The difference between the first-round draft choice and the player who winds up a career college backup or Division II transfer isn't always evident when those players are 16- and 17-year-olds. That's the challenge for college coaches when it comes to recruiting at the game's highest level and one of the reasons recruiting has become as closely followed, observed and analyzed as much, in many cases, as the game itself.
Devon Still overcame injuries to become a second-round NFL draft pick.
Today, Lions247 takes a look at the Class of 2007 prospects Penn State extended offers to, where those prospects wound up, what sort of imprints they left on the Penn State program or other programs and where they are now.
Total offers: 51
Total commitments: 21
NFL Draft Picks: 10 (Tyrod Taylor (2011/6), Rob Gronkowski (2010/2), Derrick Morgan (2010/1), Malcolm Smith (2011/7), Stefen Wisniewski (2011/2), Devon Still (2012/2), Greg Little (2011/2), Nathan Stupar (2012/7), LeSean McCoy (2009/2), Doug Hogue (2011/5))
Prospects who signed with Penn State
Chris Colasanti, LB -- Solid player who was stuck behind more gifted players on the depth chart for most of his career. Was productive if not spectacular as a senior in 2010 despite playing through various minor injuries.
Chaz Powell, DB -- Terrific athlete with great speed who shuffled back and forth between defense and offense and made some of his biggest contributions on special teams. He might have been able to become a more polished cornerback had he spent more time there.
Stefen Wisniewski, OL -- Arguably the most productive player in the class. Started games in four different seasons at two different positions. Good technician who was durable and served as a role model for younger teammates both on and off the field.
Devon Still, DL -- Overcame a pair of serious injuries early in his career to become one of the nation's most dominant defensive linemen. Questions about his motor and desire to play every snap hurt his draft stock a bit but there was no questioning his talent.
Nick Sukay, DB -- A solid player who could make breaks on the ball as a safety and was adequate if not strong in run support. Good communicator who benefited from playing together with Drew Astorino and D'Anton Lynn for several seasons.
Andrew Dailey, LB -- A logjam at linebacker pushed him to the defensive backfield, where he was able to fill in solidly for an injury-plagued group as a redshirt junior in 2010. Passed up his final year of eligibility after some injury problems of own.
Nathan Stupar, LB -- Came to college as a standup defensive end and developed into a playmaking linebacker who could play the run and the pass. Late-round pick to the Raiders.
Kevion Latham, DE -- Never made much of an impact at Penn State and decided to forgo his final season of eligibility after picking up his degree.
Andrew Szczerba, TE -- Spent the early part of his career backing up Andrew Quarless and the latter part overcoming debilitating back injury. Costly drops and penalties sullied what would have otherwise been a productive senior season for him.
Josh Marks, OL -- Conditioning troubles spurred a quick exit from the program. He wound up at Pittsburgh but didn't last long on the Panthers' roster either.
Derek Moye, WR -- Lacked elite speed but still turned in plenty of big plays and was Penn State's top target for the last three seasons. Signed a RFA deal with the Dolphins.
Jon Ditto, WR -- Never quite found a home at linebacker, wideout or tight end at Penn State and decided to leave the team prior to the 2009 season.
Chima Okoli, DT/OL -- Found a home on the offensive line after two uneventful seasons on the defensive line and provided underrated and steady play at tackle.
Nerraw McCormack, OL -- A rare junior-college transfer to play for Joe Paterno, McCormack was pressed into action due to depth troubles on the line in 2009 and handled himself well.
J.B. Walton, OL -- Grade issues and a learning disability made it difficult for him to get his career on track and he left the team before the 2009 season, eventually winding up at Division II West Virginia Wesleyan.
Drew Astorino, DB -- Undersized but dogged safety who found his way onto the field as a redshirt freshmen and eventually developed into a multi-year starter and the leader of Penn State's secondary.
Stephfon Green, RB -- His terrific speed and willingness to take on contact made him a big-play threat but he was set back by a series of injuries and missed part of (and nearly his entire) senior season after some off-field troubles.
Ako Poti, OL -- Like McCormack, a juco transfer who provided some needed reps and steady play during the 2009 campaign.
Quinn Barham, OL -- Started his career on the interior and wound up at left tackle. Was outmatched against elite opponents but otherwise a reliable and efficient player and solid locker-room presence.
Joe Suhey, RB -- Fullback who specialized in the passing game played through injuries without complaint and served as a solid role player.
Ryan Breen, K/P -- Thought to be the heir apparent to Jeremy Boone but left the team in somewhat mysterious fashion during the winter of 2010, then resurfaced at Ohio Dominican University.
Prospects who committed/played elsewhere
Tyrod Taylor, QB (Virginia Tech) -- A three-year starter and the ACC Player of the Year in 2010, the versatile Taylor lived up to his considerable potential, leading the Hokies to an ACC Championship his senior season. He's currently Joe Flacco's backup with the Baltimore Ravens.
Kristofer O'Dowd, OL (Southern California) -- Wasted little time getting involved at USC, starting as a true freshman. Had some durability issues throughout his career and is currently searching for a pro team after being waived by the Cardinals and the Jets.
Rob Gronkowski, TE (Arizona) -- A starter and star for all three seasons with the Wildcats, he became a second-round selection of the Patriots in 2010 and by his second pro season had developed into arguably the league's top tight end.
Scotty Cooper, LB (Clemson) -- A reserve linebacker for three years, Cooper gave up football prior to his senior season in 2010 due to a recurring neck injury.
Duval Kamara, WR (Notre Dame) -- Had a solid start to his career with 32 catches as a true freshman but saw his production fall off over the next three seasons, dealing with both injuries and academic problems. He went undrafted in 2011.
Derrick Morgan, DE (Georgia Tech) -- A two-year starter at Georgia Tech, Morgan broke out as a junior in 2009, recording 12 sacks and earning ACC Defensive Player of the Year and All-America honors. The Tennessee Titans took him with the 16th overall pick of the 2010 draft before a torn ACL put a damper in his rookie season. He put up modest numbers (30 tackles, four sacks) last season.
Robert Hughes, RB (Notre Dame) -- Moved to fullback midway through his career in South Bend and put up average numbers. He joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent last year but was waived in November. Tampa Bay signed him in April.
Malcolm Smith, LB (Southern California) -- Was diagnosed midway through his college career with a rare disease called achalasia that hinders his chewing and swallowing and made it difficult for him to maintain playing weight, but nonetheless went on to become a late-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 and recorded 16 tackles and two forced fumbles as a rookie last year.
Lansford Watson, TE (Maryland) -- Was a reserve at Maryland until injuries slowed him down. He then transferred to Florida International.
Desmond Roberts, OL (N.C. State) -- Transferred to Fayetteville State in 2010 and finished out his career there after playing in just six games in Raleigh.
Donald Langley, DT (Tennessee/Texas Tech) -- Enrolled at Tennessee in January 2007, then went to junior college before settling in Lubbock, where he had 21 tackles in nine games as a senior last fall.
Greg Little, WR (North Carolina) -- Starred at UNC before he was suspended for his senior season for improper dealings with an agent. A second-round pick in the 2011 draft, he led the Cleveland Browns in receiving as a rookie last season.
Trinton Sturdivant, OL (Georgia) -- A freshman All-American in 2007, Sturdivant was productive when he was able to play. But he was forced to end his career in 2012 after three different ACL injuries.
Broderick Green, RB (Southern California/Arkansas) -- After showing promise but battling injuries with the Trojans he transferred to Arkansas in 2009 and spent two seasons as a reserve before tearing an ACL in April of 2011, keeping him off the field his final college season.
Devonte Campbell, TE (Maryland) -- Big, athletic target who has yet to produce for the Terps on the field, catching just five passes the last two seasons combined. He went to prep school in 2007 so he'll have one more college season to play.
Cedric Everson, DB (Iowa) -- Spent just one season in Iowa City, where he and a former teammate were charged with second-degree sexual abuse, before transferring to Alcorn State. The charges were reduced and he spent a week in jail last year.
Justin Trattou, DE (Florida) -- Started 31 games in four years in Gainesville, then joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2011, playing in six games as a rookie.
Diauntae Morrow, DB (Iowa/Toledo) -- Transferred to Toledo in 2009 and averaged 51 tackles over his final two seasons.
Tydreke Powell, DT (North Carolina) -- Inconsistent career kept him from being drafted but he signed a free-agent deal with the Vikings and is still on the roster heading into camp.
Ryan Houston, RB (North Carolina) -- Steadily improved his production during his first three seasons, then redshirted in 2010 while recovering from injuries. Went undrafted and was not signed as a free agent.
Weslye Saunders, DE (South Carolina) -- Was kicked off the Gamecocks' squad before his senior year in 2010 after lying to the NCAA about an inquiry into improper contact with agents. An undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, he caught four passes for the Steelers last season but will miss the first four games of 2012 for violating the league's substance policy.
Nick Jenkins, DT (Virginia) -- Steady if unspectacular player who started 36 of 37 games for the Cavaliers over his final three seasons, averaging 40 tackles per season during that span.
Devon Torrence, DB (Ohio State) -- Began his Ohio State career as a wide receiver before moving to corner, where he was a two-year starter. Undrafted in 2011, he signed with the Vikings, was released, then joined the Bengals' practice squad last season before being released again.
Jay Smith, WR (N.C. State) -- Role player until his breakthrough season in 2011, when he had 40 catches and four touchdowns. Undrafted and unlikely to play at the next level.
Taurian Washington, WR (Ohio State) -- Caught just eight passes during his career with the Buckeyes. Joined the AFL with the Orlando Predators this past winter and is currently with the Milwaukee Mustangs.
William Alvarez, OL (Virginia Tech) -- Transferred from Blacksburg after his redshirt freshman season and wound up at Division II West Liberty.
Maurice Williams, WR (Pittsburgh/Edinboro) -- Was academically ineligible for his sophomore season at Pitt and wound up transferring to Edinboro but never regained his eligibility. Signed with the Erie Explosion of the UIFL in 2011, then played for the Canton Cougars before joining the Cleveland Gladiators of the AFL.
Richard Muldrow, OL (Rutgers/Richmond) -- Transferred to Richmond in 2010 after failing to make an impact with Scarlet Knights. Earned a rookie tryout with the Raiders this past spring but did not make the squad.
LeSean McCoy, RB (Pittsburgh) -- One of the jewels of the class, McCoy left Pittsburgh after rushing for more than 2,700 yards and 37 touchdowns in just two seasons. Took over the Eagles' full-time workload in 2010 and earned his first Pro Bowl nod last season.
Doug Hogue, RB/LB (Syracuse) -- Switched from running back to linebacker in his third season at Syracuse and went on to become a fifth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2011. Poised to enter the season as one of the team's top backups.