The Penn State class of 2021 is now officially in the books. Though there are still some recruits in the class out there who have yet to sign with a school, by all accounts, the Nittany Lions are done in this cycle.
With just 16 prospects in the class, this is the smallest class James Franklin has brought in during this time with Penn State. The extra year of eligibility given to every player plus the activity in the transfer portal were big factors in that number (the team has five incoming transfers as of right now).
The other big factor in this class was COVID-19 itself. While the virus was a shadow over the entirety of the 2021 class, it hit Penn State especially hard as it relates to the world of recruiting. Over the years, one of the biggest reasons Franklin and his staff have been such successful recruiters is the impact that unofficial and official visits to campus have on recruits. Happy Valley is a special place and one that has a magnetic pull for many once they experience it themselves. Without the ability to truly have those visits (recruits could visit campus but weren't permitted to have contact with coaches or get any inside looks at anything football-related), recruiting should have been a massive challenge for the staff.
Instead, without the benefit of their ace in the hole, they still put together a top-25 class full of student-athletes with some very high ceilings and intriguing skillsets. Let's take a look at the names who fill out Penn State's 2021 recruiting class.
- Landon Tengwall, Offensive Tackle, .9740 (Name, Position, 247Sports Composite Rating)
Tengwall is the jewel of the class, bringing with him a rare combination of both a high ceiling and a very high floor (he could be ready to contribute as a freshman). Enrolling early further solidifies the likelihood he'll see the field in his first year on campus.
- Lonnie White, Wide Receiver, .9269
White, a big-time baseball prospect as well, will have the MLB Draft lingering over him until he finally suits up in the Blue and White. As a wide receiver, though, he has the potential to be an All-Big Ten level player. Assuming he ends up in Happy Valley, White will also play baseball for the Nittany Lions.
- Kalen King, Cornerback, .9131
Quietly, one of the best cornerback prospects in the country, King is solid athletically and outstanding technically. He'll need to get stronger but he has tremendous potential.
- Jaylen Reed, Safety, .9057
With some time to physically develop under Dwight Galt and learn the defensive playbook, the hard-hitting safety has the opportunity to be a strong presence in what's been an underwhelming safety group in recent years.
- Zakee Wheatley, Safety .8962
Wheatley is likely better described as an athlete right now, though he'll start his career at safety. He brings exciting athleticism to the defensive backfield but he's quite raw.
- Davon Townley, Defensive End, .8958
The final piece to the puzzle, Townley gave Penn State exactly what they need to wrap up the 2021 class. He has one of the highest ceilings of the entire class but as he just recently took up football, he won't reach that ceiling right away.
- Jamari Buddin, Outside Linebacker, .8893
Buddin is a fantastic athlete for the linebacker position and had a big-time senior season. He needs to build a bit more mass to play linebacker in the Big Ten, but he'll be a force when he's ready.
- Kobe King, Inside Linebacker, .8850
The other King twin, Kobe is massively built and as traditional of a MIKE backer as you can find. His sideline-to-sideline could improve but he is a hard hitter and comes downhill with ferocity.
- Christian Veilleux, Quarterback, .8817
Enrolling early helps Veilleux's journey but without a senior season of football, he'll need some time to refine his craft and get up to speed with college football.
- Rodney McGraw, Defensive End, .8817
With a big frame, McGraw will benefit greatly under one of the best strength coaches in the business in Dwight Galt.
- Harrison Wallace, Wide Receiver, .8806
The Alabama star was a senior-year riser and his athleticism across multiple sports is exciting for his potential.
- Jeffrey Davis Jr., Cornerback, .8755
Davis faced poor competition in high school so it's tough to predict how he'll translate to Power 5 football but his physical tools are that of a Big Ten player.
- Liam Clifford, Wide Receiver, .8748
The younger brother of quarterback Sean Clifford, Liam dominated Ohio high school football. Even if his ceiling isn't that of classmate Lonnie White, Clifford can be a solid contributor over his career.
- Nate Bruce, Offensive Guard, .8727
The Penn State staff is particularly excited about Bruce. He's a bulldozer and once he reshapes his body, he'll likely outplay his ranking by quite a bit.
- Khalil Dinkins, Tight End, .8674
At his size, Dinkins is incredibly athletic. He will start as a tight end, but his greatest upside could actually be at linebacker. Still, his preference is to play on the offensive side of the ball, but if it doesn't work out on offense, he could be a star for Brent Pry.
- Sander Sahaydak, Kicker, .8309
With a wrecking ball for a leg, Sahaydak has the potential to be the kind of game-changing kicker that can fill the roles of both Jake Pinegar and Jordan Stout. He has a very high ceiling.