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Re-Evaluating Penn State's 2011 Recruiting Class

Tim TolleyContributor IJune 16, 2014

Re-Evaluating Penn State's 2011 Recruiting Class

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    USA TODAY Sports

    While it's fun to grade and rank recruiting classes in the present, the truth is no one really knows how a group of kids is going to work out until after the fact.

    Penn State's 2010 class was ranked 11th in the country and included the likes of Silas Redd, Khairi Fortt, Rob Bolden, Paul Jones, Dakota Royer and Kevin Haplea. Four years later, that class has become a bit of a punchline after each one of those players transferred or didn't finish his career as a Nittany Lion.

    As fate would have it, the 2011 class—ranked 31st nationally—introduced us to the "Supa Six" and provided Penn State with arguably its best receiver ever as well as a group of kids who held the program together through trying times. 

    Let's take a look back at the 2011 class after the fact and see how those players have worked out compared to expectations.

Quarterbacks

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Who Signed? 

    None

     

    Re-Evaluation

    After signing Kevin Newsome in 2009, followed by Rob Bolden and Paul Jones in 2010, the Penn State staff didn't heavily pursue any quarterbacks in the 2011 class. In hindsight, that was a poor judgement call on its part as all three of those players combined for just 2,189 passing yards before transferring.  

     

    Grade: Incomplete

     

Running Backs

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Who Signed? 

    Bill Belton (4-star)

    Re-Evaluation 

    Following a late flip from Pitt, Belton arrived at Penn State as a 4-star "athlete" prospect and spent a year at wide receiver before finding his true position in the backfield. 

    He struggled early with grades and injuries but emerged last season to rush for over 800 yards and five touchdowns. He is now a veteran leader on the team. 

     

    Grade: B

Wide Receivers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Signed? 

    Matt Zanellato (3-star)

    Allen Robinson (3-star)

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    When Robinson was offered, many fans believed that it was a move to appease Rob Bolden, Robinson's high school teammate. Since then, "A-Rob" has gone on to set a number of receiving records for the Nittany Lions and was drafted in the second round of last month's NFL draft.

    Zanellato has seen limited snaps to this point but is poised to start and play a key role in 2014. His six career catches are good for second on the team by a wide receiver. 

     

    Grade: A

Tight Ends

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Signed? 

    Kyle Carter (3-star)

    Re-Evaluation 

    Ranked the 59th-best tight end in his class, Carter was named a Freshman All-American following a 36-catch, 453-yard campaign. This year, he'll be a part of what should be the most talented tight end group in the conference. 

    Grade: A

Offensive Line

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Who Signed? 

    Donovan Smith (4-star)

    Angelo Mangiro (4-star)

    Ryan Nowicki (3-star)

    Anthony Alosi (3-star) 

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    While Smith may be the best offensive tackle in the conference this season, the offensive line haul of 2011 hasn't quite lived up to expectations.

    Nowicki transferred to Illinois a couple summers ago, and Alosi was recently suspended, then kicked off the team for an off-field incident. 

    Mangiro should either start or be a contributor in 2014 somewhere along the interior of the offensive line. 

     

    Grade: B

Defensive LIne

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Signed? 

    Anthony Zettel (4-star DE)

    Deion Barnes (3-star DE)

    Shawn Oakman (4-star DE)

    Jordan Kerner (3-star DE)

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    Barnes is entering his third season as a starter and won Big Ten Freshman of the Year status in 2012. He suffered a down year statistically in 2013 but is capable of getting to the quarterback on every snap. He'll be joined in the starting lineup by Zettel, who has since moved to tackle and figures to be a disruptive force along the line. 

    Oakman was kicked out of Penn State shortly after the arrival of Bill O'Brien but has since cleaned up his act and found success at Baylor.

    Kerner had to step away from the game due to a lingering back injury.

     

    Grade: A-

Linebackers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Signed? 

    Gary Wooten (3-star)

    Ben Kline (3-star) 

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    Kline was committed to Pitt leading up to signing day but flipped to Penn State after the Panthers changed coaches. He has seen snaps the last two years and will battle for a starting job this fall, but injuries have been an issue throughout his career.

    Wooten was a late addition to the class and had to spend some time learning how to play linebacker. He is poised for some meaningful snaps this season and could play himself into a starting role in 2015. 

     

    Grade: B-

Secondary

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Who Signed? 

    Adrian Amos (3-star CB)

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    Amos saw extended action as a freshman and has become the unheralded leader of the secondary, if not the defense. His versatility has been key as he has moved between safety and cornerback countless times. 

    If he can settle in at safety this year, he should work his way up some draft boards during his senior season.

     

    Grade: A

Special Teams

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Who Signed? 

    Sam Ficken (2-star kicker)

     

    Re-Evaluation 

    Ficken was forced into action earlier than he should have been and had some early struggles in 2012. He has since proved to be slightly inconsistent, but his game-winner against Wisconsin will be forever etched into the hearts of the Penn State faithful.

     

    Grade: A

     

    All recruiting ratings and rankings reference the 247Sports Composite scores.

    All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

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