Penn State appears to be establishing a tremendous foundation to get back to their roots as LBU.
Every year, 247Sports distinguishes 32 high school seniors as five star recruits. That 32 is based on their opinion of which players are the equivalent of first-round picks. Just like being a first-round NFL pick, being named a five-star means you are an elite talent. Do they get every ranking correct? No, but there is a large correlation between being a high draft pick and your rank coming out of high school. Brandon Smith and Lance Dixon are the latest Nittany Lions to join the five-star club.
Brandon Smith, ILB
Smith checked in at No. 12 overall (up from 14) and No. 1 inside linebacker. He has long been thought of as a possible game-wrecker at the linebacker spot. He brings with him outstanding length, athleticism, and explosiveness. All that's missing is a little bit more strength but that will surely come after a few months in the weight room. 247 clearly looks upon him favorably enough to think he could be a superstar for the Nittany Lions.
Lance Dixon, olb
This one was a bit more surprising. Dixon debuted in the rankings as a middling three-star, being ranked as low as No. 402 overall. He fluctuated in the 300s until February of 2018 as he rocketed up to 160. As the tape came in of him at linebacker and he participated in more camps, evaluators at 247 saw something special. He has shown explosiveness that is borderline unparalleled, and possibly greater than any other linebacker in the country. His ranking is more of a projection as he needs to put on 20-25 pounds and started his high school career at safety, but this feels like a pretty safe bet. His final ranking of 13th overall is up from 49th.
Penn State fans have been clamoring for the glory days of LBU. Adding Smith and Dixon into the mix along with former five-star Micah Parsons makes it feel like those wishes will come true sooner rather than later.
For the full 247 Final Five-star rankings, check this link. As for the other 215 in 247's full final rankings for the 2019 class, those will be released on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
*Disclaimer: The above rankings are based on 247's sole rankings and do not take into account the 247 Composite rankings that combine 247, Rivals, and ESPN.