With the 2014 recruiting class finalized at Penn State and about two months until spring practice begins, there will likely be a bit of a lull in football news. That makes this a perfect time to do things like analyze the new Nittany Lions and make predictions about which freshman will make the biggest impact in 2014. There are a few candidates, but the guy with the best chance could be wide receiver Saeed Blacknall.
The Nittany Lions signed the No. 23 recruiting class in the nation, thanks to the work of former head coach Bill O’Brien and new head coach James Franklin. Included in that class are four wide receivers, three of which are 4-star recruits. Blacknall, De’Amdre Thompkins, Chris Godwin and Troy Apke make up the No. 3 class of wide receivers in 2014 according to Rivals. Considering the lack of depth at wide receiver on the current roster, one or more of those guys will be called upon in 2014.
Enter Blacknall. He’s a four-star recruit and the highest rated recruit in Penn State’s class. He’s got the most upside and should distance himself from the other freshman receivers in order to earn an important part in the lineup.
Penn State has to replace both starting wide receivers from last year. Allen Robinson, the Big Ten’s leading receiver the past two seasons, is headed to the NFL Draft. Robinson, one of the best receivers in school history, is projected by many to be a first-round selection. He will leave some big shoes to fill, as he was quarterback Christian Hackenberg’s favorite target last year.
Brandon Felder was the receiver who started much of the season opposite Robinson. He was third on the team in 2012 and 2013 in receiving yards and his three touchdowns this past season put him third on the team. Felder was a two-year starter, but is set to graduate, leaving the Nittany Lions without his services.
With Robinson and Felder both gone, as well as the transfer of Alex Kenney, that leaves just Geno Lewis and Richy Anderson as the leading receivers heading into 2014.
The lack of depth and experience at the wide receiver opens the door for someone new to step up. That person very well could be Blacknall. The young receiver posses good size and great speed, getting clocked at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash. He has the ability to quickly become the new favorite target of Hackenberg. The sophomore quarterback has a big-time arm and likes to go down the field, making Blacknall a favorite to make an early impact for the Nittany Lions in 2014.
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