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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Overview of Penn State's Class of 2013

By Josh Moyer

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- With Penn State's fax machine whirring early Wednesday morning, NittanyNation takes an overall look at the expected recruiting class.

From top players to sleepers, misses and everything in-between, there's a lot going on in this class:

Who they got: Penn State looks as if it will sign 17 players this class, including the five who have already enrolled. The headliners are ESPN's No. 1 QB in Christian Hackenberg and No. 1 TE in Adam Breneman, who have helped bring the same kind of excitement to this class as Derrick Williams and Justin King in 2005. Penn State turned in a quality offensive group, with four-star prospects also at offensive guard (Brendan Mahon), offensive tackle (Andrew Nelson) and wideout (DaeSean Hamilton).

Defensive end Garrett Sickels is the big name on the defensive side of the ball, and PSU's hoping it can grab some gems with the eight other defensive pickups who are rated as two- and three-star prospects.

Adam Breneman
Four-star tight end Adam Breneman, along with QB Christian Hackenberg, are the ringleaders of PSU's class.
Future impact: Hackenberg will battle for a starting job, but the likely course here is to redshirt him and then stand back and watch him live up to his potential. He has all the tools and could very well rewrite Penn State's record books. Breneman is already aiming for a Mackey Award, and the players in this class are intent on bringing PSU through the sanctions. This is the first class that signed with the knowledge of those bowl bans and scholarship reductions, so a lot of players here could be pushed into service sooner than later. Many will contribute significantly as underclassmen. Call them the Supa Seventeen?

Who they missed: OT Dorian Johnson, the No. 2 OT in the country, decommitted and headed to Pittsburgh because of the sanctions. DT Greg Webb, No. 159 in the ESPN 300, also decommitted for UNC and four-star CB Ross Douglas left for Michigan. Those were the biggest decommits.

WR Tyler Boyd and RB David Williams also likely would've chosen PSU if not for the sanctions.

What it means: If not for the sanctions, PSU could've posted a top-5 recruiting class. It's obviously assembled a superb class, but Penn State really had a shot at posting an elite class as opposed to a great one. Time will tell to see if some switches -- Parker Cothren instead of Webb, for example -- end up being pleasant surprises in the end for PSU.

Sleepers: Neiko Robinson is a speedy safety who has a lot going for him, and he could very well turn into a three- or four-year starter. Jordan Smith is also a hard worker with a high ceiling, and Cothren has the potential to develop into a premiere DT. Cothren's high school coach said it was basically a push when he battled Alabama commit Grant Hill, the country's top offensive guard, despite Cothren weighing it at roughly 50 pounds lighter than the 320-pound Hill. Who knows where Cothren could be after adding at least 25 pounds to his frame?

Candidates for immediate playing time: As an early enrollee, Tyler Ferguson will instantly compete for the starting QB job. He'll have a head-start on Hackenberg and will likely find himself in a better position to open the season. Jordan Smith and Anthony Smith, also early enrollees, could see time at cornerback since there's limited depth there. If PSU decides to add the nickel to its repertoire this season, one of those two could be a prime candidate for the job. Robinson and Zayd Issah are also very versatile and could contribute early to special teams.