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Friday, February 1, 2013
Lions spotlight: LB Zayd Issah

By Josh Moyer

Every weekday until signing day, NittanyNation will break down a commitment from Penn State’s 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: Linebacker Zayd Issah, Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.

Committed: Dec.9, 2012.

ESPN.com grade: 75. Three-star prospect.

ESPN.com rankings: No. 123 at position (athlete), No. 134 in region, No. 26 in state.

Picked Penn State over: Arizona State, Iowa, Oregon, Pitt, Rutgers and others.

State of the position: Linebacker is a bit in rebuilding mode with the departures of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. But this position never stays down for long at Linebacker U. Mike Hull and Glenn Carson will be the clear starters in 2013, while Nyeem Wartman and Ben Kline will likely compete for the last starting spot. Rising redshirt freshman Gary Wooten is a darkhorse for the job -- and all five linebackers there should see plenty of time on the field.

Pros: "Zayd is a big, physically imposing prospect that has played just about every skill position on offense and doubles as an outside linebacker on defense. ... On defense, Zayd could add at least 25-30 pounds without losing a step or noticeable athleticism. Shows athletic range and raw straight-lined speed for his size attacking on the perimeter. Displays short-area quickness and adequate change-of-direction mobility off the edge. Shows closing burst as a pass rusher. Flashes a quick jump out of his stance and shows a good motor chasing the football." -- ESPN scouting report

Cons: "... May not offer good man-to-man coverage matchups or the ability to turn and run down field versus speedy slots, athletic back and tight ends. His change-of-direction quickness and ability to mirror quicker skill players in space is not a strong area. Zayd is a really good overall athlete, but he is high cut and has limits to his lateral fluidity on both sides of the ball." -- ESPN scouting report

Similar to/potential role: ESPN lists Issah as an athlete for good reason, and that's because this kid can play pretty much anywhere. He could move to safety or the slot, H-back or outside wideout. That versatility should make him a productive special-teams player immediately -- so, in his first season, he might play a role similar to Wartman. Issah's not a lock to redshirt.

Expected impact: 2015. There's a good chance Issah starts in this third year -- or at least becomes the No. 4 'backer. He's too good not to see time on the field before this, but this could be the season he really breaks out. He's nimble and agile, so it would be a surprise if there weren't some Roadrunner-type packages that take advantage of his unique abilities at linebacker. Issah has the potential to move to different spots in the same game and confuse offenses.