Between the Lions Breaking down Penn State's latest recruiting class
Recruiting college football players, you may have heard, is an inexact science.
Educated guesses are as precise as it gets. Of course, given the apparently bottomless thirst for recruiting information, guesses are at least plentiful as they are educated.
So here's what we know, or think we know, or know we think, about Penn State's recruits from the class of 2013.
Richy Anderson: 5-11, 171 RB, Gov. Thomas John High, Frederick, Md.
Notes: January enrollee. Consensus three-star prospect. Other offers: Boston College, East Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers, Temple, Wake Forest, Virginia.
Son of Richie Anderson, who played at PSU from 1989-92 and 12 years in the NFL. Richy was mostly a receiver in high school. High prep team played for the state AAA title in 2011.
Brandon Bell: 6-1, 222 LB, Oakcrest High, Mays Landing, N.J.
Notes: Consensus three-star prospect. Other offers: Boston College, West Virginia, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Central Florida.
Considered among the top 20 LBs in the class by most gurus. Very productive two-way high school player who became a D-1 recruit with massive junior year: 117 tackles, 22 for loss, six sacks, and three fumble recoveries. Added 124 tackles as a senior.
As with many LBs, key to college transition will be ability to pass-cover and "play in space."
Adam Breneman: 6-4, 230 TE, Cedar Cliff High, Camp Hill.
Notes: January enrollee. Four- or five-star prospect, considered top TE in class and a perfect fit for O'Brien's use of the tight end. Offers: Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, et al. Missed senior season at Cedar Cliff with torn knee ligament.
Considered leader, organizer, cheerleader and "message coordinator" of recruiting class. Has become close friends with Christian Hackenberg via the recruiting process. Coached in high school by Jim Cantafio.
Curtis Cothran: 6-5, 235 DE, Council Rock North, Newtown.
Notes: Consensus three-star prospect. Offers from Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Maryland and Kent State. High-school pass-rush specialist, but some analysts say with his height, he could end up a college OL.
O'Brien: "You go into (his high) school, you look at Curtis, he's walking down the middle of the hallway, he's like the Pied Piper. The teachers love him, everybody is high-fiving him. …"
Parker Cothren: 6-5, 265 DT, Hazel Green High, Hazel Green, Ala.
Notes: Consensus three-star prospect. Offers from Purdue, Auburn and Georgia Tech. Played OT, DT and DE in high school, against excellent Alabama Class AAAAAA competition.
Fight on State's Greg Pickel: "Very quiet, soft-spoken kid, probably underrated because of all the talent in Alabama. He's the kind of kid who doesn't go backward.''
Tyler Ferguson: 6-3, 199 QB, College of the Sequoias, Bakersfield, Calif.
Notes: January enrollee. Other offers: Houston, Akron, Florida International. Only member of the class with sophomore eligibility after playing two JUCO seasons.
Arguably the favorite to open 2013 as starting QB given Hackenberg's likely redshirt. Threw for 2,614 yards and 22 TDs in 2012.
His recruiting out of high school was hurt when he missed most of senior year with a broken collarbone. Pro-style, drop-back QB.
Was a Houston commit for only one day in December before PSU, having lost JUCO QB Jake Waters to Kansas State, came calling.
Kasey Gaines: 5-10, 160 DB, Grayson High, Loganville, Ga.
Notes: Consensus two-star prospect. Offers from Harvard, Howard and VMI. Big junior year included 93 tackles at safety, making all-state and playing on Class AAAA state champ team. Clocked at 4.5 in the 40.
Given size, early enrollment may have helped. Not a high-profile recruit.
Christian Hackenberg: 6-3, 215 QB, Fork Union Military Academy, Palmyra, Va.
Notes: Offers from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, et al.
The key to the class, even though the "expert" consensus is slightly puzzling. Consensus top pro-style QB in class and No. 2 overall QB by ESPN, but other services give him "only" four stars, and he was not one of seven QBs on Parade All-American team, for what it's worth.
Tom Brady body type. Dazzled at elite national QB camps and all-star games. Attends a military school with a heavily structured environment.
DaeSean Hamilton: 6-1, 182 WR, Mountain View High, Fredericksburg, Va.
Notes: Offers from Miami, Michigan State, Boston College, Illinois, Duke, et al. Had 137 receptions in junior and senior high school seasons. Also played safety in high school, and could be an early contributor on specials teams, perhaps as a kick returner.
Pickel: "He can run enough to get deep, and he's big enough to go get the ball .. kind of a 'tweener,' in a good way. If he doesn't redshirt, he could have impact right away.''
Tanner Hartman: 6-5, 255 G, Lynchburg Christian Academy, Lynchburg, Va.
Notes: Offers from Maryland, Richmond and Temple. Considered a two- or three-star prospect. Not a high-profile recruit. Played on both sides of the ball in high school but is seen as an OL, probably a guard.
Will have to add bulk, but apparently has the frame to do it. His father, Tom Hartman, another massive linemen, is a Lebanon Catholic grad who played at Virginia Tech.
Zayd Issah: 6-3, 215 LB, Central Dauphin High, Harrisburg.
Notes: Offers from Oregon, Arizona State, Pitt, Iowa, Purdue, et al. Consensus three-star prospect, but considered to have considerable upside. Was a key piece on Central Dauphin's 2011 big-school state champ, and played RB, Wildcat QB, LB and DE in high school. Believed to have potential to add 30-40 pounds.
Originally committed to PSU pre-sanctions, decommitted in September while under reported heavy Oregon interest, and recommitted to PSU in December. Will play in Big 33 game.
Brendan Mahon: 6-4, 315 G, Randolph, Randolph, N.J.
Notes: Considered a three- or four-star recruit. Offers from Florida, Michigan, Miami, North Carolina, UCLA, West Virginia, et al. One of two members of the class, with DE Garrett Sickels, to play in U.S. Army All-American game.
More of a finished product than most high-school linemen. Has everything, according to scouts, except elite-level explosiveness.
Andrew Nelson: 6-5, 270 OT Hershey High, Hershey.
Notes: Consensus three-star prospect. Offers from Maryland, Missouri, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Temple, Missouri. Would likely have more offers had he not committed early and never wavered.
An almost certain redshirt in 2013, Nelson will have to get bigger and stronger. Only OL is the class seen as a tackle. Will play in Big 33 game.
O'Brien: "We think he's going to be a heck of a player. Now, I'm probably putting some pressure on him to come in here and do that. He's big, tall, rangy, he can bend, he's tough. He's a Penn State offensive lineman."
Neiko Robinson: 5-11, 170 DB, Northview (Fla.) High, Flomaton, Ala.
Notes: Two- or three-star prospect. Offers from Purdue, North Texas, Louisiana Tech and UAB.
Flomaton is near the Alabama/Florida border. Robinson transferred to neighboring Northview to play his senior year with childhood friends. He was thus first-team all-state in Alabama as a junior, and in Florida as a senior, after leading Northview to a Class A state title.
Was suspended for six games for throwing a punch is season opener of senior year, but the suspension was later reduced to four games. Returned three interceptions for TDs as a senior.
Garrett Sickels: 6-4, 238 DE, Red Bank Regional, Little Silver, N.J.
Notes: Consensus four-star prospect. Offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Florida, Stanford, et al. Made some HS All-America teams, ranks among top five DEs in the class nationally by the gurus, and might actually have been highest-recruited member of class.
Given the graduation of DEs Sean Stanley and Pete Massaro, Sickels might be able to play early, although enrolling in January would have helped.
Anthony Smith: 6-0, 184 DB, Valley Forge Military Academy, Randolph, N.J.
Notes: January enrollee. Consensus two-star prospect, although that's deceptive, since he spent the 2012 season at a military prep school and thus somewhat under the radar. Other offers from Central Connecticut State, Gardner-Webb, and Rhode Island.
Obviously not a high-profile recruit, but one of the DB signees is almost certainly going to have to play in 2013, at least on special teams. Given his early enrollment and comparative physical maturity, Smith could be that guy.
Jordan Smith: 5-11, 178 DB, H.D. Woodson High, Washington, D.C.
Notes: January enrollee. Consensus two-star recruit. Eclectic group of offers -- Colorado, Hawaii and Kansas.
Had 65 tackles as a high school sophomore at Archbishop Carroll High. Transferred for senior year to D.C. powerhouse Woodson, which had to forfeit a game and fired coach Greg Fuller for using an ineligible player (not Smith).
A childhood friend of graduated Penn State CB Stephon Morris, Smith was recruited by Maryland/D.C. dominator Larry Johnson.
Email sports columnist Mike Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.