Penn State Football: Predicting Success of Bill O'Brien's First Recruiting Class

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Penn State Football: Predicting Success of Bill O'Brien's First Recruiting Class
Steven Bench could develop in to a quality addition for Penn State. Photo: Rivals.com

Success is defined by New Oxford Dictionary as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

By that definition we must ask what exactly is the aim or purpose of Bill O'Brien's first recruiting class at Penn State?

If the purpose is to establish some decent depth and develop some role players, then it would appear that there is a great chance for success for the Class of 2012. While there are some players with potential to do some very good things in the next few years, including wide receiver Eugene Lewis, running back Akeel Lynch, defensive end Brent Wilkerson and defensive tackle Jamil Pollard, nobody on the roster is expected to be a true great player before they leave the program.

Is there potential to develop these players in to big-name starters? Absolutely.

If Lewis can pick up the plays early and work his way on the field and prove he has good hands he could be a steady force in the passing game. Lynch has potential to be a solid running back and could even see some early playing time behind Silas Redd, but nobody is expecting him to be a guy who will carry the load for 1,750 yards and 18 touchdowns. The prospects may be higher for Pollard and Wilkerson under the coaching of Larry Johnson Sr.

But the remainder of the Class of 2012 for Penn State looks to be more about adding some depth and support. The loss of some potential players in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal caused some to change their minds about playing at Penn State, which gave many critics a chance to say that Penn State's recruiting class this year was doomed no matter what. Despite the lack of stars, Penn State's Class of 2012 should not be written off for what they can contribute to the football program in coming years.

Quarterback Steven Bench gave Penn State a footing in the south. The Georgia native was picked up by Penn State following the coaching changes and proved that O'Brien's efforts to move recruiting trails to the south were already in operation.

The three-star 6'3," 205 pound quarterback may develop to be a starter some day, but many are already looking to Class of 2013 verbal commit Christian Hackenberg to be groomed to be a starter. Regardless of whether Bench starts for one year or two (or none,) his contributions have already been considered a success for Penn State as the Nittany Lions proved they can recruit in the territory that typically belongs to the SEC and ACC.

Of course, critics will be quick to point out that Bench was still available when Penn State came along, so how much should be hailed for the move? It is a fair point, but perhaps that stems back to an argument over recruiting stars and rankings.

Success is what you define it to be. For Penn State, success will come with continuing to develop character football players who do well on the field just as such as they do in the class rooms. When it comes to football, the Class of 2012 should be considered a wild card with potential to surprise.

Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast, managing editor of Nittany Lions Den and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook and add him to your Google+ circle.

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