Penn State Football: Grading the Nittany Lions' 2013 Recruiting Class

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIFebruary 6, 2013

January 4, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Highlight quarterback Christian Hackenberg (1) drops out of the pocket during the second half at the Under Armour All-America high school Game at Tropicana Field. Team Highlight defeated the Team Nitro 16-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With National Signing Day complete for the Nittany Lions, it's time to review and assign a grade to the 2013 class. Penn State finished the tough recruiting year with a solid crop of freshmen, many of whom will see the field next season. The Nittany Lions' class is ranked 24th by ESPN and 43rd by

The class is made up of 17 total recruits: eight on offense and nine on defense.

Despite the fact that Penn State is still banned from post season play for the next three years, top talent still chose to join the Nittany Lions.

The highlight of the class is 5-star quarterback recruit Christian Hackenberg. The pro-style quarterback has the potential to be one of the best in the land. He should be a perfect fit for the NFL-style offense that was implemented at Penn State by head coach Bill O'Brien. He will likely be given a redshirt to have an extra year to develop in the system.

While Hackenberg is the only 5-star recruit of the bunch, there are three freshmen who have earned a 4-star rating from Rivals.comAdam Breneman, Brendan Mahon and Garrett Sickels will all look to make major contributions for the Nittany Lions over the next few years.

Breneman, a Pennsylvania native, is the top tight end recruit. His Recruiting Nation scouting report says,  "He possesses good speed for the tight end position and is capable of being an active part of an offense's passing attack." Breneman will make a great target for Hackenberg.

Mahon is a big lineman who should crack the two-man rotation in 2013. He has the skills to play either guard or tackle. According to his ESPN scouting report:

Mahon is a dominant run blocker who uses his playing strength to consistently knock defenders off the ball. He lines up at both the offensive guard and tackle spots, but we feel his size and athleticism are best suited for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition.

Rounding out the 'big four" of the class is defensive end Garrett Sickels. The New Jersey native had offers from schools such as Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and Georgia, yet he chose the Nittany Lions. Fortunately for Sickels, Penn State has some holes in the depth chart on the defensive line, meaning that he should have an opportunity to get early playing time.

Offensive lineman Andrew Nelson and wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton should also be considered top recruits, as Recruiting Nation differs with Rivals, and ranks them as 4-star freshmen.

Nelson probably won't play right away, but has the potential to turn into a very effective tackle. Hamilton is a talented wide receiver who should see plenty of action in 2013 at both receiver and on special teams.

Aside from the top recruits, the 2013 Penn State class is rounded out by a solid group that will provide depth for years to come, especially in the secondary.

Junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson (3-star) will battle for the starting quarterback job for the upcoming season.

Penn State fans have to be impressed with the class that is coming in. There's no doubt that the NCAA sanctions placed on the school have affected recruiting. Several players changed their mind after learning of the penalties.

In spite of everything, the new crop of talent is very good.

Many surely would have expected the Nittany Lions to drop far in the recruiting rankings. The reality is that that just didn't happen. With all things considered, the coaching staff did an excellent job of building for the future at Penn State.

Recruiting Class Grade: B+

Check out for a complete list of the Penn State 2013 recruiting class.