Penn State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor IMay 21, 2014

Penn State Football: Summer Grades for 2015 Recruiting Class

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    Penn State's 2015 recruiting efforts are off to a terrific start and have the Nittany Lions sitting pretty with the second-ranked recruiting class, behind only Alabama.

    Eleven of Penn State's 16 committed recruits are currently 4-star prospects, and a couple of them who aren't look poised for bumps in the ratings this summer.

    It seems like James Franklin is landing every blue-chip prospect he targets, and that success is providing even more ammo when it comes to the head coach's recruiting pitch.

    Recruits can't help but notice what's going on at Penn State, and several have admitted that it is something they want to be a part of.

    Signing day is a long way off, but as we enter the summer, Franklin and his staff seem to be on their way to signing a top-notch class in 2015.

    Here's how the current class grades out with the summer-camp season set to begin in a few weeks!

Quarterback: A

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    Brandon Wimbush

    • 6'2", 205 pounds
    • 4-star dual threat quarterback; sixth-ranked dual-threat QB in the country


    In the Mix: None

    James Franklin and his staff went hard after just one quarterback prospect and got their guy in Wimbush when he committed in early May.

    The third-ranked prospect from the state of New Jersey, Wimbush considers himself a passer who can run rather than an athlete who is playing quarterback. 

    His final two schools were Penn State and Ohio State, but the future Nittany Lion signal-caller held offers from Alabama, LSU, Miami and South Carolina.

    Congratulations to St. Peter's Prep & #Elite11 QB Brandon Wimbush on his commitment to #PennState #WeAre.

    — Elite11 (@Elite11) May 7, 2014 

Running Back: A+

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    Andre Robinson

    • 5'9", 205 pounds
    • 4-star running back; fourth-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania

    Saquon Barkley

    • 5'11", 190 pounds
    • 4-star running back; sixth-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania


    In the Mix

    1. Josh Adams

    Penn State wanted two running backs in this class and landed arguably the top two in the state. Both are 4-star players who are considered top-25 backs nationally.

    Adams is another in-state 4-star running back who would probably be committed to the Nittany Lions already if they had room at RB. They're still recruiting him as an athlete, but he wants a crack at running back before he voluntarily changes positions.

    It's quite possible that Franklin will eventually land the top three running back prospects from the Keystone State.

    Robinson's lower body is built for the next level, and Barkley was recently invited to The Opening after earning MVP honors at the New Jersey Nike Football Training Camp. 

    Between them, they hold offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Rutgers and Pitt, among others.

    Congrats to the 105th official @TheOpening2014 invitee, White Hall (PA) RB Saquon Barkley (@saquonb21 ) #Weare

    — The Opening (@TheOpening2014) May 6, 2014

Wide Receiver: A

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    Juwan Johnson

    • 6'4", 200 pounds
    • 4-star wide receiver; 12th-ranked wide receiver in the country

    Brandon Polk

    • 5'9", 152 pounds
    • 4-star wide receiver; 11th-ranked prospect in Virginia 


    In the Mix

    1. Van Jefferson
    2. Irvin Charles

    After taking four receivers in last year's recruiting cycle, there wasn't a big demand for the position in the 2015 class. James Franklin made sure to make the most of his limited space, landing Polk and Johnson early in the process.

    Johnson, the second-rated player in New Jersey, is a big-bodied wideout with elite speed. He already embodies what NFL teams look for in a receiver, which explains why he holds offers from Alabama, Ohio State, South Carolina and others.

    He was recently invited to The Opening after his performance at the New Jersey Nike Football Training Camp.

    Polk is more of a slot receiver in the mold of Ohio State's Dontre Wilson.

    According to The Washington Post, Polk clocked a 4.36 second 40-yard dash last winter. He was also the Virginia Group AA champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes last spring as a sophomore.

    Depending on how the rest of the cycle shakes out, Penn State could open the door for a third receiver in this class. Either way, the position looks to be in good shape.

Tight End: Incomplete

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    Committed: None


    In the Mix

    1. Chris Clark
    2. Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

    The top five tight ends on Penn State's roster have eligibility left after 2014, and the Nittany Lions have signed Mike Gesicki, Adam Breneman and Brent Wilkerson in the last two classes at the position.

    With the scholarship limits still impacting recruiting, nobody would be surprised if the coaching staff skipped the position entirely this cycle. 

    Still, Franklin and company have offered a few players at the position and could eventually land one if things work out.

    Clark has been hard to gauge, nearly committing to a few schools before verbally committing to North Carolina. He's since visited several schools and looks to be a soft verbal at best.

    Wheatley is expected to follow his father's footsteps at Michigan but is open to taking visits to other schools.

    If Penn State doesn't land a tight end in this class, it won't affect the roster in the long term. However, if the program is able to pull one of the top players at the position, it will shore up the tight end spot for another few years.

Offensive Line: A

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    Sterling Jenkins

    • 6'8", 305 pounds
    • 4-star offensive tackle; 56th overall prospect in the country

    Ryan Bates

    • 6'5", 280 pounds
    • 4-star offensive tackle; third-ranked overall prospect in Pennsylvania

    Steven Gonzalez

    • 6'3", 300 pounds
    • 4-star dual offensive guard; ninth-ranked OG recruit in the country


    In the Mix

    1. Grant Newsome

    This group is probably deserving of an A-plus, but there has to be room for a bump if Newsome chooses Penn State over Michigan next month.

    Jenkins is the top player in the state and happens to fill a position of need. He could have picked just about any school in the country but chose Penn State over Ohio State in the end.

    Bates is a tweener who would probably play guard if Newsome comes on board. A top-150 player nationally, Bates would likely be considered a top-five player at his position if he were graded as a guard rather than a tackle.

    Gonzalez gives Penn State the second (Juwan Johnson), third (Wimbush) and fourth top prospects from New Jersey.

Defensive Line: B

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    Adam McLean

    • 6'2", 290 pounds
    • 4-star defensive tackle; second overall prospect in Maryland 

    Kamonte Carter

    • 6'4", 235 pounds
    • 4-star athlete; sixth overall prospect in Maryland

    Ryan Buchholz

    • 6'6", 230 pounds
    • 3-star defensive end; 11th-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania

    Jonathan Holland

    • 6'4", 235 pounds
    • 3-star defensive end; 19th overall prospect in Maryland


    In the Mix

    1. Trent Thompson

    Hardly a subpar haul here, but Franklin may have been able to lure a couple of high-profile ends if the process had dragged out a little longer. As it is now, the class is full at end and will only take another tackle if the program can get a legitimate stud. 

    McLean has the potential to be an all-conference type of player at the next level, and Carter's athleticism is off the charts. 

    Buchholz is already working on adding weight and could be a sleeper in this class, and Holland is probably underrated. He holds offers from Florida State, Georgia, Clemson and others. 

    Trent Thompson is the top-rated overall prospect in the country and seems open to visiting Penn State this fall. It will be interesting to see if that materializes.

Linebacker: B+

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    Josh Barajas

    • 6'3", 210 pounds
    • 4-star inside linebacker; top-rated overall prospect in Indiana

    Jake Cooper

    • 6'1", 220 pounds
    • 3-star inside linebacker; 16th overall prospect in Pennsylvania


    In the Mix

    1. Manny Bowen
    2. Jerome Baker

    Barajas chose Penn State over offers from Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. He could be an immediate contributor once he arrives on campus.

    Cooper's athleticism could surprise some, as he recently recorded a 4.60-second 40-yard dash and a 32.8-inch vertical after weighing in at 234 pounds at the New Jersey NFTC. According to, Cooper was the fastest linebacker to run at the camp.

    Baker has cooled on the Nittany Lions, but Bowen could commit to the blue and white in the near future. 

Cornerback: C

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    Committed: None


    In the Mix

    1. John Reid
    2. Jordan Whitehead

    It could be that Franklin and his staff feel good about where they stand, or maybe they haven't put much of a priority on the position this year, but for whatever reason, cornerback is the only position that Penn State hasn't received a verbal.

    Fortunately, the Nittany Lions are in good shape, having two of the nation's best in their backyard.

    Despite holding offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame, Whitehead has visited Penn State and Ohio State twice in the last few months and is believed to be torn between the two schools.

    Reid is considered a heavy Penn State lean, but he's also considering Notre Dame and holds offers from Alabama, Miami and Michigan.

    If Penn State can land both Reid and Whitehead, it will have verbals from the top five prospects in Pennsylvania.

Safety: B+

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    Jarvis Miller

    • 6'2", 188 pounds
    • 3-star safety; fifth-ranked prospect in Connecticut

    Ayron Monroe

    • 6'0", 195 pounds
    • 3-star safety; 10th-ranked prospect in Washington, DC 


    In the Mix: None 

    An intriguing duo, Miller and Monroe were arguably the staff's top two choices at safety in this cycle. 

    Monroe is a speedy DB who recently ran a 4.45 40-yard dash (laser-timed) and holds offers from Auburn, Mississippi State and Nebraska.

    Miller was all but unheard of before he became Penn State's first committed player in this class. He recently received an offer from Michigan State and boasts a 4.64-second 40 time.


    All star ratings and recruit rankings refer to the 247Sports Composite scores.