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.
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.