Penn State is coming off a very good 2023 class, at least through the Early Signing Period, and are making some noise in the transfer portal and in 2024. Here’s the latest Farrell Files PSU edition as I take a look at wide receivers and more.
Finally some good news in the portal right? Losing Devin Carter from NC State to West Virginia was a blow but it’s how your respond that counts and the staff upgraded and worked around some issues to land WR Dante Cephas from Kent State and WR Malik McClain from Florida State. And each of these guys has more upside than Carter to me.
I’ve talked about Cephas before, but I’ll double down. He’s one of the best gets from the Group of Five. He has size, he’s a good route runner and he can make some amazing plays with his hands. I’m talking body control and one-handed grabs which will be huge for a new QB like Drew Allar who might need to be bailed out here and there. Cephas has WR1 potential for Penn State and is greatly needed with Parker Washington leaving. He plays bigger than listed and by all accounts he’s a great addition to a locker room. This was one of Penn State’s top targets and they fought hard to keep him interested and to clear academic hurdles.
The same can be said for McClain. He’s the big receiver they saw in Carter as a 6-4, 200 pounder and they jumped on him immediately as a late entry to the portal. Penn State beat South Carolina for him and he will be a massive red zone target. He’s a former big time recruit out of IMG who saw his role limited when Arizona State transfer Johnny Wilson and his 6-7 frame came to Tallahassee. He’s a great complement to Cephas who can work every aspect of the field and gets open with shiftiness as a 50/50 ball guy who again can help Allar by plucking the ball away on contested balls. These are two very good additions.
Moving to 2024 recruiting, adding LB Anthony Speca is a big deal. This is a big kid at 6-3 and 230 pounds, he was very meticulous about the process taking multiple visits to Notre Dame and Michigan before landing on Penn State as his choice. And he will continue efforts in the WPIAL as a Pittsburgh Central Catholic star. This kid is a hitter and future leader and this was a great recruiting job as they trailed for much of this recruitment.
Let’s continue the look at the 2023 class with the wide receivers. It’s good timing with the two portal commits. In a 22-player class Penn State only landed one wide receiver so the portal additions are huge and obviously expected. Carmelo Taylor from Virginia is a 4-star talent to me with elite speed and great hands, but the lack of size right now is a knock. He’s about 165 pounds on a 5-11 frame which is good and bad. It’s good as a slot because he’s like a water bug with his ability to change direction and be so short to cover. But he needs to add weight and strength to handle the rigors of college football so a year in the weight room could be needed. In 2024 Penn State will look to surround him with bigger outside receivers.