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Better Know a Freshman: Greg Penn III

DMV area linebacker looks to be a contributor down the road

Recruiting, like the game Risk, is all about expanding your territory.

The best college football programs in America aren’t bound to silly things like geography. Instead they can go to virtually any high school in the country and cherry pick whatever player they please.

LSU has started to expand its footprint in recent years. Greg Penn III is one of the latest examples.

The Story

Hailing from Hyattsville, Md. (roughly half an hour northeast of Washington D.C.), LSU was one of the first schools to offer Penn a scholarship. By the time LSU offered—January 2019—he already had a whole host of offers from notable D1 programs like Florida, Penn State, Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

Then came an unofficial visit to Alabama which led to an offer and, as often the case in recruiting, another Bama vs. LSU battle ensued. But Penn was masterfully recruited by Bo Pelini—wait what the hell?

*checks 247*

Well I’ll be damned!

Anyway, ace recruiter Bo Pelini and the staff got a commitment from Penn in June of 2020 and he never wavered. He signed his letter of intent in December and enrolled in May.

The Numbers

247 Composite Ranking: ****

247 Composite Rating: .9173

The Film

Good frame and strong build. Carries 225 pounds like it is 210. Can easily add more weight and strength. Downhill player who tackles through the ballcarrier. Moves well laterally. Has speed to run to sideline. Sifts through traffic to locate ballcarrier. Physical and instinctive against run. Uses hands well to stay off blocks. Adept blitzer. Possesses closing speed. Needs work in pass coverage. Has to improve proper depth in zone coverage and show he can handle man responsibilities. Continued strength development needed. Length concerns. Multi-year starter at Top 20 program. Day 3 NFL draft pick.

Scouting courtesy of 247’s Brian Dohn

What stands out to me is how quick Penn despite his size. He’s listed at at 221 on LSU’s website but he moves so well you’d think he was 10 pounds lighter. There’s a lot of good film of him attacking downfield and moving laterally. But what you don’t really see much of is Penn dropping back in coverage and that may prevent him from being an every down linebacker whenever his time comes. To put it another way, as of now he looks more like a Jacob Phillips type of linebacker instead of a Patrick Queen. The difference? Phillips went toward the end of the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft while Queen went in the first. Penn will have to add to his toolbox if he wants to be the complete linebacker.

High End: Becomes an all-around linebacker, starts for two years, and works his way into a early third/late second round draft pick.

Low End: Contributes for a year or two but can’t be relied upon to drop into coverage on obvious passing situations. Maybe can’t crack the rotation and transfers. I think because COVID didn’t allow for kids to visit campuses last year you have to worry players that signed with a school so far from home are at a higher risk of entering the portal.

Realistic: Takes a redshirt this year and competes for reps in 2022 and beyond. Quite frankly I don’t think we see much of Penn in 2021 because of the amount of bodies ahead of him on the depth chart. Coach O has said LSU will almost certainly rotate four linebackers: Damone Clark, Mike Jones, Bugg Strong, and Jared Small. We haven’t even gotten to the sophomores like Josh White, Antoine Sampah, and Phillip Webb. So with eight or nine guys ahead of him I don’t think we’ll be having a serious Greg Penn conversation until 2022 at the earliest.