Jake Kiley’s verbal commitment to PSU was met with skepticism amongst many PSU fans in July of 2011. He earned the offer at the former staff’s “rising seniors” camp and quickly committed. At the time, the thought was PSU was viewed as leading for several higher profile candidates, and Kiley’s offer could’ve waited. As it turned out, Kiley’s commitment would be key as “it” exploded later that fall and into the summer. Jake quickly reaffirmed his commitment to the Lions following the sanctions announcement, providing depth in an area (defensive secondary) that was severely lacking.
While Jake was recruited as a cornerback, he made the switch to free safety before the season began, and remained there throughout the season while taking a redshirt. He will enter spring practice in that spot. Going strictly off of last year’s depth chart, Kiley will likely be 3rd string, behind rising senior Malcolm Willis, and run-on junior-to-be Ryan Keiser. Barring an injury to Willis, he will certainly be the starter, but back-up reps are going to be up for grabs.
The previous staff left the secondary cupboard bare, and Bill O’Brien and the current staff have made secondary recruiting a priority, with 4 of PSU’s 17 commitments playing in the defensive backfield. It’s probably too early to guess where Neiko Robinson, Kasey Gaines, Anthony Smith, and Jordan Smith ultimately end up, it seems likely that given the overall depth concerns, at least one could end up at free safety as well. In short, competition is only going to increase, and everyone will need to pick their game up to get on the field. Kiley’s familiarity with the defense, and working closely with new defensive coordinator John Butler last season should give him a leg up, especially on Gaines and Robinson, who will not enroll until this summer (Both Smiths are on campus now as early enrollees).
Follow VBR Lead Editor Matt de Bear on Twitter for the latest on Penn State