterback and linebacker. His profile also says he can play defensive end, but even that isn't written in stone.

    At 6'4 and 235 pounds, he's in a good place physically. He could play outside linebacker or switch to defensive end and add on just a few more pounds. With defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's scheme expected to use multiple looks, per The Daily Collegian, there are many options for where to play Carter. 

    He's a good athlete who can run well for a player his size. He's quick to get into the backfield and shows proficiency in running down the ball-carrier. Wherever Penn State feels it needs a playmaker is probably where Carter would fit best. 

    He indicated to Ryan Snyder of Rivals that his decision is down to Penn State and Maryland, and that he'll be deciding soon. This was before Franklin was hired but after O'Brien had left. Knowing this, it's hard to think that Carter has since dropped the Nittany Lions from his list. 

Steven Gonzalez

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    Ashlee Espinal/The Jersey Journal

    A 4-star offensive lineman, Steven Gonzalez is rated as the third-best offensive guard in the country. He's also the No. 59-ranked player overall. 

    Much like the aforementioned Petitbon, Gonzalez (6'5", 300 lbs) is already physically ready for the college game. He is a very good blocker in the run game, with a good first punch and solid strength. He'll need to improve his pass blocking.  

    Gonzalez can play both tackle and guard but would be better utilized as the latter. Penn State will lose Miles Dieffenbach to graduation at the end of 2014, and there's not much depth at guard to begin with. An opportunity could present for Gonzalez to compete for a spot right away.

    Penn State offered the New Jersey native back in January, and he tweeted that the Nittany Lions had moved up on his list of schools. 

    Prior to Penn State offering, Ohio State was considered to be the leader for his services. Gonzalez has said that location is a factor in his decision, so this could wind up helping Penn State.