For all intents and purposes, I could have penned this back on December 20, 2017; the nation’s first-ever early signing day. On that day, James Franklin and Co. collected National Letter of Intent faxes from 22 of the 23 eventual signees of the Class of 2018. Highly regarded offensive tackle, Rasheed Walker, added his name to the mix on Wednesday, the traditional Signing Day, picking PSU over the Buckeyes. Other than that welcome addition, the day flew by with little of the usual fanfare we’ve become accustomed to since FrankLion took over. As Mother Nature unleashed her own version of the WHITEOUT in Happy Valley, Penn State Football wrapped up its nationally ranked Top 5 WE ARE ’18 Class with a tidy little bow and a final shot at OSU’s hold atop the Big Ten.
Six of our newest commits have been on campus since January as early enrollees and are already grinding the winter away with the rest of their squad, including this year’s most heralded and highest ranked commit to Penn State since Derrick Williams in 2005, Harrisburg’s Micah Parsons. Parsons is expected to compete this year for the open Mike linebacker spot vacated by fan-favorite Jason Cabinda. Also on campus are linebackers Jesse Luketa and Nick Tarburton; one of the nations top-ranked tight ends, Camp Hill’s Zach Kuntz; and two Texans, cornerback Trent Gordon and safety Isaiah Humphries, a legacy commit whose dad Leonard played under JoePa in the late ‘90s.
Offensively, the Nittany Lions added two 5-star weapons to their arsenal in All-American receiver Justin Shorter from New Jersey and Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year, running back Ricky Slade. Nazareth PA wideout Jahan Dotson flipped from UCLA to Penn State on December 20th, while receiver Daniel George (Oxon Hill, MD), tight end Pat Freiermuth (North Andover, Mass) and quarterback Will Levis (Xavier, Conn) round out the skill position additions. Joining Walker as O-Line commits are Virginia’s Nana Asidieu, Erie, Pennsylvania’s Juice Scruggs, and Bryce Effner (Aurora, Ill).
Defensively, the WildDogs added trouble for opposing quarterbacks in D-Linemen Jayson Oweh (Blairstown, NJ), PJ Mustifer (Owings Mills, MD), Aeneas Hawkins (Cincinnati, OH), and Judge Culpeper (Tampa, FL), son of longtime Minnesota Viking, Brad Culpeper. Cornerback and Florida speedster Jordan Minor and Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania linebacker, Charlie Katshir, round out the defensive newcomers. Last, but not least, Iowa kickoff specialist Jake Pinegar completes the highly regarded Class of 2018.
On paper, James Franklin knocked this one out of the park, despite the coaching changes and movement on his staff at the season’s end. The WE ARE ’18 Class of Nittany Lion commits represent the highest ranked class since 2005 and one of the best in our storied history. Since his hire in January of 2014, Franklin has steadily chipped away at the Buckeyes (whose class finished 2nd nationally) grip on Big Ten recruiting and is already hard at work piecing together another stellar class for next February. He came to Happy Valley and immediately declared his intent to ‘Dominate the State,’ but by the looks of this class, FrankLion has taken dead aim at dominating the entire nation.