Today, as the early National Letter of Intent signing day period kicks off, most — if not all — of the newest members of the Penn State recruiting class will sign on the dotted line, accepting a scholarship to play football for the Nittany Lions. For every player who does sign, I’ll be here to provide an in-depth scouting report. Here is my report on at defensive back with plenty of tools, Zakee Wheatley.
School: Archbishop Spalding HS (Severn, Md.)
Projected position: Safety
Rating: Four stars by Rivals.com and ESPN; Three stars by 247sports
Other offers: Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin.
Projection: Wheatley is the biggest upside player Penn State landed among defensive backs in this class. He has the size and long arms to play either safety or cornerback, and he was one of the better receivers in Maryland, too. He shows bursts of speed, and he’s a terrific athlete. He understands pass routes and gets his head around early enough to play the ball. Wheatley is the type of player who, if he reaches his potential, can be a difference-maker when it comes to forcing turnovers. The biggest issue might be how he’d play the run as a safety. He looks like more of a cover corner, but if Penn State wants to develop him at safety, where his skill set probably projects best, he’s going to need to get much stronger in the weight room. If he does, you’re looking at a multi-year starter and an explosive threat.
Donnie Collins has been a member of The Times-Tribune sports staff for nearly 20 years and has been the Penn State football beat writer for Times-Shamrock Newspapers since 2004. The Penn State Football Blog covers Nittany Lions, Big Ten and big-time college football news from Beaver Stadium to the practice field, the bowl game to National Letter of Intent Signing Day. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5368; @DonnieCollinsTT