Penn State Football Recruiting: 5 Commits Who Will Contribute in 2014

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor IDecember 6, 2013

Penn State Football Recruiting: 5 Commits Who Will Contribute in 2014

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    Following the NCAA's sanctioning of Penn State in July 2011, the Nittany Lions were handcuffed when it came to recruiting. Bill O'Brien was facing multiple years of only being able to give out 15 scholarships per year, while other teams recruit up to (and occasionally more than) 25 high school prospects each cycle.

    This past September, the NCAA had a change of heart and lessened those sanctions, particularly in the area of scholarship reductions.

    As a result, Penn State will be able to take on 23 new scholarship athletes on this cycle's national signing day in February, including a handful of early enrollees—players who will begin their collegiate careers in January.

    According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions currently have 16 verbal commitments and possess the 26th best class in the country.

    After 13 true freshmen saw action in 2013, it's likely that a number of this year's recruits will also have the chance to make a splash in their first year on campus. 

    Let's take a look at the five current commits most likely to contribute in 2014. 

5. LB Troy Reeder

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    Troy Reeder

    Wilmington, DE

    247Sports Rating: 3 stars

    Rivals Rating: 3 stars


    Before committing to play football at Penn State, Troy Reeder was a North Carolina lacrosse commit and also played quarterback.

    At 6'2" and 230 pounds, his size, speed and athleticism could provide an immediate spark for Penn State's thin linebacker corps.

    Given his size, many suspect he could cement himself as the backup middle linebacker, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him at any of the linebacker positions.

    At the very least, Reeder will be a guy you immediately see on the kickoff and punt teams, where he will certainly make a difference. 

4. CB Troy Vincent Jr.

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    Troy Vincent Jr.

    Baltimore, MD

    247Sports Rating: 3 stars

    Rivals Rating: 3 stars


    Penn State is in need of secondary help, and that will come this offseason in the form of Troy Vincent Jr.

    The son of former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent, one would expect the 5'10", 185-pounder to be technically sound and disciplined. Vincent could be the complement to Jordan Lucas that defensive coordinator John Butler is looking for.

    Much like Reeder, you can rest assured that even if Vincent only sees the field as the nickelback, he will be an instant addition to the special teams units. 

3. WR Chris Godwin

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    Chris Godwin

    Middleton, DE

    247Sports Rating: 4 stars

    Rivals Rating: 4 stars


    Arguably Penn State's most coveted recruit, Chris Godwin committed to the Nittany Lions over offers from the likes of South Carolina, Stanford and Ohio State.

    A true wide receiver, Godwin hauled in 42 catches for over 800 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior to go along with 427 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

    With Brandon Felder graduating and Allen Robinson likely moving on to the NFL, the Penn State wide receiver depth chart is going to be open for competition.

    While receiver is often a position that requires a lengthy transition period, the 6'2", 195-pounder possesses all the right tools. Under the watchful eye of Stan Hixon, Godwin's learning curve should be much shorter than most freshmen in his shoes.

    Though he may not make an immediate impact, look for the Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year to make a splash down the stretch and be an integral piece of this offense going forward. 

2. WR/KR DeAndre Thompkins

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    DeAndre Thompkins

    Swansboro, NC

    247Sports Rating: 4 stars

    Rivals Rating: 4 stars


    After rushing for 1,000 yards in both his sophomore and junior seasons, Thompkins focused more on playing wide receiver as a senior. Despite drawing double and triple coverage all year, the 6'0", 170-pound star totaled 28 catches for four touchdowns to go along with 8.52 yards per carry and nine touchdowns on the ground, according to MaxPreps.

    After enrolling this January, his initial contribution to the Nittany Lions will most likely be on special teams. DeAndre runs a legit 4.46 40-yard dash and returned seven kicks for touchdowns over the last two years before teams simply stopped kicking to him.

    A Penn State special teams unit that saw zero combined touchdowns from the punt return and kick return units could use the speed and vision that a kid like Thompkins possesses. Don't be surprised if he fields the opening kick next season in Ireland. 

1. DT Tarow Barney

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    Tarow Barney

    Senatiobia, MS

    247Sports Rating: 4 stars

    Rivals Rating: N/A


    A junior college prospect from Northwest Mississippi Community College, Tarow Barney may be the only player on this list with a realistic shot at not only contributing, but starting in his first year at Penn State.

    With DaQuan Jones headed to the NFL and Kyle Baublitz graduating and moving on from Penn State, the Nittany Lions will be looking for players to step up on the defensive line. 

    The 6'3", 285-pounder could be just what the doctor ordered.

    Hindered by asthma as a kid, Barney was unable to play football in high school until his senior season and thus didn't attract much attention from big programs.

    After showcasing his talent at the JUCO level, Barney held offers from Iowa State, Illinois, Arizona State and others before choosing Penn State. 

The Best of the Rest

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    While these five players will almost certainly see the field, they will not be the only ones.

    Guys like safety Marcus Allen and linebacker Jason Cabinda could be immediate upgrades on special teams, while tight end Mike Gesicki has a ton of potential but is going to be in a battle for game time.

    It's obvious that the Nittany Lions staff wanted to get more athletic and faster at the skill positions, and they've done just that. 

    On January 2, quarterback Michael O'Connor, Godwin and Thompkins will team up in the Under Armour All-American Game, in what could be somewhat of a preview for Penn State. Thompkins and O'Connor will be enrolling following that trip.