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PSU Football Recruiting

Recruiting notebook: Breaking down defensive commits, and top targets left at each position

With Penn State garnering its 12th commitment in the Class of 2022 last week, it seems likely that the Nittany Lions are about halfway to the finish line. With a reasonable estimate that the class will consist of 23-25 players, the Nittany Lions should really begin to narrow their focus to select targets at key positions.

After reviewing the recruiting board on offense last week, here’s a glance at defensive and special teams, which includes the players already committed, and who else might join the group as the cycle progresses.

Defensive line

Commits: 1 (Ken Talley)

Projected spots remaining: 3-5

Notable targets: Dani Dennis-Sutton, Derrick Moore, Alex VanSumeren, Joe Strickland, Tyreese Fearbry, Anto Saka, Zane Durant, Kaleb Artis, Joshua Josephs, Keon Wylie, Micah Wing

The vast majority of Penn State’s commits currently in the Class of 2022 have been offensive players, but it seems as though the Nittany Lions could still have a significant haul along the defensive line. Dennis-Sutton represents perhaps the biggest target remaining for Penn State, regardless of position. A four-star prospect per the 247 Sports Composite who attends McDonough School in Owings Mills, Maryland, he officially visited Penn State on the weekend of June 11, which was sandwiched between OVs to Georgia and Alabama. 247 Sports crystal ball predictions unanimously favor Penn State for Dennis-Sutton currently. Moore, who attends powerhouse St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland, is another four-star talent who ranks 72nd overall nationally. He has not yet utilized an official visit to Penn State, but he could do so during the season. Oklahoma and Ohio State also appear to be in the mix for his services. VanSumeren, a native of Essexville, Michigan, visited Penn State last month, but his older brother recently transferred to Michigan State, and the Spartans may be the frontrunner in the recruitment for the four-star defensive tackle. Strickland, from Indianapolis, Indiana, took OVs to Penn State, Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, and Indiana. A four-star talent, he anticipates making a commitment before his senior year begins. Several other DL targets have already set July commitment announcements, as Fearbry, from Pittsburgh’s Perry Traditional Academy, will decide on Independence Day, as will Artis, from Fresh Meadows, New York, and Durant, who hails from Orlando, Florida. Additionally, Wylie, from Philadelphia powerhouse Imhotep Institute, will make his decision on July 3, while Saka, from Towson, Maryland, is eyeing July 17th. Josephs, a three-star talent from Kennesaw, Georgia, made an official visit to PSU on June 11, but he’s also taken a close look at Tennessee and Michigan. Wing, from Wilmington, Delaware, visited both Penn State and South Carolina in June.

RELATED: Offensive recruiting breakdown and analysis

Linebacker

Commits: None

Projected spots remaining: 1-2

Notable targets: Jaishawn Barham, Shawn Murphy, Moses Walker, Wesley Bissainthe, Abdul Carter

“Linebacker U” has typically recruited the position at a high level in recent years, but the Nittany Lions have yet to snag a target to this point. Barham, a four-star prospect ranked 59th nationally, visited Penn State in an unofficial capacity on the weekend of June 18th, a week after he made a trip to South Carolina. Barham attends St. Frances Academy in Maryland, and the Terrapins also appear to be in the mix. Murphy, from Unity Reed High School in Manassas, Virginia, has taken trips to Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Alabama within the past month. The Nittany Lions were among his top eight teams in January. Walker, from Brooklyn, New York, used an OV to Penn State last weekend. A four-star prospect who is 150th in the entire class, Walker also visited Rutgers in June. Bissainthe, from Miami, Florida, visited Penn State on June 11th, one week after taking an OV to WVU. However, he’s been to Miami multiple times over the past month, and Florida State also appears to be a top contender. Carter, who attends La Salle College High School in Glenside, Pennsylvania, is ranked as the 10th best player in the state. A four-star prospect, he also visited South Carolina in an official capacity. Some of the aforementioned defensive linemen, such as Josephs, Wylie, and Wing, could also potentially end up at linebacker.

Cornerback

Commits: None

Projected spots remaining: 1-2

Notable targets: Keenan Nelson, Cam Miller, Jayden Bellamy

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It appears as though the Nittany Lions will not have a large haul at cornerback, as Penn State has yet to receive a commitment at the position, and only a few realistic targets remain at this point. Nelson, from Philadelphia’s Saint Joseph’s Prep, is perhaps the most notable player still on the board. A four-star talent who ranks third in PA and 133rd nationally, Nelson made trips to Penn State on consecutive weekends in June, but he also took an OV to South Carolina later in the month. Miller has burst onto the scene recently for Penn State, as the Florida native also visited Penn State twice in June, along with stops at Virginia Tech and UCF. The four-star prospect attends Fernandina Beach High School. Bellamy, a three-star player from New Jersey’s Bergen Catholic, took OVs to Penn State and Notre Dame, as well as an unofficial trek to Rutgers, in June. With his decision looming this weekend, predictions indicate that Bellamy will opt for the Fighting Irish.

Safety

Commits: 1-2 (Tyrece Mills, (possibly) Mehki Flowers)

Projected spots remaining: 1-2

Notable targets: Keon Sabb, (possibly) Cristian Driver, Jordan Allen, Kevin Winston

Mills, from Lackawanna College, ranks as the second-best junior college player in the entire class. Flowers has the versatility to play either receiver or safety, or perhaps both. Regardless of his ultimate landing spot, the Nittany Lions will likely aim to add at least one more player at the position, as Sabb is the highest-rated player of all of the realistic targets for the Nittany Lions. Attending IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Sabb is originally from Glassboro, New Jersey. He’s a five-star talent, and ranks 22nd nationally. He took official visits to Penn State, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas A&M, and made an unofficial stop at Clemson. Oregon is the other team that Sabb listed as a finalist. Driver, who was also listed last week as a target at receiver, took an OV to Penn State in June, and his scheduled trip to Wisconsin was ultimately cancelled. The Argyle, Texas product is the son of former NFL wide receiver Donald Driver, who played under the guidance of James Franklin with the Green Bay Packers. Allen, a three-star talent from Lafayette, Louisiana, named Penn State among his top six schools in April. With the versatility to also potentially play cornerback, Allen plans to commit on July 17. Winston, from DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland, is down to the Nittany Lions and Terrapins. A three-star prospect, he officially visited both schools in June.

Special teams

Commits: 1 (Alex Bacchetta)

Projected spots remaining: None

Notable targets: None

Penn State nabbed perhaps the top punter in the entire country in Bacchetta, who hails from Georgia. After taking a kicker in 2021, the Nittany Lions will not pursue any other special teams players in this cycle.

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