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Thursday, January 24, 2013
Penn State Class of 2009 review

By Josh Moyer

Experts, fans and pundits will analyze every angle of the 2013 recruiting class in the coming weeks, but there will be no certainties there. There never are in recruiting.

For every elite prospect who falls short, there's an Allen Robinson -- an under-the-radar, two-star prospect who exceeds all expectations. The only true way to gauge the success of a recruiting class is in hindsight, by simply waiting.

So, as part of a RecruitingNation-wide series, NittanyNation took a closer look at PSU's Class of 2009. Some fifth-year seniors will have one more chance to show what they have on the field next fall. But, at this point, it's pretty safe to judge whether the class was a bust or not.

Commits: 26 (One was released from his LOI because he was denied admission.)

Number of players in the ESPN 300: 1

Gerald Hodges
LB Gerald Hodges is among the contributors who keep the Class of 2009 from being labeled a bust.
Top-rated prospects: OT Eric Shrive (Grade: 82), QB Kevin Newsome (Grade: 80), LB Gerald Hodges (Grade: 80), K Anthony Fera (Grade: 80).

View of the class at the time: This was looked upon as a solid class, a group that ESPN ranked No. 16 in the country. Joe Paterno still had it, ESPN wrote, and the only knock was that the players here weren't all that flashy. There weren't many premiere players but, instead, a solid core of four-star and upper-level three star guys who should ensure PSU remained a top-25 team. Only Shrive was a member of the ESPN 300, but 18 players were graded 76 or higher.

Looking back now: This recruiting class is a mixed bag. Newsome never panned out, and seven players transferred. But this class still contributed more than a dozen players who started at one time or another -- guys like Hodges, Glenn Carson, Jordan Hill and John Urschel --- and another four who saw significant time as backups last season, like Adam Gress and Ty Howle. (Those two could start this season.)

It wouldn't be fair to label this entire class a bust, then. But the most-hyped prospects here certainly fell short of expectations. Of Penn State's 10 top-rated recruits, only two really made a big impact -- Hodges and Carson. One could argue Brown and Fera were solid contributors, but Fera played just two seasons and Brown transferred when he was in line to become the offense's top target. He left when he was needed most.

Somewhat ironically, the best production might have come from the virtual unknowns. Urschel -- unrated by ESPN -- became an All-Big Ten selection, while ESPN 150 OT Shrive was relegated to backup duties. Unrated WR Brandon Moseby-Felder was one of the least talked-about recruits, but he took over for (and outplayed) Shawney Kersey, who was graded a 78. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was also unrated, but he obviously will have a better PSU career than highly touted DB Derrick Thomas, who left the team last year for "personal reasons."

Looking back, this group doesn't belong as one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. It was good, but not great. Still, this class ultimately was saved by the recruits few other colleges wanted. It was defined by finding diamonds in the rough and grabbing enough under-the-radar players who exceeded expectations to save it from "bust" status.

Best players from this class: LB Hodges, WR Brown, K Fera, LB Carson, DE Sean Stanley, CB Stephon Morris, DT Hill, S Malcolm Willis, S Obeng-Agyapong, WR Moseby-Felder, TE Garry Gilliam, OG Urschel.

Biggest misses of this class: QB Newsome, OT Shrive, WR Kersey, OT Mark Acidiacono, RB Dukes, OG Frank Figueroa.