Penn State’s 2017 recruiting class hadn’t even signed yet when the Nittany Lions had one of their most fruitful days for 2018.
A handful of high school juniors visited campus on Jan. 29, according to multiple recruiting databases. Four of them have already pledged to join the program.
The latest came on Thursday as Philadelphia-area linebacker Nick Tarburton went public with a verbal commitment to the Lions, announcing his decision on Twitter.
A three-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings, the Pennridge High School standout becomes the 11th member of Penn State’s 2018 class and the sixth from Pennsylvania.
He joins Virginia running back Ricky Slade and two other Keystone State linebackers — Mechanicsburg’s Charlie Katshir and Erie’s Jesse Luketa — who were on campus at the end of January and committed the following week.
Tarburton’s other scholarship offers include Louisville, Maryland, Michigan State, Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse.
Checking in at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, Tarburton plays middle linebacker for Pennridge, where he recorded 100 tackles in each of his last two seasons while improving his sack total to six as a junior.
Recruiting services also mention Tarburton as a potential defensive lineman at the next level.
That wouldn’t be out of line with Penn State’s general recruiting philosophy, which looks for players with big frames who could move up a different level of the defense.
Most recently that has happened with Jarvis Miller, a safety for most of his first two years on campus, the team now lists him on the roster as a linebacker for 2017. Defensive coordinator Brent Pry said prior to the Rose Bowl that Miller had practiced some with the linebackers last year.
Regardless of where Tarburton ends up by the end of his college career, recent history says that the Lions can use all the bodies they can get at linebacker.
Penn State hasn’t been able to redshirt any linebackers the last two years as Manny Bowen, Jake Cooper and Cam Brown were all forced into action because of injuries ahead of them.
Depth at the position remains a concern heading into 2017, though the Lions did just add three linebackers for 2017 in Ellis Brooks, Brelin Faison-Walden and Brailyn Franklin.
Since finishing off that class on Feb. 1, Penn State has continued to add for the 2018 class, which remains ranked at No. 1 in the country by multiple services at this very early juncture.
“I think we’re in a good position,” said Andy Frank, the program’s director of player personnel. “I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress. We have really smoothed the roster out in terms of, there aren’t a lot of holes right now. We’ll always be willing to keep it that way.
“We’re in a really good position. We have a really good team coming back next year. I do feel we are in a good spot.”