Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We're moving!

The blog has moved, it can now be found at http://ftgpsu.weebly.com/ it is a more permanent website that should improve the blog's overall quality. We've had an awesome 3 year run using Blog Spot, but I wanted to improve things and felt this was a good way to go about it. Hope you guys all enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Predicting the rest of the 2015 recruiting class.

National signing day is just 18 days away. Right now, the Nittany Lions have the 10th best recruiting class in the country according to 247 Sports. This class has had ups and downs. The de-commitments of Adam McLean and Brandon Wimbush hurt, so did Christian Wilkins choosing Clemson over Penn State. However, there have also been some coups in this class by Coach Franklin and his staff. Steven Gonzalez was seen as a heavy Ohio State lean, Paris Palmer was believed to be a solid South Carolina commit, and Garrett Taylor was considered a shoe-in for LSU following his de-commitment from Michigan. While the Nittany Lions may not finish with a top 10 class, a top 15 class is worst case scenario. I'll take that.

Right now the 2015 recruiting class sits at 20 commitments. This leaves room for 5 more commitments between now and February 4th. Penn State has a handful of visits set up between now and then, and they will (most likely) take 25 players in this class. Here is a look at what the rest of this class could look like.

Kamaal Seymour
The 6'6, 270 pound defensive tackle from Brooklyn is currently committed to Rutgers. Seymour has been committed to the Scarlet Knights since April, but has seen his stock rise since then. While Seymour could use a redshirt year to bulk up and become less lanky, he is still an intriguing player to me. Seymour won't be mistaken for Christian Wilkins any time soon, but he can still be a good college player. Seymour took an official visit to UCF last month, and will be in Happy Valley this weekend. He will be taking his official visit to Rutgers next weekend. Seymour would also help to begin to fill the one big hole in this recruiting class, defensive tackle.

Prediction: Even though Seymour says he is 'solidly committed' to Rutgers I would worry if I was a Scarlet Knights fan (and thank God I'm not, I imagine being a Rutgers fan must suck). Usually when a player decides to start taking official visits elsewhere, it is not a good sign. I will not be the least bit surprised if Seymour pulls the trigger on a flip to Penn State during when things are said and done. However, Rutgers having his final official visit should work into their favor. If Seymour was visiting Penn State the weekend of the 23rd, I'd feel better about their chances of landing him. Even though Seymour to Penn State would not surprise me at all, I am predicting he will remain committed to Rutgers.

Robert Windsor
Within an hour of Christian Wilkins committing to Clemson, Windsor was offered a scholarship by the Nittany Lions and set up an official visit for the weekend of January 23rd. That will be a huge recruiting weekend for the Nittany Lions as five remaining un-committed targets will be visiting campus, as will most of the commits in the 2015 class. USA Today named Windsor the Defensive Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin this year. Windsor, like Seymour, needs a redshirt year to bulk up some. Windosr does a great job of getting leverage on players and has an awesome motor, but he needs more size to better handle double team blocks. Between Windsor and Seymour, Windsor has a higher ceiling of the two in my opinion. Windsor has named a top three of Illinois, Penn State, and Maryland. However, he has said Penn State is his leader. He is a player who has really seen his recruitment take off after a strong senior season. Windsor, like Seymour, would help to fill the defensive tackle hole in this class.

Prediction: Even though the Nittany Lions did not offer Windsor until last week, I'll be very surprised if they do not land him. The only way I do not see him committing to Penn State is if he receives a Wisconsin offer, which seems very unlikely as the Badgers recruiting class is already full. I fully expect Windsor to commit to Penn State shortly there after his visit. Windsor has said he would like to wait until he got home and talked things over with his family before committing, or I'd predict him to commit during his visit. 

Shareef Miller
Shareef Miller
The Philadelphia native will be among those taking an official visit to Penn State the weekend of January 23rd, and is the biggest remaining target for Penn State. Do not let the fact Miller is only a three star recruit fool you, he is an outstanding defensive end and highly coveted by multiple Power 5 programs for a reason. He recently announced a top 5 of Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Arizona State, and Miami, with the Nittany Lions being the leader. Miller has already taken official visits to Pitt and Rutgers, and has official visits schedule for Arizona State (January 16th) and Miami (January 30th). Penn State has long been the heavy, heavy  favorite to land Miller. However, late last week he was offered by the Florida Gators. Former Gator great, and now Minnesota Viking, Shariff Floyd went to the same high school as Miller does. Miller is very intrigued by this Florida offer, and could very possibly take an official visit to Florida over Arizona State or Miami. Miller has said that despite the Florida offer Penn State is still his leader, but the Gators seem to be gaining a lot of steam and quickly. Miller is slated to announce his college decision on February 2nd. Missing out on Miller would really be disheartening. Because Miller, much like Christian Wilkins, is a guy that has long seemed to be a Penn State lock and can help at a position of need. Even though Miller is a DE and not a DT, landing Miller makes it easier to move Kam Carter or Ryan Buchholz inside to DT.

Prediction: Even though Miller has said Penn State is still his leader, the amount of steam, and how quickly, Florida seems to be gaining is very concerning to me. All along I have thought Miller was a Penn State lock, but that is starting to change. I think it comes down to rather or not he visits Florida. If he does, I think Miller ends up in Gainesville. If not, I'm sticking with the Nittany Lions.

Tyler Howell
The JUCO offensive tackle is another player that will be on campus the weekend of the 23rd. The 6'9, 302 pound tackle has already taken official visits to Missouri, Arkansas, and Arizona State. While Howell is not as talented or polished as Penn State's incoming JUCO offensive tackle Paris Palmer, Howell would still be an upgrade on the Penn State offensive line. If the Nittany Lions were to add Howell, odds are their offensive tackles in 2015 would be he and Palmer.

Prediction: Coach Franklin and his staff have been masterful at getting guys on campus, and then getting them to commit. While I would love to see it happen again with Howell, unfortunately I don't see it happening. I won't completely rule out Howell choosing Penn State, but I am not expecting it either. In the end, I think he'll end up at Arkansas.

Nick Bowers
Tight end Nick Bowers is currently committed to Pitt. However, there have been rumors of him flipping ever since the Nittany Lions offered Bowers in late September. If not for the sanctions Bowers would have been offered sooner by Penn State, but once the sanctions were dropped in September the Nittany Lions gained more freedom on how they could use scholarship offers. This summer Bowers came to a camp at Penn State and the staff fell in love with him. To me, Bowers is one of the more underrated players in the state of Pennsylvania. Right now the only tight end in the 2015 recruiting class in Jon Holland. However, Holland could also end up playing defensive end. Bowers was on campus for the Ohio State game, and will be taking his official visit to Penn State the weekend of the 23rd.

Prediction: Ever since Bowers was offered by the Nittany Lions, I have been expecting him to flip his commitment eventually. This stance of mine has not changed. I expect Nick Bowers to commit to Penn State either during or shortly after his official visit next weekend.

John Petrishen
For my money, John Petrishen is the most underrated prospect in the entire state of Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Central Catholic defensive back is incredibly athletic, physical, and a very good tackler. Petrishen can make an immediate impact in the fall via special teams, and become a very good Adrian Amos type of defender in a few years. Petrishen has named a top three of Penn State, Virginia, and Pitt. However, there has been some confusion as to what kind of contact, if any, Petrishen has had with the new staff at Pitt. Petrishen is scheduled to announce his college decision on signing day (February 4th).

Prediction: This is one that is really hard to predict for me. I'm going to predict that Petrishen commits to Penn State and ends up being the final member of this recruiting class, but nothing will surprise me.

As we saw last year, there is always the possibility of a few surprises between now and signing day. Coach Franklin and his staff have been known to pulls commitments out of seemingly nowhere. So it is very possible other names could join the picture between now and February 4th, but as of now these are the six players to watch.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The James Franklin hire one year later.

One year ago today. January 11th, 2014, James Franklin was named the 16th head coach in the prestigious history of Penn State Football. Nittany Lion fans far and wide were excited with this hire. It was a hire that seemed to really rejuvenate the fan base. Now a year later, it is time to reflect on year one.

The Pennsylvania native came in right away making waves. He blew everyone away at his press conference, I still remember being ready to run through a wall for him afterward.  This is where "Dominate the State" was born, and the disdain for Coach Franklin in the Pittsburgh media reached huge heights.

From the get go, Coach Franklin began to make a positive impact on the program.  Two members of the 2014 recruiting class, offensive linemen Chance Sorrell and Brendan Brosnan, committed to Penn State the day Franklin was introduced as head coach. In total, Coach Franklin picked up nine commitments in the month between his hiring and National Signing Day. This pushed the 2014 recruiting class into the top 25 nationally, as well as third best in the Big Ten. Furthermore, he also landed the classes highest rated player WR Saeed Blacknall.

The recruiting has not let up. Despite losing Adam McLean and Brandon Wimbush via de-commitment, the Nittany Lions still currently have a top ten recruiting class for 2015. If it finishes in the top ten, it'll be the first time Penn State has done that since 2010. Some of Penn State's top recruits in this 2015 class, such as Steven Gonzalez and Paris Palmer, are guys that would not be at Penn State without Coach Franklin and his staff. This staff is bringing Penn State back into the world of big boy recruiting. Don't forget that the 2016 class is also off and running with Shane Simmons, Miles Sanders, and Jake Zembiec.

Coach Franklin has also made an impact within the athletic department. He has secured much needed renovations to the Lasch Building that will begin this December. These renovations will make Penn State's facilities among the best in the FBS, and be a great recruiting tool. There is also that new $1M a year deal defensive coordinator Bob Shoop got. Finally, Penn State is paying top notch coordinators accordingly to keep them in Happy Valley.

It has not all been roses, though. For one, the Nittany Lions limped to a 6-6 finish in the regular season. Penn State started 4-0, and then lost six of their final eight games to finish the regular season at 6-6. Even though they were able to beat a good Boston College team in the Pinstripe Bowl to finish the season with a winning record at 7-6. The offense was also, well, offensive more times than not this year.

Penn State lost to a terrible Illinois team this year, as well as bad Northwestern and Michigan teams. The Northwestern game was never close, and the Michigan game is one where coaching caught a lot of heat. The clock management at the end of the game, as well as the fake punt in the third quarter were both very bad and probably cost the Nittany Lions the game. The clock management and play calling against Maryland was bad too. However, I'm willing to wait and see what this offensive staff does with a real offensive line and experienced WRs before feeding them to the wolves.
Bell (26) and Johnson (99) broke out this season.


One can not mention the bad offense without mentioning the great defense though. Last year Penn State's defense was arguably the worst in the Big Ten and possibly the worst I have ever seen at Penn State. In 2014 it did a complete 180. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop took a unit, with essentially the same players from last year, and made them one of the five to ten best in all of the FBS. The Nittany Lions finished first or second nationally in rushing, passer efficiency, and total defense this season. They were also in the top ten nationally in scoring defense, and ranked first in the Big Ten in all four of these categories. The defense saw players like Brandon Bell, Anthony Zettel, Austin Johnson, and Trevor Williams begin to breakout and come into their own this season. Coach Franklin and Coach Shoop's defenses at Vanderbilt were always very strong as well, so there is no reason to expect this to change.

In his first season Coach Franklin led the Nittany Lions to a 7-6 record. This included a victory in the Pinstripe Bowl. This was Penn State first bowl game since 2011 and first bowl victory since 2009. While there were games Penn State easily could have won that got away (Michigan, Illinois, Maryland) it is hard for me to be too disappointed in how the season went. The sanctions were lifted, a team that was dressing between 40 and 45 scholarship players every week made and won a bowl game, and Penn State got through the sanction years with a winning record in each season going 22-15 overall.

While there are some questions about Coach Franklin's in game coaching calls, I still have zero doubt that he is the right man to take this program back to where it should be. To me, Coach Franklin has proven he is a good coach. He led an extremely undermanned Penn State team to a winning record and a bowl victory. This came after leading Vanderbilt to the best three year stretch in school history while working with, no offense, players that are not nearly as talented as the players he has/will have at Penn State. If he would not have been hired at Penn State last offseason, then right now Coach Franklin is the head coach at another Power 5 job (Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, etc.) that has opened up between the end of the 2013 season and now. Possibly, he could even be in the NFL as the Redskins and Browns were both showing a lot of interest in him last offseason.

One year ago today I said Coach Franklin was an absolute home run hire for Penn State, and I still feel that way today. Bigger and better things are on the way, we just need to be patient. Remember, the sanctions weren't supposed to be easy to recover from. No matter who the head coach was, year three was always going to be the worst year of the sanctions. As long as Coach Franklin and his staff continue to recruit they way they have their first 12 months on the job, they will win a lot of football games at Penn State.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Penn State Football is a sleeping giant and because of Coach Franklin the alarm clock is about to go off. Buckle up, there is a lot of fun and excitement coming for Penn State fans.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The top 5 games of the 2014 season.

The 2014 Penn State Football season was an up and down season. The Nittany Lions started the season 4-0, then went on to lose 4 straight to slide to 4-4. After this Penn State won two in a row to get back to 6-4 and then finished the regular season on a two game losing streak to finish at 6-6. However, the season ended on a very high note as the Nittany Lions defeated the Boston College Eagles 31-30, in overtime, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl to finish the season at 7-6.

Ultimately, the 2014 season was always more about the future than the present. Even once the sanctions were lifted. Yes the Nittany Lions had become eligible to get to the postseason, but they were still only dressing between 40 and 45 scholarship players each week. They were a team that lacked depth, offensive linemen, and experience at WR. However, the 2014 season still had plenty of exciting moments.

#5 Penn State 30, Temple 13
This was a game Penn State was a big favorite in. It was a game that, despite being just 6-3 Nittany Lions at halftime, was not a close exciting game, but rather a dominating Penn State victory. However, it was the game that got the Nittany Lions that coveted 6th victory and made them bowl eligible. After this game it became known that Penn State would be going bowling for the first time since 2011. It was a game that saw Akeel Lynch and the Nittany Lions run all over a very good Temple rush defense to the tune of 254 rushing yards. It was a game that helped to highlight the future, as true freshmen Christian Campbell and Grant Haley each got their first career interceptions. Haley even returned his for a touchdown. It was a game that even saw a slight dose of Christian Hackenberg's clutchness when he led a nine play, 55 yard drive in the 53 seconds of the first half to set up a Sam Ficken field goal to take a halftime lead. Most importantly though, it was the game that sent the Nittany Lions back to the postseason.

#4 Ohio State 31, Penn State 24 (2OT)
This is the one game on the list that was a loss. Despite being a loss, it was an extremely exciting game and one that showed off how much resiliency this team truly has. The Nittany Lions were two touchdown underdogs to the Buckeyes, trailed 17-0 at halftime, and still damn near pulled off the upset. The crowd this night was one of the best anyone has ever seen at Beaver Stadium. This was the night everyone found out just how good the 2014 defense really was. Through four quarters and two overtime periods Penn State held the high powered Ohio State offense (which averages 45 points and 509 yards per game, and just put up over 500 yards against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl) to just 293 total yards by far their lowest total of the season. On the Buckeyes' opening drive of the second half Anthony Zettel got a pick six to cut the Ohio State lead to 17-7, and the rally was on. The Nittany Lions cut it to 17-14 on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Hack to Saeed Blacknall. Then, Hack led a 19 play 77 yard drive that took 2:49 and ended in a game tying field goal by Sam Ficken with 9 seconds left in regulation. The Nittany Lions even took a 24-17 lead in overtime on a Bill Belton touchdown run. However, the Buckeyes were able to tie the game and then win it in double overtime after Hack was sacked on a fourth down. The sold out white house crowd at Beaver Stadium was incredible on this night, and just a preview of crowds that are to come as more and more big games are played at Beaver Stadium in the coming years. Unfortunately, this game is not remembered for the Nittany Lions near incredible comeback but rather for the horrible officiating. I am not one to blame officials for a loss, and had the Nittany Lions defense held in overtime when given a 24-17 lead it would not have mattered, but this is one game that had it been officiated better the Nittany Lions would have won. The interception debacle, Ohio State kicking a field goal after the play clock expired, the Buckeyes getting away with a false start on a touchdown run, they horrendous leaping penalty called on Mike Hull in overtime, and honestly I could keep going on but thinking about it is making my blood boil. Despite losing this game, it was an unforgettable one and one that showed Penn State is an extremely resilient team.
STILL NOT AN INTERCEPTION



#3 Penn State 13, Rutgers 10
In the third game of the season the 2-0 Nittany Lions traveled to Piscataway to take on the 2-0 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. It was the Big Ten season opener for Penn State, and the first ever Big Ten game for Rutgers. All week the Scarlet Knights flapped their gums, and their head coach Kyle Flood even referred to Penn State as "that school from Pennsylvania." Yes, even four months later it still sounds ridiculous. Their fans also had some stupid bed sheet with the name of every Penn State player from New Jersey on it calling them traitors. It was a game that was under the lights, Rutgers had a pretty electric crowd that night, the Scarlet Knights led 10-0 at halftime, and then the Nittany Lions crushed their dreams. In the second half John Donovan made some very good adjustments to the gameplan, and Hack had his last good game before struggling for the next nine and bouncing back in the bowl game. Hackenberg threw for 309 yards, and took the Nittany Lions on a six play 80 yard drive that was capped off by a go ahead touchdown run by Bill Belton (the same Bill Belton that Rutgers fans hate because he said he did not go to Rutgers because he wanted to play big time college football) with 1:13 left in the game. The defense was lights out this night. They held Rutgers to just 294 yards of total offense and intercepted Gary Nova five times. It was great to get the win in Coach Franklin's first Big Ten game. However, the best part of this game was shutting up that annoying fan base. Penn State and Rutgers will probably never be a rivalry. Largely because Penn State is, always has been, and always will be a much more successful program than Rutgers. But that does not change the fact I have a lot of disdain for that fan base, and beating them year in and year out will be fun. Doing it in comeback fashion, in a game that some called the biggest game in Rutgers history, and having the winning touchdown scored by a native son of New Jersey, well that was just extra sweet.

#2 Penn State 26, UCF 24
To start the season Penn State went to Dublin, Ireland, to battle a very good UCF Knights team. It was a game the Nittany Lions were underdogs heading into and that not many people in the media thought they would win, but Penn State had other ideas. Christian Hackenberg threw for a school record 454 yards, and the Nittany Lions out gained the Kinghts 511 yards to 246. It was a game Penn State should have won easily. However, due to the defense playing their lone bad half of the season in the second half and the offenses' inability to get touchdowns in the red zone the Nittany Lions needed some late game magic from their two best two players. Christian Hackenberg orchestrated an eight play 55 yard drive, with just 1:13 on the clock, that culminated in a 36 yard Sam Ficken field goal as the clock expired to give the Nittany Lions a 26-24 victory. As the Nittany Lions would do throughout the season they would show how resilient they are on this day. Christian Hackenberg flashed his brilliance throughout the day, it was one of the few games he did it in during the 2014 season, and Sam Ficken was money nailing all four field goal attempts. It got the 2014 season and the James Franklin Era off to a rousing start.


#1 Penn State 31, Boston College 30 (OT)
There was never really any doubt as to which game would be number one, was there? The Pinstripe Bowl was an incredibly entertaining football game to watch, and wound up capping off the season in grand fashion.  Finishing 7-6 just flat out looks and feels a lot better than 6-7, and it guaranteed that the Nittany Lions would finish each of the three sanction seasons with a winning record. This was a game where the resiliency of this team was demonstrated one last time. Late in the third quarter Penn State trailed 21-7, they trailed 24-21 with two minutes left in the game, and trailed 30-24 in overtime. Yet this time never gave up, rallied multiple times, and pulled off the one point victory courtesy of a Sam Ficken extra point. After struggling for most of the season Christian Hackenberg bounced back to finish the season with arguably his best game of the year. He threw for 371 yards against a top 15 defense, and led the team on a late drive to get a game tying field goal in the closing seconds. It was a thrilling victory, it gave this team a ton of momentum heading into the offseason, and it was a great way to end the sanctioned era. It showed college football that Penn State is on their way back.

The future of Penn State Football is extremely bright. The brightest it has been in quite awhile. This is a team with a lot of young talent, they currently have a top 10 recruiting class for 2015, and they 2016 class already contains arguably the best defensive end and the best running back in the country for 2016. 7-6 seasons should not be expected moving forward. Even in 2015 when the team will still be somewhat shorthanded scholarship wise, this team should still improve by at least one or two wins. The 2014 season was an up and down one. It was one fans will never forget due to the sanctions being lifted early, and it is also one that was just the start of the very bright future under the guidance of James Franklin.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Penn State steps up to the plate with Bob Shoop.

It was reported a few days ago that LSU was interested in hiring Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop to the same position. Then on Tuesday we found out Shoop had spoken with LSU head coach Les Miles, and that there was mutual interest. The Advocate, a Baton Rogue newspaper, even reported that Shoop interviewed for the position yesterday.

Many people in Nittany Nation were in full fledged panic mode. A lot of people seemed to be convinced Shoop, who is undoubtedly one of college football's best defensive coordinators, was SEC bound. Last season LSU's offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive coordinator John Chavis both made over $1.3M last year. It appeared the Tigers would simply outbid PSU for Shoop's services. Regardless of what, if anything, LSU offered Shoop the athletic department stepped up big time.

On Tuesday I said Shoop was about to test Penn State's commitment to once again becoming a national power. The days of paying assistants a minimal amount of money to stay are well gone. In today's college football if you want to be a big time program, which requires having excellent assistant coaches, you must pay your assistants accordingly. Well, Sandy Barbour and the athletic department stepped up to the plate.

While to full details of Shoop's new deal are unknown, what is known is that it is for three year. Also, according to Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com, Shoop's new deal is worth near $1M annually. I am pleasantly surprised by the athletic department's financial commitment to Shoop. For comparisons Jeremy Pruitt of Georgia, who left Florida State following their national championship season last year, only makes $850,000 a year. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes $800,000 a year. Ohio State's Luke Fickell? $750,000 a year. It appears Shoop is making more than these coaches, who are widely considered among the best defensive coordinators in the country. Hell, it appears Shoop's new contract is close to the $1.3M Alabama pays Kirby Smart per year.

The job Bob Shoop did this season can not be overstated. He took a thin defense, that was nowhere near good last year, utilized a lot of young players (Marcus Allen, Grant Haley, Austin Johnson, Brandon Bell) and turned them into one of the five best in college football this season. Possibly most impressive was the fact the Nittany Lions' ranked second nationally this season in passer efficiency defense, one year after having one of the worst secondaries I have ever seen. In my opinion, the defnese played five bad quarters all year. The second half against UCF, the first quarter against Northwestern, and the third quarter against Boston College.

Penn State truly does deserve a lot of credit for this. It is great to see them spending like the big boys do on the football program. Don't forget the $12M overhaul that is coming of the Lasch Building that will make Penn State's facilities among the absolute best in the country. The past few days had been downers for Penn State fans due to Christian Wilkins committing to Clemson, and the uneasiness over Shoop's future. This, however, is news that should make everyone feel ten times better. Not only is Shoop going nowhere, it truly confirms Penn State's commitment to doing what it takes to make sure this program becomes a national power once more.

Sandy Barbour and the rest of the athletic department are ready to do what they must to make Penn State Football a national power once more. Now, it is up to Coach Franklin, his staff, and their players to do the rest. Oh, by the way, only 100 days until the Blue White Game!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bob Shoop may test Penn State's (financial) commitment to becoming a national power once more.

Now this may sound crazy from just reading the headline, but hear me out. As you all know by now, it was reported by multiple sources last night that Penn State Defensive Coordinator Bob Shoop will interview for the same position with the LSU Tigers. While this may seem like a lateral move to some, LSU still has one major appeal Penn State may not. Money.

Now I do not want anyone to think I am suggesting the athletic department is not committed to being a big time winner. If they were not, the school would not have ponied up the money they did last off season to bring in James Franklin. Coach Franklin does make over $4M a year, and is one of the ten highest paid coaches in college football after all. There also that massive overhaul of Lasch Building, which will be a massive recruiting tool, that is coming later this year.

The days of paying top notch assistant coaches like Tom Bradley, Ron Vandelrinden, and Larry Johnson a minimal amount to stick around are way gone. It is time for Penn State to do what it takes to be a major college program and to win big time games once more. One thing any program must do to accomplish these feats is pony up and pay assistant coaches. It is time for Penn State to do this with Shoop.

This season Shoop led a Nittany Lion defense that, at the end of the regular season, ranked first nationally in rush defense, second nationally in total defense, second nationally in opposing passer efficiency, and eighth in scoring defense. All of these were good for tops in the Big Ten in 2014. Maybe most impressively is the fact Shoop did it with a defense that lacked depth, and had many of the same players that made up a defense that was atrocious in 2013. Needless to say, Shoop is a hell of a defense coordinator and a vital part to the Nittany Lions' on field success.

What Shoop makes at Penn State is an unknown. For comparison though Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, another LSU candidate, makes $850,000 a year. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venable makes $800,000 a year. Jeremy Pruitt who left the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles for the Georgia Bulldogs last off season, like Stoops, also makes $850,000 a year. It is time to pay Shoop like these guys because he most certainly deserves it.Plus, if Penn State does not pay him this kind of money someone else will.

If Shoop were to leave for LSU it would, most likely, be for one major reason. Money. This is some thing Penn State can make a non-issue though. By giving the man a raise he most certainly deserves. I do not care what anyone says Shoop is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. Hell, he honestly might be the best defensive coordinator Penn State has ever had. There is no way of sugar coating it, losing him to LSU this off season would be a big blow.

Now, there is a very good chance Shoop does not get the LSU job. He could be interviewing for leverage with Penn State. Plus, he would be stupid not to interview for it if they are interested. He has nothing to lose, and a lot to gain. Furthermore, Shoop appears to be LSU's third or fourth option. It is believed that Alabama linebacker coach Kevin Steele, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, and LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley are the frontrunners. However, it is time to pay Bob Shoop. Even if it is not needed to prevent him from going to LSU. Dear Ms. Barbour and the athletic department, open up your checkbook. Please. If you want to play in big games, and win said games, like the big boys of college football do then it is time to spend money on assistant coaches like they do.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christian Wilkins commits to Clemson, now what?

In a surprising move, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins committed to Clemson today. Wilkins' recruitment had been very hard to read as he kept pretty quiet, but he was long viewed as a heavy PSU lean. Shoot, I even had it on good authority he would be committing to PSU this afternoon. Shows what we all know.

Missing out on Wilkins is a big blow for the 2015 recruiting class. Even though the class currently ranks 11th nationally, and 2nd in the B1G, according to 24/7 Sports it lacks big time at defensive tackle. Due to the de-commitment of Adam McLean and Wilkins committing to Clemson, the class has no true defensive tackle.

So, now what? Well for 2015 Penn State should be okay. The team's top three defensive tackles (Anthony Zettel, Austin Johnson, and Tarrow  Barney) all return. Parker Cothren who played a decent amount this year also returns. Plus, Antoine White who was redshirted this year is now in the mix. Penn State should still be very strong at defensive tackle in 2015. It's beyond 2015 that is worrisome.

Anthony Zettel is a senior next season, as is Tarrow Barney. Austin Johnson could very easily leave for the NFL Draft after next season, and then Penn State would really be in a bind. They might be even if Johnson does elect to stay for 2016.
Ryan Buchholz

One option, and one that I think is almost a guarantee, is to move Ryan Buchholz inside to DT. The class of 2015 commit currently checks in at 6'4, 255 pounds. It would not be hard to redshirt him, have him bulk up, and bump him inside to DT. With Garrett Sickels, Kam Carter, Torrence Brown, and most likely Shareef Miller all in the fold at DE for at least three more years I think this is pretty much a guarantee. Especially if/when Miller does commit to PSU.

The Nittany Lions could also look to other recruits. Two in specific, Kamaal Seymour and Robert Windsor.

Seymour is currently committed to Rutgers. When he committed to the Scarlet Knights last spring he was pretty much an unknown, but has seen his recruiting pick up after a strong senior season. Next weekend he'll be taking an official visit to UCF. He also has an OV scheduled for PSU. At 6'6, 270 pounds Seymour's size really intrigues me. Especially if he can bulk up a bit more and take away some of his lankiness. Seymour is a guy who, if I had to guess, would predict to flip to PSU during/after his OV. But we shall see.

Windsor is another guy who has seen his recruiting start to pick up lately. The 6'5, 260 pound Wisconsin native was offered by PSU today and also scheduled an OV. Windsor also holds offers from Maryland, Iowa State, Purdue, Vanderbilt, and Illinois. Windsor's official visit to Penn State will be the weekend of January 23rd, the same as Shareef Miller and John Petrishen.

Now, no offense to either young man, but neither Seymour nor Windsor is in the same class as Wilkins. Wilkins is one of the best defensive tackle recruits in the country, and not getting him really hurts. There is no other way around this, it hurts. But right now Penn State just needs depth at DT. That is where guys like Seymour and Windsor come in. Plus, some times these lesser recruited filler type guys turn into very good starters. John Urschell and Alan Robinson for example. 

People may panic over this, but there is no need. This recruiting class is still among the best in the country, and by far the best PSU has had since at least 2010. Right now they just dearly need depth and quantity at DT, the quality part can come in 2016.

P.S.
I enjoy the blog so much I wrote this post on my phone in between sets at the gym. No lie.