Breaking down Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks down the sidelines during the first half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl against the Washington Huskies at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions walks down the sidelines during the first half of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl against the Washington Huskies at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 30, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

With National Signing Day now in the rearview mirror, we can take a look at the 2018 Penn State football recruiting class as a whole

The 2018 college football recruiting cycle has officially come to an end. While this cycle featured the first ever early signing period, Wednesday was the traditional National Signing Day bringing the official end to recruiting for the 2018 class.

Penn State football’s recruiting class is now finalized for the 2018 cycle. The class of 23 that the Nittany Lions have inked can be described in one word — elite.

The Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class is the fourth best in the country according to the composite rankings of 247 Sports. This is good enough for second best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.

Based on the composite rankings of 247 sports, Penn State’s class has three five-star players and six top-100 players. In addition to their three five-stars, the Nittany Lions have signed 12 four-star players and eight three-stars. Penn State’s class is one of just five in the FBS with 3+ five-star signees.

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Maybe the most impressive thing about Penn State’s recruiting class is that it features two of the top ten players in the country in defensive athlete Micah Parsons (#5 overall) and wide receiver Justin Shorter (#8 overall). Both Parsons, who is an early enrollee and already on campus, and Shorter will make immediate impacts as freshmen.

Running back Ricky Slade is Penn State’s other five-star signee. Like Parsons and Shorter, Slade will make an immediate impact in the fall. Barring injury, Slade will see time at running back and in the return game.

Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class superlatives

Best position group – wide receiver 

There may not be a recruiting class in the country with a better group of wide receivers than Penn State.

On top of five-star Justin Shorter, the Nittany Lions also netted a pair of four-star wideouts in Jahan Dotson and Daniel George. Dotson will bring a big play ability to the Nittany Lion offense, while George brings the ability to make the tough catch in traffic while being a great route runner.

As for Shorter, he has all the tools needed to make a big impact right away in the fall. It is not hard to imagine Shorter becoming one of the best wide receivers in the FBS one day soon and a future first round pick in the NFL Draft.

Honorable mention: defensive line, offensive line

Most underrated player – Charlie Katshir

Cumberland Valley linebacker Charlie Katshir has a composite ranking of .8755 on 247 Sports. This makes him the fourth lowest rated player in the class. Just an aside, but for a class’ fourth lowest player to have a rating of .8755 is pretty insane.

Do not let this rating fool you, Katshir will be a great linebacker at Penn State. Katshir has great insticts at the linebacker position and a nose for the football. He is also a very athletic, physical player. With his athleticism, physicality, and instinct at Katshir possesses the three things needed to be a great linebacker that can not be taught.

During his high school career he was plagued by shoulder issues. He also committed to Penn State very early on and never attended any of the major camps. All of these could be reasons for him being so underrated by recruiting services. Whatever the reason, the Nittany Lions are getting a good one in Katshir.

Honorable mention: CB Jordan Miner, DT Aeneas Hawkins

Most surprising signee – Nana Asiedu

For the first year plus of his recruiting offensive tackle Nana Asiedu was seen as a heavy Clemson lean. Even though he kept visiting Penn State, no one gave the Nittany Lions much of a chance at all to eventually land the country’s eighth best offensive tackle.

However, after visiting Penn State for Junior Day in February of 2017 things began to change in Asiedu’s recruitment. He would make a return visit to Happy Valley for the Blue White Game. That weekend, he committed to Penn State, never wavered in his commitment, and signed with the Nittany Lions during the early signing period in December.

Stealing Nana Asiedu away from the at the time defending National Champion Clemson Tigers was an incredible effort by James Franklin, Matt Limegrove, and the rest of Penn State’s staff. Due to their hard work, the Nittany Lions now have an elite offensive tackle pairing in their 2018 recruiting class with Asiedu and Rasheed Walker.

Honorable mention: OL Juice Scruggs, DT Judge Culpepper

Best player – Micah Parsons

In my opinion, this past fall, Micah Parsons was the best high school football player in America. He is the highest rated player that Penn State has signed since Derrick Williams in 2005 and for good reasons.

There are very few things Parsons can not do on a football field. He would have been a five-star recruit as a defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker, running back, or tight end.

The early enrollee will begin his Penn State career as a MIKE linebacker and he will have an excellent opportunity to start at linebacker in the fall. He can also be a game wrecking pass rusher both as a defensive end and as an edge rushing linebacker.

In three years, Micah Parsons will be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. It would not be the least bit surprising to see him go as a high pick due to the emphasis placed on rushing the passer in the NFL these days.

Micah Parsons may very well be the best defensive player Penn State has had since LaVar Arrington. Enjoy watching him the next three years, because it is going to be a lot of fun.

Honorable mention: WR Justin Shorter, RB Ricky Slade

Next: Shaquon Anderson-Butts will go JUCO

Penn State football recruiting has soared to new levels under James Franklin, and the 2018 class is his best yet with the Nittany Lions. This is Penn State’s highest rated recruiting class since before the turn of the century and one of its best ever.

The past two seasons Penn State has gone a combined 22-5 and is one of just six programs to win at least 11 games each of the past two seasons. With the way James Franklin and his staff are recruiting, the Nittany Lions will not be slowing down anytime soon and are here to stay among college football’s elite.