With perhaps as few as three spots currently remaining in the 2018 recruiting class, plenty of attention is shifting towards 2019. As it currently stands, only one Pennsylvanian holds an offer from Penn State, State College High School cornerback Keaton Ellis. Only three Keystone State natives were included in the recently released Rivals250, RB Patrick Garwo (No. 154), DE Omar Speights (No. 192), and DB Tykee Smith (No. 244). In the current Rivals250 for the Class of 2018, seven Pennsylvanians appear higher than Garwo, and 10 total made the cut, with Micah Parons the highest at No. 5.
Plenty can and will change in the 17-plus months before the first letters hit fax machines, but those numbers underscore just how down the overall talent pool is across Pennsylvania in 2019. With that in mind, Penn State's 11-3, Big Ten Championship season of 2016 could not have come at a better time.
The buzz surrounding the 2017 Nittany Lions has turned a program that many felt was teetering on the brink heading into 2016 into one of of the hottest names on the recruiting trail. Not only has Penn State locked down most of their top local and regional targets, they have expanded into talent rich states like Florida and Texas. Top players from all across the country have included the Lions in their top programs, despite no more than an offer from the coaching staff.
If James Franklin can turn more of those out of state prospects into commits, the opportunity is there with the 2019 class to truly turn Penn State into a national program. Looking at the 247Sports list of targets, Penn State is heavily invested in traditional pipeline states New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. Beyond that, the Lions are looking back to Texas, and Florida, but also in places like Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois.
Make no mistake, Penn State recruiting will largely live in die within Pennsylvania's borders, along the Mid-Atlantic where they have traditionally found success, and augmenting those players with players from outside of that 300-mile radius James Franklin referenced at his introductory press conference. But this coming year presents such a unique situation in-state that the radium will need to expand.
Biggest 2019 targets
The first edition of the 2019 Rivals250 was released on Tuesday. BWI has a great breakdown of the litany of Penn State targets. A few names to keep in mind as the Lions shift into high gear with their next class.
- No. 9 DE Zach Harrison (Lewis Center, OH)
- No. 10 RB Devyn Ford (Stafford, VA)
- No. 25 OL Devontae Dodds (Belleville, MI)
- No. 28 OL Logan Brown (Kentwood, MI)
- No. 29 LB Shane Lee (Baltimore, MD)
- No. 57 DL Antonio Alfano (Oradell, NJ)
- No. 63 WR DeMarcco Hellams (Hyattsville, MD)
- No. 79 OL Caedan Wallace (Princeton, NJ)
- No. 96 LB Cade Stover (Lexington, OH)
- No. 100 DE Brandon Smith (Mineral, VA)
- No. 128 ATH Ronnie Hickman (Wayne, NJ)
- No. 172 DB Nyquee Hawkins (Orange, NJ)