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Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Looking ahead to the 2014 class

By Josh Moyer

With signing day just three weeks away and Penn State's 2013 class almost in the books, NittanyNation takes an early look at the next recruiting class and what to keep an eye on.

Because of the sanctions, Penn State will be allowed just 65 scholarships for the 2014 season. As a result, the next recruiting class will likely consist of about a dozen commits.

Here's a breakdown of each position:

QUARTERBACK

Key target: DeShone Kizer, Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic, ESPN Watch List, 6-foot-5, 208 pounds

Synopsis: Could there be four scholarship quarterbacks on the 2014 team? Probably not, but a lot of that depends on just how Penn State's quarterbacks fare this season. The Nittany Lions have already extended scholarships to Kizer and Clayton Thorson, so that possibility exists. But PSU is likely just recruiting this position as a fallback in case someone unexpectedly transfers or the players at this position struggle. PSU likely doesn't have a chance with Kizer.

RUNNING BACK

Key target: (COMMITTED) Mark Allen, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha, 5-foot-7, 185 pounds

Synopsis: Allen tore his ACL shortly after committing to Penn State, so the staff could end up taking two running backs in this class. Dravon Henry received an offer around Christmas, so it's clear the Nittany Lions might not be finished. Still, there's a lot of youth at this position and Penn State would be just fine if it decided to stick with just one player here.

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT END

Key target: De'Andre Thompkins, Swansboro (N.C.), 6-foot, 170 pounds

Synopsis: There's a lot of youth and depth at this position, so it doesn't appear as if the Nittany Lions need to take more than one player here. Counting 2013 commit DaeSean Hamilton, there'll be at least six wideouts with three-or-more years of eligibility. If PSU can't get an elite player here, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see it pass. (And the Lions definitely don't need another TE in this class.) PSU is a strong contender for Thompkins, but he could end up heading elsewhere if he gets a nice SEC offer. His high school coach is pushing for Penn State, however.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Key target: Quenton Nelson, Red Bank (N.J.) Red Bank Catholic, 6-foot-5, 285 pounds

Synopsis: The most likely course of action here would be to see some combination of three or four offensive linemen taken. The staff appears to be focusing more on offensive tackles right now, and that makes sense since there'll be just four OTs on the 2014 roster. (Five if guard/tackle Anthony Alosi is included). PSU has a good shot at Nelson, and it has a few other tackles waiting in the wings such as Mike Grimm, Alex Bars and James McHale.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Key target: Andrew Brown, Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Frommel Smith, ESPN Watch List, 6-foot-4, 285 pounds

Synopsis: It's a little difficult to get a read on what PSU might do here, only because every defensive lineman that Penn State's offered hasn't shown a lot of interest. Bryson Allen-Williams, Da'Shawn Hand, and Jalyn Holmes released their favorites -- and PSU didn't make the cut. Lorenzo Carter and Brown are also long-shots. PSU hasn't offered a new lineman for a while, but it does already have three rising redshirt freshman DTs and two incoming defensive ends. PSU will likely pick up at least one player here on the line, but it would be a surprise to see them take more than two.

Montae Nicholson
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway Watch List safety Montae Nicholson has visited Penn State already.
LINEBACKERS

Key target: Troy Reeder, Wilmington (Del.) Salesianum, 6-foot-3, 232 pounds

Synopsis: If there's one position Penn State fans don't have to worry about when it comes to recruiting, it's this one. And it could earn some commits here sooner than later. Reeder is highly interested in PSU and wants to make a decision by the early summer, while Kyle Berger wants to commit somewhere by April. Penn State might take two linebackers in this class, and there's already a good mix of talent and youth at this position.

SECONDARY

Key target: Troy Vincent Jr., Baltimore (Md.) Gilman, ESPN Watch List, 5-foot-10, 180 pounds

Synopsis: Here's where you'll likely see a majority of Penn State's commits. New defensive coordinator John Butler seemed frustrated during the season when he talked about the lack of depth here, and those issues didn't just go away with several additions in the 2013 class. Penn State needs one more class here to shore up the position, and it could take another four players here. Several big-name recruits -- such as Vincent Jr., D'Andre Payne and Montae Nicholson -- have already been on campus. And with Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong set to graduate after next season, there'll definitely be some need.