As we wrap up another week in Penn State sports, it’s time to look back and review what we learned. Every Friday, film analyst Thomas Frank Carr does just that, while providing additional context to the topics of conversation from the past five days.
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Penn State recruiting lands Ejani Shakir
This week, the Nittany Lions reached the halfway point for the Class of 2023 with four-star wide receiver Ejani Shakir. He’s the 12th player in the class and the first receiver of the group. Check out his film room from earlier this week.
Currently, Penn State ranks eighth in the On3 team rankings, with five-four star players and seven three-star commits. That number of three-star players is the most in the top ten, with only Arkansas coming close with five three-star players at 12th-overall.
There are still quite a few high-quality players that Penn State can land over the next few months to increase their star average in the class. Yet when looking at the players present in the group, some players can help the overall team ranking by improving their individual ranking before the final tally in December.
Of the players that Penn State has committed, these are the players that can out-perform their current ranking and move up the rankings.
Players poised to move up
DE Jameial Lyons
Jameial Lyons is the 244th player in the class according to On3 but is a three-star in the consensus. He has high-four star talent but is new to the defensive end position and needs time to learn how to use his skills. However, with a final year of seasoning and a full year to play at 255 pounds, Lyons could have a breakout season much like Abdul Carter a year ago.
ATH Mathias Barnewell
I have extolled the talents of Mathias Barnwell for quite some time now. If he commits to playing defensive tackle and puts in the effort to add good weight, he can be a difference-maker. His length, size, and pad level are the stuff that makes up elite three-technique defensive tackles. It won’t take much to send him from a three-star to a four-star player.
OL Joshua Miller
Joshua Miller is technically and physically advanced for his age and is the most significant outlier of this class. However, his three-star profile is likely to change after a strong offseason on the camp circuit, where more evaluators have had a chance to see just how well he moves at 330 pounds. With a commitment to getting better in pass protection, Miller should eventually crack into the top 250 players nationally.
CB Lamont Payne
Lamont Payne is another personal favorite because he’s such a good player independent of his physical skills, and his physical skills aren’t too shabby. Payne is listed at just over 6-0 and 180 pounds. He’s the perfect press-man corner body type with the physical room to play around 200 pounds if he wants to. The Pittsburgh native also has underrated movement skills, hidden a bit by an injury last season. With a solid senior season, he can work his way into the final On300 for Penn State.
Ultimately, here’s a path to a higher ranking for every Pen State player in the Class of 2023. But the players listed above are the ones that I think have the best shot based on what I’ve seen from them on film. The final comment about the group is on quarterback Marcus Stokes. Stokes already plays like a four-star talent, but he’s undersized and might never reach a justifiable ranking thanks to his stature.
Penn State target London Montgomery joins BWI Daily
Another player that would help the star average of the class is four-star running back London Montgomery, who joined the BWI Daily this week to talk about his recruitment.
This situation seems to be more about timing than anything. Montgomery didn’t seem interested in talking about any school but Penn State during our conversation.
Class Superlative Update
As soon as I wrote that tight end Andrew Rappleyea didn’t have any competition for the best hands on the roster for the Class of 2023, Penn State grabbed Shakir. For now, we’re going to stick with Rappleyea even though he and Shakir are dead even in their evaluation. Both are great receivers that don’t drop the ball but have questions about their contested-catch ability. It says something that I counted only four drops between the two of them when viewing their games from last season.