Who Will Replace Chris Bleich in Penn State's 2018 Recruiting Class?

By Nick Polak on April 21, 2017 at 8:05 am
Nana Asiedu

Evan G. Watkins, 247Sports


Typically when a four-star, in-state offensive tackle chooses to back off from his verbal commitment, things are far from okay for that school (save for the Alabamas, Ohio State, and Clemsons of the world). However, the news that four-star Chris Bleich (Wyoming Valley West, Pa.) has de-committed from Penn State is hardly a death blow for the Nittany Lions' 2018 recruiting class.

Does it hurt? Absolutely. By all accounts, the staff still wanted Bleich, even with his seemingly never-ending stream of visits to every school on the east coast. He's a talented prospect who likely has a bright future ahead of him. But thanks to the staff's recruiting skill and the recent success of the program, there are more than a few options to fill Bleich's place in the class.

Let's take a look at some of the other top names on the board right now for Penn State at offensive tackle.

★★★★ Nana Asiedu (North Stafford, Va.)

After visiting Penn State for the first time in late-February, the No. 108 player in the country actually named the Lions his leader. It was a nice gesture, but he had also done the same thing following a visit to Clemson ater a late-January visit, so there was reason to be skeptical.

That being said, Asiedu has done nothing to back down from that declaration and managed to complete a visit to North Carolina since then without naming them his new leader, so things are looking good for Penn State here. Asiedu will be back on campus this weekend for the Blue-White game, and while no one should necessarily be expecting a commitment, it's within the realm of possibility. Holding onto him in that situation, though, will prove tough.

★★★★ Rasheed Walker (North Point, Md.)

The Maryland product named a top-6 on Thursday consisting of Penn State, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Rutgers, and North Carolina. It's expected that things will boil down to Ohio State and Penn State when all is said and done. Walker, the No. 201 player in the country and No. 13 offensive tackle, has had a good offseason perception-wise, nearly moving inside the top-200 prospects in the country.

The coveted tackle last visited Penn State for the late-January Junior Day, and previous to that was in town for the Ohio State upset in October. No word yet on when he's expected back, but it's likely that he'll pop up in State College sometime this summer, and certainly at least once this fall.

★★★★ Matthew Jones (Erasmus Hall, Ny.)

Jones, who is primarily listed as a defensive tackle, is believed to be a target for the staff along the offensive line. Jones is the No. 49 player in the country, and plays for Erasmus Hall which has become something of an Ohio State feeder at this point. Needless to say, pulling him from the Buckeyes and the rest of the country will be tough. He was last on campus in January.

★★★ Antwan Reed (Muskegon, Mi.)

Reed, a three-star on the 247Sports Composite and a four-star on the 247Sports rankings, named Penn State a favorite back in early-April. He currently holds offers from both Michigan schools, Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Nebraska, and a few others. Reed will be in Happy Valley for Blue-White weekend, and similarly to Asiedu, I won't go as far as to predict a commitment, but it's not totally out of the question.

★★★★ Qadir White (Cardinal Hayes, Ny.)

White just picked up a Penn State offer in late-March. Since then, he's visited Rutgers and Boston College. White has a solid offer list including Georgia, Auburn, and Miami. He's currently rated as the No. 270 player in the country by the 247Sports Composite, and the No. 21 offensive tackle in the class. Expect to see White back for a game or two this fall.

★★★ Bryce Effner (Metea Valley, Il.)

Effner grabbed his Penn State offer after visiting in late-March. He doesn't boast the most impressive offer sheet yet, but he's been picking up steam in recent weeks, accumulating offers from Minnesota, Syracuse, and Duke since March 31. After receiving his Penn State offer, he told reporters that the Nittany Lions were near the top of his list. Effner will not be able to make the trip for Blue-White weekend.

★★★ Blake Zubovic (Belle Vernon, Pa.)

Zubovic, rated as the No. 432 player in the 2018 class and the No. 32 offensive tackle, was offered by Penn State during the late-March offer flurry. The Belle Vernon product was on campus that weekend, so the staff got a good look at him in person and clearly liked what they saw. Zubovic is expected on campus for Blue-White weekend, and by looking at his timeline on 247Sports, appears to be the first time he'll be visiting Penn State for a "gameday" experience.