- Josh Moyer, ESPN Staff Writer
In spite of the sanctions, the Nittany Lions' recruiting class has held up remarkably well. It's currently ranked No. 24 in the nation and features the nation's top quarterback in Christian Hackenberg and top tight end in Adam Breneman.
Without the specter of the sanctions, this class would be even better. But how does it rank now compared to past Penn State classes? Is this class just as good, or has it noticeably slid a little?
NittanyNation takes a look back at the last four classes and sees how 2013 stacks up.
THIS YEAR'S CLASS
Class of 2013 - No. 24 recruiting class
Number of commits/players in ESPN 300: 18/5
Star breakdown: 6 four-star, 9 three-star, 3 two-star
Class of 2012 - Finished outside of top-25
Number of commits/players in ESPN 300: 20/0
Star breakdown: 2 four-star, 10 three-star, 3 two-star, 5 unrated
Top-ranked player: WR Eugene Lewis. He's an incredible athlete who needed a redshirt year to learn the receiver position. He should see quite a bit of playing time in 2013.
Top sleeper: WR Trevor Williams. He came in as a two-star prospect who wasn't highly touted. He was battling for the starting position in preseason camp and played in every game.
Comparing it to 2013: The incoming class definitely packs more star power. PSU had a four-star WR and DT in 2012 -- but the 2013 class also boasts a four-star WR in DaeSean Hamilton and three linemen rated four stars or higher. About five 2012 prospects could see significant time next season, and the 2013 class could likely say the same thing at this point next year.
Class of 2011 - Finished outside of top-25
Number of commits/players in ESPN 300: 16/2
Star breakdown: 4 four-star, 8 three-star, 4 two-star
Top-ranked player: OG Angelo Mangiro. He was the top backup on the offensive line and will see significant playing time in 2013. He's a solid player for the Nittany Lions.
Top sleeper: WR Allen Robinson. He came in as a two-star prospect, a player who was ranked as the second-worst pickup of this class. Now? He's the best WR in the conference.
Comparing it to 2013: This class just finished outside the top 25, but it's definitely proven to be a strong one. After all, this is the class that brought fans the "Supa Six" -- a half-dozen players who started or saw considerable time this season. There are definitely some strikeouts in this class, but between the Supa Six and four other players who saw a lot of playing time, the 2013 class will definitely have some catching up to do. The 2013 class is more heralded, but 2011 might end up being stronger in the end.
Class of 2010 - No. 11 recruiting class
Number of commits/players in ESPN 300: 20/6
Star breakdown: 9 four-star, 9 three-star, 1 two-star, 1 unrated
Top-ranked player: LB Khairi Fortt. If not for an injury, he would likely have been the No. 4 linebacker this season and would have been in strong position to start next season. He transferred to California, however.
Top sleeper: RB Zach Zwinak. In a highly touted class, he came in ranked as one of the lower prospects as a three-star but he's only one of three regular starters left from this group, reaching 1,000 rushing yards this past season.
Comparing it to 2013: This class was supposed to be the game-changer, a class that would bring Penn State back into national title contention. Instead, this might have just been the biggest recruiting class busts in Penn State history. There's only eight players left from this 20-person class, and neither of the big-name quarterbacks -- Rob Bolden or Paul Jones -- panned out. This class was more heralded than 2013, but it's pretty safe to say that 2013 will be better in the end.
Class of 2009 - No. 16 recruiting class
Number of commits/players in ESPN 300: 26/1
Star breakdown: 6 four-star, 16 three-star, 4 unrated (stars based off grades)
Top-ranked player: OT Eric Shrive. He's been a bit of a disappointment and will likely just see time as a backup next season with most of the offensive line returning.
Top sleeper: OG John Urschel. He wasn't even rated, but he's come on as one of Penn State's strongest interior linemen. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and second team by the media this past season.
Comparing it to 2013: This class was ranked higher than the 2013 class mainly because of the quantity. Jordan Hill and Gerald Hodges were definitely the stars here and this group was pretty good overall. Only one of the top nine recruits started for Penn State this past season, but the Nittany Lions really hit well on a lot of three-star prospects. 2013 could be very similar in that respect, with under-the-radar players such as Jonathan Walton poised to surprise as long as they remain committed.
3dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy