What's more valuable to a college football program: A top-10 national recruit at a position at which the team is well stocked, or a prospect that is ranked in the top 10 at his position at a spot where the team really has need?
Penn State will be answering that question over the next three to five years.
The Nittany Lions went 1-for-3 on college football's national signing day with the remaining recruits it was pursuing.
On Wednesday morning, the Lions missed out on Olney, Md. Good Counsel's Jelani Jenkins, the nation's top outside linebacker prospect who instead picked Florida. However, the news got better in the afternoon, when Wilmington, Del. Concord's Justin Brown chose Penn State over Rutgers as the Lions continued to fill the void left by the graduation of three of the most prolific receivers in school history.
Penn State also finished second for Everett, Mass. defensive back Jim Noel, who told sources he was sticking with his verbal commitment to Boston College, although a reported bout with strep throat kept him from immediately sending the Eagles his letter-of-intent.
Brown's signing gave Penn State 27 recruits in this class, four of who are already enrolled.
PSU Class of 2009
Number of players: 27
Top-rated recruits: Pa. OT Eric Shrive, Va. QB Kevin Newsome, Del. WR Justin Brown, MD. CB Darrell Givens, N.J. S Gerald Hodge, N.J. LB Glenn Carson
National rankings: Scout.com - 10. Rivals.com - 25.
Want more: For complete thumbnails on Penn State's recruits, as well as those for Pitt, Notre Dame and West Virginia, please see Philip Cmor's blog at altoonamirror.com. A complete analysis of the Lions' class and more will appear in Sunday's Mirror.
In Brown, Penn State got Super Prep magazine's No. 7 wideout in the country and Scout.com's ninth-rated receiver. A 6-foot-3, 210-pounder with a 35-inch vertical leap, Brown clocked in with times of 4.46 and 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at a camp last year.
''I think the thing that stands out about him is his ability to go up and get the ball,'' Concord High School assistant coach Greg Mitchell, who coordinated much of Brown's recruitment, said. ''He reminds you somewhat of Larry Fitzgerald, although he's obviously not at that level yet. He catches the fade and the deep ball well. He can go up and get it over two or three defenders.''
Brown was first-team all-Delaware at two positions and made the third team at a third as a senior, when he caught 27 passes for 494 yards for a 7-3 team. Ten of his receptions went for touchdowns - including three of four catches in one game - and he also ran for a couple of scores.
''He always had the ability to make the big play. Of his 27 catches, 20 were highlight catches,'' Mitchell said.
Penn State graduates three of its top four all-time pass catchers this year in Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood. Brown in the most highly rated of six wide receivers the Lions recruited in response, and, along with New Jersey's Shawney Kersey and Maryland's Derrick Thomas, is considered the most likely to make a quick impact.
Brown said he was recruited to play the position Butler manned the last four years.
''Rutgers had the same thing,'' Brown said of the opportunity for early playing time, ''but Penn State had three openings.''
Rutgers' top receiver, Kenny Britt, declared for the NFL Draft, making Brown a recruiting priority for the Scarlet Knights. Brown had close to 30 scholarship offers, including Boston College, Iowa, South Carolina, Oregon, Purdue, Maryland and Virginia.
Brown had been to Penn State several times over the last two years and was long considered the Lions to lose. However, he struck up a close friendship with Rutgers quarterback recruit Tom Savage and didn't make a final decision until Tuesday night.
''When I went on all my visits, I got comfortable with Penn State. I didn't want to commit then, though, because it could have been just based on the emotions. I'm glad I waited,'' Brown said. ''It feels good now. I'm a little relieved.
''It definitely was close. It was tough.''
The only player Super Prep ranked ahead of Brown in the Mid-Atlantic region was Jenkins. Jenkins was recruited by a number of national powers, but, although he was tight-lipped about his recruiting, most believe Penn State finished second to Florida.
''I went down to visit. I felt comfortable with all the coaches, all the players. It was great weather,'' Jenkins said of his picking the Gators. ''We [the Jenkins family] listed a lot of things that we felt most important about. Florida jumped out on every one.''
While Jenkins is a big loss, Penn State's cupboard is far from bare at linebacker. The Lions still have Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman, Bani Gbadyu, Josh Hull, Michael Mauti and Nathan Stupar heading a long list of returning players at the position and have already received a commitment from top 2010 prospect Mike Hull.
''I would have been happy at Penn State,'' Jenkins said in an ESPN.com chat Wednesday, ''but the time was better at Florida. It was hard, but I think I will have a better chance of succeeding at Florida.''