By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Penn State landed it's top recruit on Thursday afternoon with Dani Dennis-Sutton choosing the Nittany Lions over the likes of Alabama and Georgia, though he may have given fans a brief jolt of fear when he reached for the Georgia hat only to put it down and put on the PSU one.
Dennis-Sutton is currently the 50th overall player in the recruiting class and has been rising for the past year. He becomes the top-ranked player in Penn State's 2022 class.
Not only is the commitment important due to his talent and who they beat out, but DDS plays a position of need and represents the third of Penn State's success in its top overall targets. The Athletic's Audrey Synder wrote in late June that the Lions landing two of DDS, Nicholas Singleton, Ryan Brubaker, and locking in Drew Shelton would be huge and even just landing Dennis-Sutton would be major. While Brubaker chose South Carolina, James Franklin and Co. made out by getting Drew Shelton 107% locked in and Singleton and Dennis-Sutton on board.
The class can now make a real case for the best in school history, all after a 4-5 season in 2020.
In July 2020, Kaden Saunder committed to Penn State to set the groundwork for this class. This July, Alex Birchmeier, the top interior offensive lineman in 2023, committed and has laid a major stepping stone for that class.
Penn State's 2023 class could soon begin to resemble the 2022 class with a few blue-chip prospects in TE Mathias "Mega" Barnwell (who had previously committed and decommitted to the program) out of Virginia and OL Antonio Tripp out of Maryland remaining Penn State leans.
Alex Birchmeier has already begun his recruiting for the class. Barnwell and Tripp could become the Jerry Cross and Drew Shelton to Brichmeier's Kaden Saunders. The class would only need a defensive recruiter to fill the role of Ken Talley to be in a position to continue that strong peer recruitment path.
They've also gotten some of Pennsylvania's top prospects on campus already, including LB Ta'Mere Robinson, LB Josiah Trotter, DB Shawn Battle, and ATH/Basketball star Rodney Gallagher, so a strong in-state cycle remains a possibility.
None of this is to say that the staff should do nothing more with the 2022 class. In fact, the class isn't done yet as Penn State remains favorites for CB Cam Miller (July 26th), S Cristian Driver (July 29th), and S Kevin Winston Jr. (July 31st). They also remain in the hunt for WR Darrius Clemons among others.
Needless to say, adding players like that to this class would only help to make this perhaps the top recruiting class PSU has ever seen.
While the staff should remain in contact with key players like that, it may be time for them to begin to place more of an emphasis on their 2023 recruiting class and helping that along. Perhaps even the 2022 recruits could shift some of their focus there.
It seems so far away, but starting off strong is what allows for top recruiting classes and maintaining those classes year after year is going to be one of the best ways for Penn State to take the leap that they need.