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.
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.