The Nittany Lions were able to check most the boxes on Early Signing Day back in December, but Penn State added four more on National Signing Day Wednesday. Three defensive players and one wide receiver rounded out the 2019 class. In his press conference in the middle of the day, James Franklin stated, “It’s hard to say that the 2019 class is finished.” He believes that the majority of the class is signed, but there are still a few targets that have not yet signed. The main one being four-star safety Nick Cross. Cross is currently committed to Florida State, but also considering Penn State and Maryland. Even without flipping Cross on National Signing Day, the four additions for the Nittany Lions were key. Let’s look at who they are.
Penn State Added Four More on NSD
Vilbert is a three-star strongside defensive end out of New Jersey. He joins fellow 2019 DE signees Hakeem Beamon and Adisa Isaac. As a senior, Vilbert recorded 45 tackles, 17 for loss, and nine sacks. In addition to 11 quarterback hurries. The 6 ft. 6 inch, 250 lb. end lead his team to its first New Jersey High School Non-Public Group 4 State Championship in 20 years as a senior. When asked about Vilbert Franklin praised the New Jersey product stating, He “reminds us a lot of Jayson Oweh..His ceiling is very high because it’s still all new to him.” Oweh played in just two games this past season as a freshman. He recorded four tackles, two of which for loss and two sacks.
Penn State’s next defensive signee of the day comes from Germany. The defensive tackle is 6 ft 5 inches and 270 lbs. Franklin describes Darkwa as very athletic and stated that he is a lot more advanced than they thought he was. Darkwa played for the Duesseldorf Panthers and helped guide his team to back-to-back appearances in the Junior Bowl. The Junior Bowl is the championship for the German Football League – Junior. Further, he was named MVP of the Junior Bowl in 2018.
Hardy was a late commit for the Nittany Lions, announcing Tuesday night after getting a late offer from the coaching staff. He is a three-star cornerback out of Penn Hills in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the fourth cornerback in the 2019 class, joining Keaton Ellis, Joey Porter Jr., and Marquis Wilson. Hardy tallied 22 touchdowns as a senior, helping lead his team to their first PIAA Class 5A State Championship since 1995. In the State Championship Hardy had four touchdowns, including a 100-yard interception return and an 84-yard kickoff return. His senior year performance is what garnered him an offer from Penn State.
The lone offensive player of the day was wide receiver TJ Jones. Jones is a three-star receiver out of Florida. It is a Florida duo for the 2019 wide receivers as Jones joins John Dunmore. Jones scored eight touchdowns his senior year. Totaling 42 catches for 833 yards.
Jones and Dunmore will work with new wide receiver coach Gerad Parker when they arrive on campus. Parker addressed the media today and spoke briefly on the position’s struggles catching the ball in 2018. He stated, “I think you approach catching the football the same way Steph Curry approaches shooting a 3. He doesn’t care if he misses. You can’t worry about failure.” Jones and Dunmore have a solid foundation to work off of coming out of high school. If they can keep that thought process in mind, there is no doubt the Florida duo will succeed in a young wide receiver group.
Where the 2019 class stands
After Penn State added four more on National Signing Day, 247sports moved the Nittany Lions’ recruiting class into 11th overall and 2nd in the Big Ten. There are 23 signees, 11 of which are already on campus as early enrollees. Therefore, while the Penn State squad will be young entering the 2019 season, the talent is there and the 2019 class is a nice build off of last year’s top 10 recruiting class.