Penn State

Beat writer Donnie Collins keeps you posted with in-depth analysis and commentary

Class of 2018 Scouting Reports: The full list

Class of 2018 Scouting Reports: The full list

A list of scouting reports for the 23 signed members of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class.

QB
Will Levis

RB
Ricky Slade

WR
Jahan Dotson
Daniel George
Justin Shorter

TE
Pat Freiermuth
Zack Kuntz

OL
Nana Asiedu
Bryce Effner
Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs
Rasheed Walker

DL
Judge Culpepper
Aeneas Hawkins
PJ Mustipher
Jayson Oweh

LB
Charlie Katshir
Jesse Luketa
Micah Parsons
Nick Tarburton

DB
Trent Gordon
Isaiah Humphries
Jordan Miner

K
Jake Pinegar

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: OL Rasheed Walker

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: OL Rasheed Walker

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at offensive lineman Rasheed Walker, who is ranked as the No. 6 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by 247sports and No. 7 by Rivals.

Height: 6-6
Weight: 295
School: North Point HS (Md.)
Projected position: Offensive tackle

Ranking: Four stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN

Status: Signed LOI in February; expected to enroll Summer 2018

Other offers: Arizona State, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Howard, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Toledo, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia.

Projection: This wasn’t a huge haul of offensive linemen for the Nittany Lions in 2018, but for my money, Walker is the best prospect Penn State landed at the position. He plays with great leverage, which enables him to drive through defenders in the running game while using his long wingspan to hold off pass rushers. He pretty consistently beats ends off the ball to his spot, and he uses his hands well once he gets there. Walker looks fast in pads, he’s at his best when he’s getting out in front of a play and finding potential tacklers to hit. He’s a natural tackle, but he can pull like a guard. He has every athletic tool necessary to become a big-time offensive lineman for Penn State. He’ll make a run at significant playing time in 2019.

Long-committed receiver not joining PSU program

Harrisburg receiver Shaquon Anderson-Butts, and Under Armour All-American and three-star prospect who had been verbally committed to the Nittany Lions since July, is no longer part of the 2018 recruiting class.

Anderson-Butts officially signed with Iowa Western Community College on Wednesday morning, on National Letter of Intent Signing Day.

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Penn State still is in the running for a top receiver prospect — four-star Solomon Enis of Arizona — as well as talented offensive tackle Rasheed Walker. There could also be another surprise as the day goes along, but Anderson-Butts is out. He was the only player committed to Penn State during the early signing period in December who didn’t sign with the program, evidently due to an academic issue.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Nick Tarburton

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Nick Tarburton

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at linebacker Nick Tarburton, who is ranked as the No. 10 inside linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 242
School: Pennridge HS
Projected position: Middle linebacker

Ranking: Four stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN

Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers:
Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse

Projection: There’s a sense that the middle linebacker position is going to belong to Micah Parsons for the foreseeable future, but Tarburton is going to have something to say about that. There’s plenty to like about his game. He diagnoses plays really well, and you can often see him on film before the snap getting teammates into the right position. He consistently beats offensive players to their spots, which says that not only is he athletic enough to blow up plays before they can get going, but he’s also a hard enough worker in the film room to be able to anticipate. He’s good enough in pass coverage, but he really shined in high school against the run. He’s an aggressive player, and a vicious tackler — maybe too vicious, at times. He’ll too often go for the punishing hit rather than the textbook one, which could lead to some penalties at the next level if he doesn’t know when to pick his spots. He’s not near the natural athlete Parsons is, but he’s a true inside linebacker who thinks the game and is able to play faster than he in reality is because he’s so prepared. He’s on campus right now, and it will be interesting to see if Tarburton can impress the coaches with his savvy and aggression in the spring. He’ll get a look at the mike linebacker position which desperately needs to be filled in an intriguing fight for playing time between him, Parsons and redshirt freshman Ellis Brooks.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: RB Ricky Slade

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: RB Ricky Slade

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at running back Ricky Slade, who is ranked as the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation by 247sports.

Height: 5-9
Weight: 185
School: C.D. Hylton HS (Va.)
Projected position: Running back

Ranking:
Five stars by 247sports; Four stars by Rivals.com and ESPN

Status:
Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018

Other offers: Baylor, Boston College, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Western Michigan.

Projection: Slade has what you can’t teach: Speed to burn. He’s light on his feet, able to stop on a dime and then start again, reaching full speed quickly. Nobody he played in high school had an answer for his speed, which helped him gain big yards up the middle and, often, on carries that went outside the tackle. Slade ran for 1,978 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior and was the 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year in Virginia. He has the ability to catch passes out of the backfield and be a consistent extension of the passing game. Slade will be big part of Penn State’s passing game for years go come. However, even with Saquon Barkley gone, Penn State still has a logjam of talent at the running back, and Slade is going to have to get better to be a meaningful force on Saturdays Slade will need to get stronger and become a better pass protector if he’s to have any significant run in 2018. That said, his speed will be tempting to put on the field and let the chips fall where they may.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: WR Justin Shorter

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: WR Justin Shorter

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at receiver Justin Shorter, who is a consensus top-20 prospect in the nation and the No. 1 receiving prospect in the nation according to 247sports.

Height:  6-4
Weight: 213
School: South Brunswick (N.J.) HS
Projected position: Receiver

Ranking: Five stars by 247sports and ESPN and Rivals.com

Other offers: Boston College, Indiana, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, North Carolina, Old Dominion, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Projection: Physically, Shorter looks like he was built by central casting to portray a prototypical wide receiver. He has ideal size at 6-foot-4, and although he has room to grow, he’s big and strong enough to make an immediate impact on the major-college level. He drew rave reviews from scouts at the Under Armour All-American Game in January because of his size-speed combination and the ability to manipulate his body to make plays on even poorly thrown balls. Watch his film, and you’ll see him run every kind of route, and do it well. Shorter’s hands are strong, which enable him to hold on to his catches even in traffic. He has enough speed and elusiveness at the line of scrimmage, too, to make even good cornerbacks miss on their jams. He’s not a finished product, of course, but Shorter is as good a receiving prospect as there is in the nation when you consider all of his physical skills. He can stand to run sharper routes, but he’ll get better in that regard once he gets some college-level coaching. It would be stunning if Shorter didn’t play some offensively for the Nittany Lions this season, and he may emerge as the season goes on as a boon to an offense that is going to need to figure some things out at the receiver spot.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: OL Fredrick Scruggs

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: OL Fredrick Scruggs

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at offensive lineman Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs, who is ranked as the No. 4 center in the nation by 247spors and the No. 19 guard by Rivals.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 270
School: Erie Cathedral Prep
Projected position: Center/guard

Ranking: Four stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN

Status: Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018

Other offers: Akron, Albany, Iowa State, Kent State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse, Temple, Toledo.

Projection: Good offensive line coaches — and Penn State’s Matt Limegrover is among them — will focus on a player’s footwork when determining what kind of lineman he can be. Scruggs’ feet never seem to stop moving, and it’s a big reason why he’s technically one of the better offensive line prospects in the entire recruiting class. A first-team Class 4A All-State lineman, Scruggs plays with tremendous leverage, and he finishes off blocks ferociously. He’s a fiery player who is used to winning. He bullies players on the field, and even at 6-3, 270 pounds, he looks like he can add 30 pounds and still be trim. Scruggs doesn’t put up great times in his workouts, speed-wise, but he plays fast, anticipating well. He’ll probably need a year or two to get stronger, and he’ll certainly have to move inside, perhaps even to center, to maximize his size. But Scruggs is probably one of the more underrated prospects in this class, because he already has great technique and intangibles.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: K Jake Pinegar

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: K Jake Pinegar

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at kicker Jake Pinegar, who is ranked as the No. 6 kicker prospect in the nation by 247sports.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
School: Ankeny (Iowa) Centennial HS
Projected position: Kicker

Ranking: Three stars by 247sports and ESPN; Two stars by Rivals.com

Status: Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018

Other offers: Bowling Green, Indiana, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois

Projection: Kickers can be difficult to figure sometimes, as it seems teams are often as likely to get a good one from a walk-on tryout as they are a scholarship. But this is a position Penn State badly needs to fill, and Pinegar will be in the mix this fall. He made 9 of his 13 field goal attempts as a senior, with two coming from 60 yards. So clearly, he has a strong leg, and he regularly can boot the ball through the end zone, which would be an improvement for the Nittany Lions. Pinegar also seems able to kick the ball directionally. What he really has working for him is that he’s a terrific athlete. He was an Iowa all-State honoree as a defensive back, and he also owns school records in the long jump and high jump. Kickers don’t tend to develop (or in some cases fall back to the pack) until they start to focus exclusively on the craft, which Pinegar will do for the first time when he gets on campus this summer. He’ll be interesting to watch in camp and should at least get a look as a kickoff man. He’ll compete with Carson Landis for the starting job, with the most consistent performer in camp getting the nod.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL/LB Micah Parsons

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL/LB Micah Parsons

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at two-way standout Micah Parsons, who is ranked as the No. 5 overall prospect in the nation by 247sports.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 241
School: Harrisburg HS
Projected position: Middle linebacker/Defensive end

Ranking: Five stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN

Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers: Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (Fla.) Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, USC, West Virginia.

Projection: Parsons was a second-team All-USA pick on defense by USA Today as a senior and finished the 2017 season with 55 tackles, 17.5 TFLs and 10.5 sacks on defense and also rushed for 1,239 yards and 29 touchdowns on offense. He’s the consensus No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania, and a top 10 prospect in the nation by any conservative estimate. And that only begins to tell the story. For his size, Parsons’ speed is ungodly. Watch his film as a running back in high school — and he played in a really good, big-school league — and you see what you’d expect, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound man running over some kids. But Parsons also runs around them, and past them, and jukes them, and he’s accelerating toward the end of his runs. Most figured he’d be a defensive end prospect at the college level, and he’d have made an impact there immediately if Penn State needed him to. But head coach James Franklin said in December that he planned to use Parsons this spring at middle linebacker, and that’s really the spot where his skills would best be put to the test. He’ll be able to use his sideline-to-sideline speed to run down ball carriers, and there’s no reason he won’t be really good in pass coverage, too, once he learns the schemes. Learning that to the point where he can start as a true freshman is easier said than done, but Parsons is the type of athlete that almost always makes a big impact. Worst-case scenario, he becomes a pass-rushing end who will be a force on special teams. But even that type of career will be a disappointment, given how gifted he is athletically. Best-case scenario: He’s an NFL-caliber, every down linebacker who could also make an impact at DE and on offense. And he’ll be that way the moment he starts his first camp.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL Jayson Oweh

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL Jayson Oweh

As part of National Letter of Intent Signing Day, Times Shamrock newspapers’ Penn State football beat writer Donnie Collins is breaking down every member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class. This is a look at defensive lineman Jayson Oweh, who is ranked as the No. 11 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by both Rivals and 247sports.

Height: 6-5
Weight: 240
School: Blair Academy (N.J.)
Projected position: Defensive end

Ranking: Four stars by 247sports, Rivals.com and ESPN

Status: Signed LOI in December; expected to enroll Summer 2018

Other offers: Alabama, Boston College, Dartmouth, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Louisville, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Navy, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, UCF, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin.

Projection:
Oweh’s film is impressive. It’s even more impressive when you consider that he probably really doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. Oweh was a pretty good basketball prospect before he blew up as a football prospect when he joined his high school team as a junior. He was a dominant player as a senior, and athletically, he rates almost off the charts. He ripped of a 4.6 40-yard dash, which is insane for a 240-pound end. His quick feet have led to strong shuttle times in camps, and he had one of the best SPARQ ratings of any defensive end prospect in the nation, a sign that his athleticism has translated from the hardwood to the gridiron. Oweh isn’t on campus yet, and he has a lot to learn about the intricacies of playing the end position, which he mostly did from a standup position in high school. Penn State could even move him to outside linebacker, because he has the size and athleticism to make that work. But his real upside is as an edge pass rusher, and Oweh has a chance to crack the lineup before the 2018 season is over, if Penn State wants to give it a shot. He’d probably be best-served redshirting before making a run at playing time in a loaded defensive end group in 2019.