Penn State

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

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.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Isaiah Humphries

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Isaiah Humphries

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 Isaiah Humphries, who is ranked as the No. 39 safety prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 191
School: Sachse (Tex.) HS
Projected position: Safety

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

Status: Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers: Arkansas, Baylor, California, Colorado, Duke, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, SMU, Texas-San Antonio, Utah, Vanderbilt.

Projection: The son of former Penn State DB Leonard Humphries, Humphries is a true safety, one who reads the ball well, breaks on it and has the hands to pick off the throw. But what’s most impressive about him — and what makes him likely to stick at safety — is his ability to diagnose a play. Humphries has great instincts and gets a solid jump on pass plays side to side, helping shut down running lanes for slot receivers and backs. He’s on campus for the spring semester like fellow Texan Trent Gordon, and also like Gordon, he’s playing a position that is going to be wide open for the Nittany Lions. He could be an immediate factor on special teams and challenge to crack the second team on defense.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Trent Gordon

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: DB Trent Gordon

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 Trent Gordon, who is ranked as the No. 29 safety prospect in the nation by Rivals and the No. 40 safety by 247sports.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 180
School: Manvel (Tex.) HS
Projected position: Safety

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

Status:
Signed LOI in December; Enrolled Spring 2018

Other offers:
Air Force, Army, California, Colorado, Dartmouth, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Navy, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Purdue, Rice, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Yale.

Projection:
Originally, I figured Gordon would slot in at cornerback, because of his size and overall skillset. But the more film of him you watch, the more he looks like a linebacker. His play defies his size. He’s a force against the run, and he buries receivers one-on-one on the edge. On paper, he’s the perfect fit as a third-down defensive back, coming in to get an extra DB out there, because he can stop the run and shows pretty good pass coverage skills. The knock on him right now is that his hands aren’t good enough to get a ton of interceptions, and he appears to play the man a little better than he plays the ball at this stage. But that can be cleaned up, and Gordon is an all-around solid athlete who is smart and will adjust well to the college game. Even though he enrolled early, it’s likely he’ll take a redshirt in 2018 and look to contribute in 2019.

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: WR Daniel George

Class of 2018 Scouting Report: WR Daniel George

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 Daniel George, who is ranked as the No. 41 receiver prospect in the nation by Rivals.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 201
School: Oxon Hill (Md.) HS
Projected position: Receiver

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

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

Other offers: Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, UMass, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Rutgers, Temple, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Projection:
If Penn State’s haul at receiver isn’t the best in the country this year, I don’t know who is better. Because nobody talks about George, and he’s got potential to be a real star. … George has great hands, and even better than that, he reads the ball well in the air. On the so-called 50-50 balls, he’s going to win many more battles than he loses because — at least on film — he always seems to get the best read on a throw of any player on the field. … He’s not just a project, either. He was productive in high school, hauling in 61 catches for 897 yards and 10 of his 27 career TDs as a senior. … His 40-yard dash time isn’t outstanding — ESPN has him at 4.6 — but he’s a seven-time All-American in track, winning Maryland state title in 300-meter hurdles. He is a tremendous athlete who can both make tacklers miss in the open field and run right through one-on-one attempts. … What I like about him most is his size. He looks bigger than his listed 201 pounds, and he hits the open field with bad intentions once he has the ball. He looks a lot to me like an Anquan Bolden type, who can make the tough catches and plow through defenders for extra yards, as well as stretch the field. Not sure Penn State will need him to as a true freshman, but he can contribute if they do. He’ll make his on-field debut no later than the 2019 season, and he’ll be a big factor throughout his career.