Both of us here at The Silver Bullet have been amazed and fascinated with Penn State's 2010 recruiting class. So we sought out some help putting the pieces together with what is going on over in Happy Valley. So enjoy our interview with Will and Greg of WeWantTheLion.net!
Q: For those who have not been following closely, describe what has been going on for Penn State in the 2010 class?
A: Things have been going exceptionally well. Penn State has arguably the best recruiting class in the conference to this point, and one of the tops in the nation, pulling in top-flight recruits in positions across the board. PSU currently has nine 4-star and above recruits (according to scout.com) at positions like quarterback (x2), running back, wide receiver, middle linebacker, defensive tackle and on the o-line. The two quarterbacks that have committed are Robert Bolden and Paul Jones, 4 and 5 star recruits, respectively, and are both cut from the dual-threat mold that will be a necessity as PSU ventures deeper into the Spread HD offense. Speed has also been an emphasis at the skill positions, adding guys like Alex Kenney, Adrian Coxson and Levi Norwood at the WR position and Silas Redd at RB. With big talent coming in at the skill positions, it seems that the coaches have been able to sell the Spread HD to the guys they think can make it work. So as far as quality for this years class, it's there with plenty of high-end recruits and as for direction, it seems like the PSU staff is getting the guys that will fit the offense they unveiled last season.
A: We think that mostly it can be attributed to success on the field. Two years ago PSU was coming off a pretty average season and still playing a pretty bland style. It wasn't 3 yards and a cloud of dust, but it wasn't quite the offense we witnessed this past season. In 2008, PSU lost once during the regular season and went to their second BCS game in 4 seasons. They rolled out a new offense that would be appealing to a guy on the offensive side of the ball and put together a great defense. If you're a recruit and see those kinds of things happening, it becomes a place you want to play. It's a bit of a chicken/egg theory, but we're willing to guess that the success that the Lions had on the field this past season is a big reason for the jump in recruiting strength from last summer to this one.
It also helps that a lot of western PA kids are deciding against Pitt. Half empty Heinz Field must not be appealing enough. Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves.
Q: Are you surprised that Penn State is able to recruit this solidly considering JoePa's age?
A: Not at all. While he may be old enough to be the great grandfather of some of the kids he recruits, it's pretty evident that he must know how to relate to these kids and still knows what kids want to hear and see when they're choosing a college. And lets not kid anyone, Joe's not working alone out there on the recruiting trail. He has Jay and former XFL coach of the year Galen Hall out there preaching the benefits of the Spread HD and Tom Bradley bringing in kids for the defense. By all accounts, Jay and Bradley have been excellent with recruits and that's great because recruiting is a team effort, not just Joe's, and he has a more than capable staff helping him out. The biggest thing Joe probably brings to the table is the reputation and the chance to play for a living icon. He probably shows up, proves he's a living breathing human, not some kind of bionic machine and that seals the deal.
Q: From a Penn State fans perspective, how excited are you about the potential of this class?
A: It's hard to quantify that, but on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most excited -- probably an 8. It's fun to read stories about 5 star recruits or guys on ESPN's watch list, but in reality, once the season starts none of those numbers will mean much. In the end, they're still going to have to compete for a spot and earn their chance to play. Right now our star quarterback is a guy who probably wasn't strongly recruited at all, and look what he's done. It's exciting for a little bit during this time of year, but once the fall rolls around, stars and rankings don't mean anything and it's just about who shows up on Saturdays.
Okay, okay, we haven't been this excited since Williams and King came aboard. There. We said it.
Q: What names thus far from the 2010 class should OSU fans look out for?
A: The easy answer would be any one of the outstanding guys at the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball. Paul Jones and Robert Bolden could both be the QB of the future and guys like Coxson and Kenney will look to one day fill in the void left by the departure of Butler, Norwood and Williams. Everyone wants to know the names of the guys that will be scoring the points.
But we're going to go with two less glamorous positions (unless you play in the Big11Ten, that is) with inside linebacker Mike Hull and center Miles Dieffenbach. We here in Happy Valley love our linebackers and the word on the street is that Mike Hull is going to be a beast. Scout.com has him ranked the #2 at his position and everyone knows what an exceptional job the PSU staff has done in developing linebackers. Hopefully he joins the growing list of excellent linebackers to come out of the program.
And Dieffenbach has been an interesting story. He's from Pittsburgh, plays for a high school just north of the city. He's been a Pitt fan all his life and his dad is the tennis coach at Pitt. All logic says that this kid is going to be a Panther. Then he gets an offer from PSU, visits campus and a week later, he's wearing the blue and white. That alone makes it a great story, but Dieffenbach is a prized recruit at center and will hopefully anchor the PSU o-line in future years. Again, he's not exactly a flashy pick as a "player to watch", but he's an important player and should be a fixture on offense down the road.