With the holiday season behind us (Early Signing Day, that is), Penn State still has some work to do in rounding out the Class of 2019. Thankfully, there are some great options left on the table.
James Franklin and Co. put together the best possible Early Signing Period: he secured a letter of intent from all 18 commits and even landed a highly-coveted Noah Cain. Most programs not named Alabama or Georgia can only dream of that. However, Franklin's work isn't completely done. There is still room for potentially several more players in the class. Here are the recruits left on the Nittany Lions' board for this cycle
D'von Ellies, DT
Penn State has lacked deep, effective defensive tackle depth the past couple of years, and misses on the recruiting trail are to blame for that. Ellies is perhaps the top target left on the Lions' board due to the combination of talent and being at a position of need. This one is Penn State's to lose.
If Ellies is not the top defensive tackle on the board, it's the big kid from New York. Hunte has been heavily pursued by Penn State for a majority of the 2019 cycle. He boasts prototypical size for a high school DT. He also realized early on that if he waited out this process, his offers would improve drastically due to the position he plays. Franklin will likely have to sweat this one out to the very end. With every additional offer that Hunte receives, his destination becomes increasingly foggy.
Smith Vilbert, DE
As an absolute behemoth of a human-being, Vilbert has seen his profile skyrocket over the past two months or so. At 6'6 and 250 pounds, Franklin would love for him to become the latest athletic freak that Sean Spencer can mold into a menace of a defensive end. His top-four consists of Penn State, Florida, Oregon, and Syracuse.
— Smithvilbert (@Smithvilbert2) December 17, 2018
Doug Nester, OG/OT
Penn State missing out on Jakai Moore, and Urban Meyer retiring created the perfect storm. Nester has begun to look around despite his status as an Ohio State commit due to Meyer's retirement, and Penn State is very much in the running. He has the ability and size to swing out to tackle and the Lions would like one more player capable of swinging outside if needed. Expect Franklin to put on the full-court press. Nester was on campus unofficially right before the dead period, and should return in January for an official visit before signing in February.
While securing the signature of John Dunmore was arguably Franklin's biggest recruiting win of the cycle, the Lions could still use more than a single wide receiver in this class. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a number one target left with Emery Simmons heading back to Chapel Hill and David Bell seemingly destined for Purdue. Demariyon Houston and TJ Jones could be names to watch down the stretch.
Thanks to Franklin's chops as a recruiter, he has given himself and his staff the luxury of putting all of their chips towards these few recruits without having to worry about any current commits. Franklin has proven time and time again his ability as a closer, and this next month should prove no different.