Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor IApril 21, 2014

Penn State Recruiting: Breaking Down the Top 2015 Target at Each Position

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    Penn State football coach James Franklin and his staff are off to a terrific start, as far as the 2015 recruiting class is concerned.

    According to 247Sports, the Nittany Lions have a top five class, and they've sat at the top of the list for a brief period this spring. 

    Of the 12 recruits currently committed to Penn State, nine are rated as 4-star prospects, according to the 247Sports Composite ratings. 

    That being said, it's April and none of the players currently committed can sign their letters of intent until next February. For anyone who has followed recruiting closely in the past, those nine months can be an eternity.

    Here's a look at the top players from each position that Penn State is targeting, whether they're currently committed or not.


    All star ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.


Quarterback: Brandon Wimbush

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    Brandon Wimbush

    Jersey City, N.J.

    6'2", 205 pounds

    4-Star Dual Threat QB

    No. 4 ranked Dual Threat QB


    Wimbush has been to Happy Valley twice since the new staff took over, and Penn State is the favorite to land the third best New Jersey prospect, but he's doing his due diligence with the recruiting process.

    He's recently visited Boston College, Virginia Tech and South Carolina, but Ohio State could be PSU's top competition if it decides to apply more pressure on him. 

    Though they aren't complaining about inheriting Christian Hackenberg, the new staff would like to transition to a mobile quarterback in the future, and Wimbush is the best in the region, as well as one of the best in the country.


    Other Possibilities 

    No other serious contenders exist. The staff may not take a QB in this class if they can't have Wimbush.

Running Back: Andre Robinson

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    Andre Robinson

    Harrisburg, Pa.

    5'9", 205 pounds

    4-Star RB

    No. 4 ranked prospect in Pennsylvania


    Robinson committed to Penn State shortly after attending its Junior Day event, and it looks like he's in it for the long haul.

    The new "A-Rob" is built for the next level and possesses every attribute necessary for success, aside from elite speed.

    After amassing over 2,500 total yards and 30 combined touchdowns as a junior, Robinson committed to Penn State over offers from Ohio State, Pitt, Michigan State and Rutgers, among others.


    Other Options

    With commitments from Robinson and Saquon Barkley, Franklin has two top in-state running back prospects locked up and is done recruiting the position.


Wide Receiver: Juwan Johnson

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    Juwan Johnson 

    Glassboro, N.J.

    6'4", 200 pounds

    4-Star WR

    No. 12 ranked wide receiver


    After receiving offers from Ohio State, Alabama and Michigan State in a one-month span, Johnson visited Penn State and gave Franklin his pledge on the spot.

    Blessed with elite size and speed, Johnson is a coveted prospect, and several of the teams interested in him will continue recruiting him down to the wire, but he doesn't seem phased and was back on campus for the Blue-White game.

    With Johnson and Brandon Polk in tow, it looks like the Nittany Lions will end up with another stellar haul at the wide receiver position.


    Other Options

    Franklin would likely be willing to take a third receiver in this class, provided it is the right player. Keep an eye on Irvin Charles and Van Jefferson as the process progresses.

Offensive Line: Sterling Jenkins

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    Sterling Jenkins

    Pittsburgh, Pa.

    6'8", 305 pounds

    4-Star OT

    No. 6 ranked offensive tackle


    It lines up well for Franklin that the top rated prospect in Pennsylvania just happens to play a position of need for the Nittany Lions and has Penn State at or near the top of his list.

    He's a raw prospect at this point, but once Jenkins refines his technique and balance, he'll be an NFL-caliber player at the next level.

    Penn State is considered the favorite according to 247Sports, but the Buckeyes are in the mix, and Urban Meyer can never be counted out.


    Other Options

    Having already landed commitments from Steven Gonzalez (OG) and Ryan Bates (OG/OT), Franklin and Co. are probably looking for a couple true tackles and maybe one more versatile prospect. Grant Newsome and Austin Clark are the best bets right now, while Matthew Burrell and Isaiah Prince are also still in the mix.

Defensive Line: Tim Settle

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    Tim Settle

    Manassas, Va.

    6'3", 318 pounds

    5-Star DT

    No. 19 ranked overall prospect


    A few weeks ago, Adam McLean may have been Penn State's most coveted defensive line prospect, but since he committed the morning of the spring game, why not dream big?

    Wherever he plays, Settle will step on campus with the strength and size of a true 1-technique tackle.

    As is the case with most 5-star prospects, Settle can pretty much choose where he attends school. He has Alabama, Ohio State and Virginia in his top three, but he's still taking visits and was in Happy Valley in early April.


    Other Options

    Five-star tackle Trent Thompson is considering the Nittany Lions, but he will be hard to pull out of Georgia and is even less likely to commit than Settle. Ends Ryan Buchholz and Kamonte Carter are in the fold and should close out recruiting at that position.

Linebacker: Jerome Baker

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    Jerome Baker

    Cleveland, Ohio

    6'1", 205 pounds

    4-Star ATH

    No. 2 ranked prospect in Ohio


    It looked like a two-horse race between Penn State and Ohio State just a few weeks ago, but the Nittany Lions may have some catching up to do as Florida and Tennessee are now in the thick of things.

    Baker could start his college career as a safety or DB/LB hybrid, but he'll likely grow into a true outside linebacker.


    Other Options

    The staff already has pledges from Jake Cooper and Josh Barajas, but they are also in the mix for Manny Bowen and Darrin Kirkland Jr.

Cornerback: John Reid and Jordan Whitehead

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    John Reid

    Philadelphia, Pa.

    5'10", 180 pounds

    4-Star CB

    No. 2 ranked prospect in Pennsylvania


    Jordan Whitehead

    Monaca, Pa.

    6'0", 180 pounds

    4-Star CB

    No. 5 ranked prospect in Pennsylvania


    With a little luck, Franklin and the Nittany Lions will land the top two in-state corners. Both are extremely talented and rank among the top 20 corners in the nation.

    Both players have Penn State high on their radars and are key prospects in Franklin's attempt to "dominate the state."

    If the Nittany Lions' secondary of the future includes Reid and Whitehead on the outside, the future is bright for Penn State.


    Other Options

    After last year's haul, the staff is comfortable taking just one corner if that's the way it plays out, and they've put all their eggs in the baskets of Reid and Whitehead. 

Safety: Ayron Monroe

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    Ayron Monroe

    Washington, D.C.

    6'0", 195 pounds

    3-Star Safety

    No. 10 ranked prospect in the D.C. area.


    The rangy safety has visited Penn State three times in 2014 and still found time to run a 4.45 second 40-yard dash at the New Jersey Nike SPARQ combine in February.

    When it's all over, Monroe will likely get a bump in ratings, and he could be yet another 4-star player in Penn State's 2015 recruiting class.

    It looks like Penn State is the leader, but the Nittany Lions will have to fight off Maryland down the stretch to secure Monroe's talent.


    Other Options

    With Jarvis Miller in the fold, Penn State isn't pursuing many safeties at this time. However, in-state running back Josh Adams could be converted to safety if he really wants to join this class.