PSU's impactful recruiting classes: No. 4

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
9:00
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- We've reached Day 2 of this week's countdown, which is ranking Penn State's most-impactful recruiting classes of the past decade.

Up next is the class with big names, bigger surprises and even bigger offensive linemen ...

No. 4 most-impactful class: Class of 2004

[+] EnlargeDan Connor
A. Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesDan Connor won the Bednarik Award at Penn State and was the foundation of one of the Nittany Lions' best LB corps.
Top prospects: OT Gerald Cadogan, LB Dan Connor, DB Tony Davis, DE Josh Gaines, QB Anthony Morelli, WR Jordan Norwood, OG Rich Ohrnberger, WR/S Mark Rubin, LB Tyrell Sales, C A.Q. Shipley

Biggest surprise: Norwood. Most recruiting services didn't even bother to rate him -- Scout.com listed him at one star -- because expectations were so low because of his 5-foot-8, 143-pound frame. He had no other FBS offers, and many believed he only received a scholarship at Penn State because his father was on staff. Still, he proved everyone wrong by making the most out of his talent after a grayshirt season. He was a terrific route-runner who finished with at least 32 catches in four consecutive seasons, and he remains in the record books for career receptions (currently No. 5 on the list with 158 catches). He also had 2,015 yards and 13 touchdowns in his career.

Impact player: Connor. He was a three-year starter who won the Bednarik Award as a senior. He kept the tradition of "Linebacker U" alive and finished his career with the most tackles (334) by a Nittany Lion. He was also part of one of the Lions' most dominant linebacker groups in school history, one that also featured Paul Posluszny and Sean Lee. The Big Ten Network listed him as the conference's fifth-best linebacker from 2000 to 2010.

Why the class is important: This is the class that built Penn State's offensive line. Ohrnberger, Cadogan and Shipley each earned spots on the All-Big Ten team and each became a three-year starter. Shipley was an All-American who earned the Rimington Trophy as a senior.

However, there were plenty of other players in this class who didn't earn national recognition but still contributed greatly to PSU. Davis and Gaines were both solid three-year starters for the Lions. Rubin played 26 games after moving to safety. Sales was a two-year starter at linebacker. And then there was Morelli. The quarterback never quite lived up to lofty expectations, but he still helped lift PSU to victories in the Outback and Alamo bowls.

More impactful recruiting classes:

No. 5: Class of 2011

Josh Moyer | email

Penn State/Big Ten reporter

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