Thoughts on Jake Kiley

Penn State’s recruiting class grew by one Tuesday when New Hampton, N.H. athlete Jake Kiley verbally committed to the Nittany Lions, but the Penn State faithful isn’t exactly thrilled about it.

See, Kiley is only a two-star recruit according to Rivals.com and had only one other offer, from Division I-AA New Hampshire and fans on several message boards I’m a member of appear to be on the verge of ripping their hair out. Lack of top-flight competition and evidently less than stellar performances at camps (I’m basing that only on lack off offers) didn’t get New England schools like UConn or Boston College to offer, and neither did Big East cellar dweller Syracuse. So why did Penn State? Well, here’s what I saw on some film of Kiley, who will play somewhere in the defensive backfield at Penn State, that might shed some light into why (obviously these are just my opinion on Kiley; JoePa has yet to let me into his recruiting lair).

The beginning of Kiley’s highlight film shows him playing quarterback and he shows good agility and the ability to make quick moves in tight spaces. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but corners in PSU’s defense don’t really need it. Justin King had speed to burn (so did A.J. Wallace) and they were nothing special. The Nittany Lions play zone almost always and seem to value intelligence and instincts above other traits. Kiley won’t be asked to play on an island against a receiver. Something I noticed in his QB highlights were the repeated play-action fakes he made holding the ball out easily with one hand. That means he has big hands, all that much easier for him to knock down a pass with. He showed a lot toughness playing QB, repeatedly breaking tackles and forcing three, and sometimes four, defenders to bring him down in a read offense. Now, his defensive highlights were pretty solid, too. He was quick to break on the ball and wasn’t shy about delivering the big hit, driving through the receiver to knock the ball loose. He adds value as a blitzer who got to the quarterback and brought him down. He showed not only good hands on interceptions, but also good concentration to stay with tipped balls. He showed the ability to read receiver’s eyes to allow him to turn and find the ball just before it arrived while playing man-to-man coverage.

Listen, Kiley’s commitment isn’t going to make this class, but when you’re giving out 22-23 scholarships kids like him will always be part of a class. Kiley is a project. He’s a good athlete who plays against below average competition so he’ll have plenty of adjustments to make once he gets to Penn State. I think he has some upside and will most likely wind up playing safety because of his ability to hit and find the ball in the air.

Am I in love with this offer? I wouldn’t say that, but I’m not going to rant and rave about it until I’m blue in the face. It’s simple really, Penn State needs defensive backs and no player currently considering the Nittany Lions seems especially close to making a decision. So if there is a player who is ready to jump at a Penn State offer (partially because his only other offer is from a I-AA school) who has some upside I don’t see anything wrong with it, but that’s just me.

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