Meet Penn State’s 2018 football recruiting class

December 20th, 2017 11:33 pm - updated: 11:36 pm.

Nana Asiedu ★★★★ Position: Offensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5, 275 pounds Hometown: Stafford, Va. High school: North Stafford Nation: #8 OT | #97 ovr. State: #1 OT | #3 ovr. Chose PSU over: Clemson, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia The skinny: U.S. Army All-American. Coveted for his size and athleticism, many had him pegged for the defending national champs, but a visit to Happy Valley won him over, and he committed over Blue-White weekend. Standout basketball player who has been bulking up after choosing football, giving him a high ceiling. • Judge Culpepper ★★★ Position: Defensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-4, 275 pounds Hometown: Tampa, Fla. High school: H.B. Plant Nation: #20 SDE | #466 ovr. State: #7 DE | #82 ovr. Chose PSU over: Florida, LSU, Michigan, Alabama The skinny: Son of former nine-year NFL defensive line veteran Brad Culpepper, who played mostly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he turned down dad’s alma mater, Florida, to pick Penn State. Athletic enough to play tight end but has a frame that compares to current Lion Ryan Buchholz, allowing him to play at end or tackle. • Jahan Dotson ★★★★ Position: Wide receiver Ht./Wt.: 5-foot-11, 170 pounds Hometown: Nazareth, Pa. High school: Nazareth Area Nation: #35 WR | #185 ovr. State: #1 WR | #5 ovr. Chose PSU over: UCLA, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State The skinny: A late surprise, the coaching change out at UCLA made him rethink his verbal commitment there. After initially saying he would wait until February to sign, a late push by the Lions was enough to land the state’s top wideout on Wednesday. Scored 19 total touchdowns as a senior as he caught 62 passes for 889 yards. • Bryce Effner ★★★ Position: Offensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5, 280 pounds Hometown: Aurora, Ill. High school: Metea Valley Nation: #48 OT | #612 ovr. State: #1 OT | #8 ovr. Chose PSU over: Duke, North Carolina, Maryland, Minnesota The skinny: A product of offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne’s connections in the Midwest landed the Lions a commitment from Illinois or Indiana for the fifth straight signing class. Like Penn State’s other offensive line recruits in this class, his defining characteristic is his mobility. Big enough to play tackle but could slot in anywhere. • Pat Freiermuth ★★★★ Position: Tight end Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5, 250 pounds Hometown: Merrimac, Mass. High school: Brooks School Nation: #8 TE | #215 ovr. State: #1 TE | #1 ovr. Chose PSU over: Notre Dame, Ohio State, LSU, Boston College The skinny: The top-rated player in Massachusetts could have a big opportunity when he arrives next summer as Penn State’s tight end spot will be an open competition, and classmate Zack Kuntz may need more time to fill out. Lions secured his commitment early, helping them fend off schools like Notre Dame later on. • Daniel George ★★★★ Position: Wide receiver Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds Hometown: Fort Washington, Md. High school: Oxon Hill Nation: #44 WR | #256 ovr. State: #1 WR | #8 ovr. Chose PSU over: Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, Wisconsin The skinny: Strong all-around receiver who has a nose for the end zone, having scored a whopping 31 touchdowns in his last two seasons at Oxon Hill. Maryland’s top-rated wideout closed out a big run of five commitments off of the Lions’ annual Lasch Bash event in July. Known for his explosiveness rather than top-end speed. • Trent Gordon ★★★ Position: Defensive back Ht./Wt.: 6-foot, 180 pounds Hometown: Spring, Texas High school: Manvel Nation: #38 CB | #391 ovr. State: #4 CB | #48 ovr. Chose PSU over: Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA The skinny: Will enroll in January. A safety in high school, projects more as a cornerback in college. Well-regarded prospect for a state title contender playing against some of Texas’ top competition. His spring commitment was a sign of the Lions’ increased efforts in the Lone Star State, where they hope to build a pipeline. • Aeneas Hawkins ★★★ Position: Defensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 280 pounds Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio High school: Moeller Nation: #30 DT | #429 ovr. State: #1 DT | #16 ovr. Chose PSU over: Cincinnati, Ohio State, Alabama, USC The skinny: NFL bloodlines include father Artrell Hawkins, a long-time cornerback, and uncle Andrew Hawkins, a wide receiver. A stress fracture in his foot kept him in a walking boot for much of his senior season, dropping his ranking a bit, but successful programs from across the country wanted to add his athleticism and intangibles. • Isaiah Humphries ★★★ Position: Defensive back Ht./Wt.: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds Hometown: Rowlett, Texas High school: Sachse Nation: #36 S | #502 ovr. State: #8 S | #67 ovr. Chose PSU over: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oregon The skinny: Will enroll in January. Son of former Penn State standout cornerback Leonard Humphries. The lone projected safety in the class after legal issues forced the Lions to drop Philadelphia’s Isheem Young. Family ties helped open the door, but a visit to campus sealed the deal despite interest from school closer to home. • Charlie Katshir ★★★ Position: Linebacker Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds Hometown: Camp Hill, Pa. High school: Cumberland Valley Nation: #35 OLB | #520 ovr. State: #4 LB | #19 ovr. Chose PSU over: Boston College, Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia The skinny: Primarily a safety at Cumberland Valley, projects as an outside linebacker who can play in space and excel in coverage. One of the state’s most versatile players who also handled receiving, punting, kicking and return duties. Likely headed for a redshirt to add to his frame and recover from a shoulder injury. • Zack Kuntz ★★★★ Position: Tight end Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-7, 235 pounds Hometown: Camp Hill, Pa. High school: Camp Hill Nation: #4 TE | #119 ovr. State: #1 TE | #3 ovr. Chose PSU over: Stanford, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State The skinny: Will enroll in January. All-state selection who also excels in basketball and track. His resume, along with his size, has drawn some comparisons to Mike Gesicki, as he caught 40 passes for 1,057 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, highlighted by a monster 303-yard game with three scores in November. • Will Levis ★★★ Position: Quarterback Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Hometown: Madison, Conn. High school: Xavier Nation: #25 pro QB | #628 ovr. State: #1 QB | #2 ovr. Chose PSU over: Iowa, Florida State, Ole Miss, Syracuse The skinny: Late bloomer who saw his stock rise greatly heading into his senior year, as he went from campus to campus to work out in person for several major schools, earning scholarships from nearly all of them, including the Lions. A mobile but pass-first prospect who topped 2,700 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior. • Jesse Luketa ★★★★ Position: Linebacker Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 240 pounds Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario High school: Mercyhurst Prep (Pa.) Nation: #9 ILB | #237 ovr. State: #1 LB | #10 ovr. Chose PSU over: Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, Stanford The skinny: Will enroll in January, which is very good news for the Lions given their depth issues with box linebackers that will come to a head in 2018. Canadian import who was coveted from schools coast to coast while playing in Erie. Strong, instinctual tackler who happens to be one of the most vocal leaders in the class. • Jordan Miner ★★★ Position: Defensive back Ht./Wt.: 6-foot, 180 pounds Hometown: Wesley Chapel, Fla. High school: Wiregrass Ranch Nation: #36 CB | #374 ovr. State: #14 CB | #66 ovr. Chose PSU over: Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee The skinny: Some dramatic coaching turnover down in Florida led to some questions late in the process as to whether Miner would stay near home. Between his height and nose for the ball, reminds of another Tampa-area corner in Amani Oruwariye. Played all over the field on offense, defense and special teams. • P.J. Mustipher ★★★★ Position: Defensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-4, 300 pounds Hometown: Owings Mills, Md. High school: McDonogh Nation: #6 DT | #111 ovr. State: #2 DT | #5 ovr. Chose PSU over: Notre Dame, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State The skinny: Under Armour All-American. Coaches love him for more than his work on the football field, as he also is a state champion wrestler, a prized skill for defensive linemen. Projects as a tackle all the way and his dozens of offers from around the country suggest that many schools think he can anchor a line himself. • Micah Parsons ★★★★★ Position: Athlete Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 245 pounds Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa. High school: Harrisburg Nation: #1 WDE | #4 ovr. State: #1 DE | #1 ovr. Chose PSU over: Oklahoma, Georgia, Nebraska, Alabama The skinny: U.S. Army All-American. Polynesian Bowl All-American. Will enroll in January. The highest-rated recruit in the James Franklin era and Penn State’s highest since Derrick Williams in the 2005 class. Decommitted and circled back to sign with the Lions. Will open spring practice at middle linebacker but could move to defensive end. • Jake Pinegar ★★★ Position: Kicker Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-2, 195 pounds Hometown: Ankeny, Iowa High school: Ankeny Centennial Nation: #9 PK | #1,765 ovr. State: #1 PK | #8 ovr. Chose PSU over: Indiana, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green The skinny: Penn State badly needs a kicker with the impending graduation of Tyler Davis and transfer of Alex Barbir. Will join a competition with a handful of returnees, including Carson Landis, Nick DeAngelis, incoming walk-on Rafael Checa and possibly punter Blake Gillikin. Lions like his leg strength and his athleticism. • Juice Scruggs ★★★★ Position: Offensive lineman Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 270 pounds Hometown: Erie, Pa. High school: Cathedral Prep Nation: #4 C | #233 ovr. State: #1 C | #9 ovr. Chose PSU over: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, LSU The skinny: Originally from Ohio, played his football in Erie, leading Cathedral Prep to back-to-back Class 4A state championships. Two-time all-state selection who played tackle but will likely be at center or guard for the Lions. Regardless, he checks in as the highest-rated offensive lineman in Pennsylvania. • Justin Shorter ★★★★★ Position: Wide receiver Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-4, 220 pounds Hometown: Monmouth Junction, N.J. High school: South Brunswick Nation: #3 WR | #15 ovr. State: #1 WR | #1 ovr. Chose PSU over: Michigan, Miami, Virginia Tech, Rutgers The skinny: Under Armour All-American. Some recruiting services have New Jersey’s top prospect rated as the nation’s best wideout thanks to his size, speed, leaping ability and overall talent. Scored 15 total touchdowns as a senior, finding the end zone in all but one game despite playing in a run-heavy option offense. • Ricky Slade ★★★★★ Position: Running back Ht./Wt.: 5-foot-9, 185 pounds Hometown: Woodbridge, Va. High school: C.D. Hylton Nation: #2 APB | #24 ovr. State: #1 RB | #1 ovr. Chose PSU over: Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, North Carolina The skinny: Under Armour All-American. Gatorade Player of the Year for Virginia. Fell just short of 2,000 yards rushing as a senior and scored 35 touchdowns, adding 22 receptions. Speed and shiftiness are what he’s best known for, but at 5-foot-9 he can still run between the tackles and serve as an every-down back. May play in 2018. • Nick Tarburton ★★★★ Position: Linebacker Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-3, 250 pounds Hometown: Green Lane, Pa. High school: Pennridge Nation: #11 ILB | #261 ovr. State: #2 LB | #11 ovr. Chose PSU over: Michigan State, Pitt, Maryland, Syracuse The skinny: Will enroll in January. PIAA Class 6A all-state selection. Hailing from a family of Nittany Lions fans, it was little surprise this recruitment ended early. An edge rusher in high school, he has the frame to grow into a defensive lineman down the road depending on how Penn State’s linebacker situation ends up shaking out.

— Compiled by Derek Levarse

Nana Asiedu Asiedu
Judge Culpepper Culpepper
Jahan Dotson Dotson
Bryce Effner Effner
Pat Freiermuth Freiermuth
Daniel George George
Trent Gordon Gordon
Aeneas Hawkins Hawkins
Isaiah Humphries Humphries
Charlie Katshir Katshir
Zack Kuntz Kuntz
Will Levis Levis
Jesse Luketa Luketa
Jordan Miner Miner
P.J. Mustipher Mustipher
Micah Parsons Parsons
Jake Pinegar Pinegar
Juice Scruggs Scruggs
Justin Shorter Shorter
Ricky Slade Slade
Nick Tarburton Tarburton
  All rankings represent the 247Sports Composite, which factors in ratings from three major recruiting services: 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN.