Nittany Lions could feel effects of scholarship limits
A reporter said to Penn State recruiting coordinator Charles London just as he wrapped up a meeting with the media on college football signing day Wednesday, “So, I guess on to 2014.”
“And 2015,” London replied with a smile.
The fact is that while the salvaging of the 2013 class and the ability to bring in several high-end prospects was a good start, the Nittany Lion coaching staff really will be put to the test in the next couple of seasons when they not only have to deal with a 15-scholarship limit per season, but also a 65-scholarship ceiling on the entire team.
“It’s going to be a numbers game. It’s going to be a balancing act, and that’s going to be true for the next couple of years,” Lions247’s Sean Fitz said. “The 15 number probably doesn’t affect the 2014 class as much as the 65 number.”
That’s a drop of 20 scholarships from other years. What that means as far as next year’s recruiting class is that the Lions probably won’t be able to even sign the reduced total of 15 the NCAA is permitting.
“Through talking to sources, I got the impression [they can sign] anywhere between eight and 10,” BlueWhite Illustrated recruiting analyst Ryan Snyder said, who later thought the number could go as high as 12.
That’s going to be a problem, because already at this point it looks like Penn State has a lot more slots to fill than it has scholarships to give.
“I think they need a defensive tackle. I think they need to focus again on defensive back, because the cupboard was so bare when they came in,” FightOnState.com’s Greg Pickel said. “I think you’re going to see an offensive lineman come in, as well.”
Other analysts thought there might be two offensive linemen. Even though Penn State already has a verbal commitment from Maryland all-purpose back Mark Allen, they’ve been giving out offers to top running backs from all over, like Washington, Pa.’s Shai McKenzie, Virginia’s Nick Scott, New Jersey’s Jonathan Hilliman, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Myles Autry and Florida’s Sony Michel.
Linebacker is considered a less pressing need, but a need nonetheless. There’s the likelihood of a wide receiver in the class. And it’s been reported that the Lion staff would like to bring in one quarterback per season and has been actively recruiting that position, although it might be a victim of the numbers crunch.
According to Fitz’s website, Penn State already has made scholarship offers to 43 players. In addition to Allen, several names already have emerged as front-runners to be part of this likely-to-be-abbreviated class.
n North Carolina wide receiver/cornerback/running back DeAndre Thompkins has Penn State very high on his list, but he might take time with his recruitment.
n Baltimore cornerback Troy Vincent, son of the former NFL player who also is trained by Stephon Morris’ dad, Roman.
n Gateway safety Montae Nicholson and Good Counsel Maryland guard Sam Mustipher could reopen the recruiting lines to their highly productive schools.
n While not a typical recruiting hotbed, Delaware boasts two very interesting prospects this season in wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Troy Reeder.
n Offensive tackle looks like a big need, and New Jersey’s Quenton Nelson, Virginia’s Steven Moss, Tennessee’s Alex Bars, Bethel Park’s Michael Grimm and Arizona’s Andrew Mike are in the picture.
Penn State’s off to such a good start. Ohio four-star wideout Thaddeus Snodgrass recently put on social media that the Lions were his early favorite, although whether or not there will be room at the inn for him is still up in the air.
“You have to aim high. You’re not going in with lower expectations because of the number of scholarships you have and the lingering cloud over the program,” Fitz said. “You have to go after those top-tier kids, see if you can pique some interest and get some kids on campus to see if they’ll buy what you are selling.”