Penn State

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

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.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL P.J. Mustipher

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL P.J. Mustipher

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 PJ Mustipher, who is ranked as the No. 5 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by 247sports.

Height: 6-4
Weight: 290
School: McDonogh School (Md.)
Projected position: Defensive tackle

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

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

Other offers: Alabama, Duke, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Projection: It hasn’t been long since Penn State has had a truly dominant force in the middle of its defense, but Mustipher is evidence enough that the Nittany Lions won’t have to wait much longer to see another in a line of brilliant tackles. He’s so light on his feet that interior offensive linemen often have trouble getting a hand on him, and he’ll attack a gap quickly, making him potentially a pretty good pass rusher as well as a good run stuffer. But he’s big enough and strong enough to also line up over the center and occupy several blockers. Mustipher registered 45 tackles, 17 TFLs, 14 sacks and two forced fumbles as a senior, and that’s with plenty of offenses designing their schemes away from where Mustipher lines up. He was the 2017 state heavyweight wrestling champion in Maryland, which helps to explain why he’s so elusive and downright slippery for blockers, and that’s a trait that will help him at the next level. He’ll only get better as he adds strength, and he might be the most sure bet in this recruiting class to have a successful Penn State career. He’ll compete immediately for playing time, even if the staff would like to see him add some of that weight and strength during a redshirt season.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Jordan Miner

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Jordan Miner

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 back Jordan Miner, who is ranked as the No. 23 cornerback prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
School: Wiregrass Ranch HS (Fla.)
Projected position: Cornerback

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

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

Other offers: Arkansas, Auburn, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Toledo, Tulane, Central Florida, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin.

Projection: Miner played at a large school in Florida and was an all-state player, which tells you that he is a top player against strong competition. Evidently, he hasn’t always run a great 40, but that can be a bit misleading at times at the high school level, and he’ll likely get faster at Penn State. Miner has the size, frame and skillset to be a competitive cornerback in the Big Ten, and even though he’ll certainly redshirt in 2018, Miner should be a regular contributor by 2020.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Jesse Luketa

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Jesse Luketa

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 Jesse Luketa, who is ranked as the No. 11 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by both Rivals and 247sports.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 239
School: Mercyhurst Prep
Projected position: Outside linebacker

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

Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers: Auburn, Baylor, Boston College, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Kentucky Christian, Louisville, Lafayette, LSU, Maryland, UMass, Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Missouri, North Carolina State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Vanderbilt, West Virginia.

Projection:
During the Fiesta Bowl lead-up, Penn State coach James Franklin said of his defense what should have been obvious to anyone who watches the Nittany Lions play enough: They’re playing a lot more like the 3-2-5 defense that Franklin used at Vanderbilt than the 4-3 scheme that Penn State has implemented pretty much throughout its history. That’s a product of opposing offenses putting more speed on the field, obviously. But it also speaks to Penn State’s relative lack of depth at linebacker the last few years, where there just aren’t enough linebackers good enough in pass coverage to warrant being on the field on a third-and-7. But a guy like Luketa can change that thinking. He’s a pure outside linebacker, because he really excelled at the high school level in pass coverage. He has quick feet and reads the quarterback well, and he compiled four interceptions during his senior season, to boot. Plus, he’s still quite good against the run. When opponents try to stretch the running game sideline to sideline, he’s a difference-maker. He’s slippery for blockers and sheds them easily, plus his tackling form is solid. He’s big enough, strong enough, to compete for immediate playing time in a linebacking corps that could use his help.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: QB Will Levis

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: QB Will Levis

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 quarterback Will Levis, who is ranked as the No. 27 pro-style quarterback prospect in the nation by 247sports.

Height:
6-4
Weight: 222
School: Xavier HS (Conn.)
Projected position: Quarterback

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

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

Other offers:
Albany, Ball State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Columbia, UConn, Dartmouth, Florida State, Fordham, Harvard, Holy Cross, Iowa, UMass, North Carolina, Ohio, Ole Miss, Princeton, Rhode Island, Southern Mississippi, Syracuse, Toledo, Western Michigan, Yale.

Projection: Sometimes, you can tell by the offers how a prospect is evaluated, but Levis’ offers range from the Ivy Leagues to the FCS to the non-power conferences to big-time programs like Florida State and Penn State. Basically, it comes down to “either you see ‘it’ with him, or you don’t.” But, there’s so much to like about Levis, it’s difficult to see why he’s not a higher-rated prospect. He has prototypical size for a pocket passer, and he can move. He’s got a bit of gunslinger to him, and on film, he looks a lot like former Penn State and West Scranton quarterback Matt McGloin when he’s in the pocket, in the sense that he is fearless enough to stand in, try to buy an extra minute, then take a chance on any throw. But he runs pretty well, and he might get faster once he gets into Penn State’s strength program. If he does, he’ll have a very Tommy Stevens-like skill set, because he’s a very physical runner and unafraid to get an extra yard or two by lowering the shoulder. Levis passed for 2.793 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior, but the guess here is that his competition wasn’t the best. He’ll have time to develop behind several quarterbacks well-positioned ahead of him. But there’s a lot of upside here.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: TE Zack Kuntz

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: TE Zack Kuntz

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 tight end Zack Kuntz, who is ranked as the No. 4 tight end prospect in the nation by both Rivals and 247sports.

Height: 6-7
Weight: 235
School: Camp Hill HS
Projected position: Tight end

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

Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers: Alabama, Duke, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

Projection:
Like his recruiting classmate Pat Freiermuth, Kuntz will have a shot to contribute very early at Penn State, especially considering he is already enrolled for the spring semester and can participate with the squad in camp next month. But there are some tests he’s going to have to pass before the Nittany Lions look at him as a serious contributor. For starters, some list him at 220 pounds, others higher; and the truth is he looks and plays somewhere in the middle. Also, he played wideout in high school, and there is no film at all of him blocking defensive linemen, which is obviously an essential part of what a tight end’s role is at Penn State. And, while there should be some questions about his straight-line speed, he looks especially quick for a player his size. He can juke a defender on a route, especially a stiffer safety. His potential made him one of the most sought-after tight ends in the nation, but he’s not a finished product, and the staff is going to have to make big strides to get him on the field this fall. If not, he’ll look to contribute as a redshirt freshman in 2019. But Penn State could really use Kuntz sooner.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Charlie Katshir

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: LB Charlie Katshir

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 Charlie Katshir, who is ranked as the No. 34 outside linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 210
School: Cumberland Valley HS
Projected position: Outside linebacker

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

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

Other offers: Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, West Virginia

Projection: Katshir starred as a receiver and safety as a senior, making 37 catches for seven touchdowns on offense and responding with 47 tackles and four picks on defense. He was a great two-way high school player, but he’s not going to be a receiver at Penn State, because he doesn’t have the speed. and he’s not going to be a safety at Penn State, because he’s too big. He’s going to need to learn how to play linebacker, and he does show some of the necessary attributes to make the move. He’s a solid tackler who plays with good leverage. He’s strong, and will get stronger in Penn State’s strength program. But, he’s a project, and he’s going to have a lot to learn about linebacker, because he’s going to be taking on linemen more often than he did at the high school level. He’ll need at least a year, and probably two, before he becomes a serious contender for playing time on defense in 2020.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL Aeneas Hawkins

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DL Aeneas Hawkins

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 Aeneas Hawkins, who is ranked as the No. 22 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 6-3
Weight: 260
School: Archbishop Moeller HS (OH)
Projected position: Defensive tackle

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

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

Other offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Hampton, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Toledo, Central Florida, UCLA, USC, South Florida, Vanderbilt.

Projection: There’s a ton to like about Hawkins’ game, but rest assured, he’ll be a project. He has great feet, maybe the best of any defensive tackle in the 2018 class, and that’s going to be a good foundation for him. But he needs to get both bigger and stronger, as most every young interior defensive lineman does. Hawkins has to learn to use his hands better, and play with better leverage, especially once he gets bigger. That said, Hawkins is the son of former defensive back Artrell Hawkins, who played 11 seasons in the NFL after being drafted by Cincinnati in 1998. So he should be able to learn quickly and rely on his athleticism throughout the process. He’s a good prospect with plenty of potential to be a great player. But Penn State would be wise to let him learn for a few years before competing for playing time in 2020 — even though he’s so explosive, he’ll challenge in 2019 if he puts it together quicker than anticipated.