Friday, November 12, 2010
Down year in the Quaker State
By Tom Luginbill
For the first time since 2007, the state of Pennsylvania has not produced at least seven prospects with a grade of 80 or higher. This year's class has only one player, TE Ben Koyack (Oil City, Pa./Oil City), with a grade of 80 or higher. However, this does not necessarily mean it is a down year for certain, but perhaps a year when there are more upside and developmental prospects than we have seen in the past.
While we do not feel there is a Terrelle Pryor at quarterback or a Jonathan Baldwin at wide receiver, we do feel there are some prospects with their best football ahead of them. Pennsylvania often prides itself on being a blue-collar, tough state and this year's crop of prospects for the 2011 class reflects that with guys like TE/DE Robert Kugler (Wexford, Pa./North Alleghany Senior) and TE/FB/DE Jordan Kerner (Fairview, Pa./Fairview).
TE Ben Koyack
This is a pretty good year for tight ends nationwide and Koyack brings that tough, rugged feel to the position you want both in the trenches and in the passing game. The Notre Dame commit is a Kyle Brady-type: physical, runs pretty well and really competes for the ball. Oftentimes the tight end position can be so hard to project because with the spread offense prospects are either really good in the passing game as undersized guys or they are in a run-oriented scheme and are in-line guys who could develop into tackles. It can be hard to find a guy who is well rounded at the position, but Koyack fits that mold.
Remember this name
DE/DT Delvon Simmons (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport)
Simmons is one of those prospects we really feel has a chance to excel at the next level. He has shown great improvement since his junior year and has become more polished and productive on an every-down basis. He was really raw and lacked a consistent motor, but has really improved in this area as a senior. In time, Simmons will expand his overall arsenal of hand moves and develop a plan and counter as a pass-rusher, which will only make him more dangerous and productive.
Taking up residence
Here are the colleges that are doing the best with prospects from Pennsylvania:
Of the top 20 prospects in Pennsylvania this year, Pittsburgh has landed five of them. However, four of the top-six graded prospects in the state have yet to commit. RB Jameel Poteat (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) is more of a powerful bruiser than Dion Lewis and Ray Graham, the Panthers' current backs.
The Nittany Lions are off to a slow start in the 2011 class and currently have only two in-state players committed, including Kerner and Shawn Oakman (Lansdowne, Pa./Penn Wood).
Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas A&M, Purdue, Iowa, Rutgers and Boston College all have a verbal commitment from a player who ranks in the top 20 in the state.
Tom Luginbill is ESPN's national director of football recruiting.