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5 Newcomers to Watch for the Penn State Nittany Lions in 2018

Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State Nittany Lions

Despite some changes on the coaching staff once again, James Franklin appears to have turned Penn State into a bit of a powerhouse when it comes to the recruiting game. In an effort to build the best possible roster, Franklin has worked through rebuilding and fixing depth concerns from the sanction phase and is now loading up the roster with as much quality depth across the board he possibly can.

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin

The Nittany Lions' 2018 recruiting class continues to bring in an assortment of talented players with plenty of potential to have a lasting impact in Happy Valley, and fans may not have to wait too long to see some of the top players in the newest crop jump in the fray to see what they can do.

Micah Parsons, DE

The top prize in Penn State’s recruiting haul is a Harrisburg native. Penn State locked down the commitment of Parsons, the nation’s fifth-ranked player according to 247Sports and the top weak-side defensive end in the nation and got him enrolled for the spring, giving him the opportunity to get in a full load of spring practices with the hope of breaking into the defensive line mix as early as this fall. He could be worked at linebacker too, giving him another opportunity to get on the field early.

Ricky Slade, RB

Saquon Barkley is leaving some mighty big shoes to fill this fall, but Penn State will have some talent at running back to look forward to moving forward. Joining Miles Sanders in the backfield will be new addition Slade, the top-ranked all-purpose back in the nation and the top-ranked player in the state of Virginia. The five-star talent will bring some versatility to the running game once he gets involved, and he may see some good playing time this fall alongside Sanders in some capacity.

Justin Shorter, WR

Penn State could stand to add a little more depth to the receiver position, and the addition of a five-star receiver out of New Jersey certainly should help. Shorter is a 6-foot-4 receiver that brings some decent size to the passing game, and he may get a chance to compete for some early playing time.

Jahan Dotson, WR

Another possibility for some early playing time at wide receiver will be Dotson, a four-star, in-state recruit. Smaller than Shorter, Dotson would likely be fit into a different role in the receiving game than his new teammate, but each could find roles that allow them to utilize their skills to help the team in different ways. Penn State could also have a use for one of their new receivers as a special teams returner. Throw Daniel George into that conversation as well.

Jordan Miner, CB

With Grant Haley and Christian Campbell graduating, Penn State has two starting jobs at cornerback up for grabs in 2018. Last year’s prized recruit, Lamont Wade, is expected to win one of those vacancies, but there is some youth at the position elsewhere to lead to some competition for the other role. Odds are Miner, a four-star recruit, won’t jump right into that saddle once he joins the program this summer, but keep an eye on his development along the way. If this is a position in need of an upgrade, Miner could get a chance to prove himself worthy of the job.

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.