It's February in Happy Valley.
Trekking through sub-freezing temperature to get to class is no fun. What's even less fun is listening to all the criticism surrounding the Penn State recruiting machine.
Is there reason to be upset that PSU has yet to recruit a QB this year? Yes. Does that mean it's the end of the world?
Well, if you ask the writers at Laschout.com, then it is the end of the world.
But realistically, there's no reason to panic.
First of all, PSU has a fresh batch of linebackers to terrorize opposing offenses for the next three to four years. Mike Yancich, Michael Zordich, and Michael Mauti are all highly rated players and three of the top five Nittany Lion recruits. Not surprisingly, linebacker was the strongest position in PSU's 2008 class.
Two other highly ranked defensive recruits are Jack Crawford at DE and D'Anton Lynn at safety. Hopefully both of these guys can help bolster a Penn State pass defense that was inept at points in the 2007 campaign.
A strong pass defense would be swell, because PSU's army of linebackers should ensure an impenetrable rush defense for years to come.
Helping out in both rush and pass defense will be massive DTs James Terry and Brandon Ware, listed at 294 and 340 lbs., respectively. These guys don't have the best ratings (two stars each on rivals.com), but PSU could use the help, considering DT Chris Baker is unlikely to return to the team next year.
Pete Massaro is a higher ranking DT, but is only listed at 245 lbs. Nowadays, that weight is considered to be more fitting for defensive ends, but we'll see.
On offense, the Lions did a good job acquiring some depth for the offensive line, recruiting Mike Farrell, Deon'tae Pannell, and Matt Stankiewich, the last of whom played in the Under Armour All-American game.
With all five 2007 O-line starters returning this year, PSU fans will be unlikely to see any of the new guys until 2009.
Wide receiver was a pressing need for the Lions this year, as Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, and Jordan Norwood are all set to graduate after the 2008 season.
Unfortunately, the Lions could only convince one WR prospect to join the team this year: A.J. Price.
Price is no slouch, but more could have been done here considering the current group of aging wideouts. The failure of former uber-recruit Derrick Williams to break out amongst Big Ten receivers probably played a role in keeping young receivers away from Penn State.
The bright side is that Penn State did sign the #13 tight end in the country, Mark Wedderburn. Hopefully Wedderburn won't be a huge disappointment like TE Andrew Quarless was. If he is, DE Jack Crawford can be moving to TE.
PSU did not do much at tailback, netting only Brandon Beachum, who is sometimes listed as a LB. PSU fans shouldn't sweat this too much, considering RB Evan Royster is set to start this year as a sophomore and will be backed up by fellow sophomore Brent Carter and freshman Stephon Green.
The big question mark is at quarterback.
PSU has no one so far. Did they put all their eggs into the Terrelle Pryor basket? Doing so would put a lot of pressure on highly-touted sophomore Pat Devlin to be the QB of the future. However, there seems to be a better and better chance that the Lions may actually land Pryor.
If he REALLY wanted to go to Ohio State, he wouldn't have gotten cold feet in the last minute and delayed his decision.
Even without Pryor, Penn State built a good foundation for the future with solid linebackers and O-line recruits. The biggest questions (besides Pryor) are the WR and DB positions.
Still, the Lions can use next year to fill these holes.
Either way, there's no reason to go nuts with either optimism or pessimism, as recruits never seem to pan out the way they're supposed to (Paul Posluzny got three freakin' stars on rivals.com).
Only time will tell how this year's class ranks.
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