Rasheed Walker came to campus as the No. 65 overall player and No. 6 offensive tackle in the Class of 2018. One of the more prized recruiting wins in Franklin's time at Penn State, this could be the year Walker solidifies the left side of the offensive line.
The Nittany Lions have lacked any kind of superstar along the offensive line since arguably Donovan Smith. Ryan Bates was a good presence, but lacked the true "nasty" streak necessary to dominate. Connor McGovern had some great games and showed awesome potential, but would turn around and struggle the next week. Finding that mix of nasty and consistency has evaded the Lions' program for several years and it's really held them back.
You add a great offensive line in front of Saquon Barkley and he doesn't have to run for his life starting four yards behind the line of scrimmage. You put a great offensive line in front of Trace McSorley in 2018 and maybe he doesn't have to fight through injuries over the final two-thirds of the season.
Good offensive and defensive lines are the difference between college football playoff contention and hoping you can win eight games one year. It's no secret Penn State boasts one of the best defensive lines in the nation, so all that should be missing is a great offensive line, right?
Mr. Walker, come on down.
Left tackle is the most important position along the line, as he protects the blindside of the quarterback. They require a special mix of size and athleticism. Walker checks both boxes. At 6-6, 304 pounds, he possesses prototypical size for a superstar offensive tackle.
Given the presence of Ryan Bates, Will Fries, and Chasz Wright last year, the staff felt comfortable letting Walker redshirt. While Walker could've already been one of the better linemen on the team, the staff saw the value in redshirting him.
With Walker's lofty rankings coming out of high school, he faces plenty of high expectations. With Bates off to the NFL and Will Fries struggling to take the next step, the left tackle spot is wide open for the taking. The staff could be looking towards Walker to anchor the line. With new starters at both quarterback and running back, he'll be looked up to live up to those expectations. It'd be great if Sean Clifford could focus on his own development and game plan instead of always having to worry about his blindside on every play. Rasheed Walker's ability to adapt and progress could easily be one of the biggest factors in Penn State's success in 2019.