PSU Future Focus: 2016 Defense

PSU Future Focus: 2016 Defense

Our look to the Nittany Lions' recruiting future wraps up with a look at offers, interest and more on defense. Get the rundown.

Immediately upon arriving at Penn State, new coach James Franklin and his staff set out to find athleticism and talent to infuse into the Nittany Lion defense.

That mission hasn't changed in the Class of 2015, and it isn't going anywhere in the Class of 2016, either.

Our two-part look at the Lions' effort to date in the Class of 2016 wraps up with a rundown of offers, top targets and names dotting the radar below.


Defensive Line

Top Targets: Inside, there is no question five-star Scotch Plains, N.J., Scotch-Plains-Fanwood's Rashan Gary tops the tackle board. End is easy to pinpoint, as well. There, defensive line coach Sean Spencer and the rest of the defensive staff have seemingly picked out Maryland four-star's Rahshaun Smith and Shane Simmons, plus Tennessee four-star Emmit Gooden, as top-of-the-board prospects. Offers to the trio validate as much.

Who We're Watching: What you see is what you get so far at end, but a few more names dot the tackle picture. Baltimore Gilman School four-star Ellison Jordan turned in a strong June camp performance, but did not leave with an offer. Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt three-star Anthony Long continues to be a name to monitor, as is offered Virginia four-star Kyree Campbell. It's yet to be seen how much the Nittany Lions are in the picture with Campbell, though.


Linebacker

Top Targets: Yet again, linebacker will be a major focus in the Class of 2016. Outside, a pair of young standouts — Michigan four-star Daelin Hayes and Ohio four-star Brendan Ferns — lead the list of names to know. They are joined by offered Maryland four-star Keandre Jones outside. The picture is murkier inside, where the only offered prospect — Florida four-star Shaquille Quarterman — has already pledged to Miami.

Who We're Watching: Names will pop up and plans will play out over time inside, but outside, Ohio four-star Ethan Tucky has potential (as does fellow Ohioan and four-star Jonathon Cooper). The duo are joined by Forestville, Md., Bishop McNamara Oluwole Betiku (who has ties to former Lion LaVar Arrington) and Washington, D.C., Gonzaga's Kyle Taylor. None of the above mentioned here have offers.


Cornerback

Top Targets: Former defensive coordinator John Butler mentioned it many moons ago, but the focus hasn't changed since new DC Bob Shoop and the rest of Franklin's staff arrived: an infusion of talent, and speed, is needed in the secondary. Virginia Beach, Va., Ocean Lakes four-star Levonta Taylor and Old Tappan, N.J., four-star Jordan Fuller lead the way here.

Who We're Watching: Two prospects — Georgia four-star Mecole Hardman and Hampton, Va., Phoebus three-star Robbie Robinson — have offers but it is yet to be seen how much interest they have. Pittsburgh Central Catholic corner Damar Hamlin has not landed an offer yet but could down the road, and Penn State would be in great shape should it offer.


Safety

Top Targets: Lots of out-of-region prospects are in play here, but just one has an offer. That's Nacogdoches, Texas, four-star Brandon Jones. He likes Texas, though, and it's tough to see him ending up in blue and white — or anywhere out of the South, really.

Who We're Watching: Not much to look at just yet here, but regional prospects Tim Glass, a three-star in Virginia, and Isaiah Stallings, a three-star from North Carolina, have expressed interest.

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