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Penn State Recruiting

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By now, plenty of Penn State fans have heard new head coach James Franklin's plan to “dominate the state” on the recruiting trail. So far, though, he has been displaying his ability to do that away from Pennsylvania.

Franklin, who comes to Happy Valley after turning around Vanderbilt's program, was heralded by many as a top-notch recruiter. He showed that much almost immediately after arriving at Penn State. Not even two days had passed since his introductory press conference when Franklin brought in former Vanderbilt commits Lloyd Tubman (DE) and Chance Sorrell (DT).

The fun did not stop there, though. Four more Vanderbilt recruits decided to follow Franklin to Penn State: tackle Brendan Brosnan, defensive back Grant Haley, quarterback Trace McSorley and defensive back Amani Oruwariye.

The late invasion went beyond Vanderbilt. Franklin also swiped four-star receiver Saeed Blacknall from Rutgers, standout athlete Koa Farmer, who backed out of his commitment to Calfornia, and defensive lineman Torrance Brown, who flipped from Southern Miss. Franklin and new assistant coach Terry Smith, the former Gateway High School head coach, worked hard to get Gateway's Montae Nicholson to de-commit from Michigan State, but Smith's former player kept his word with the Spartans.

Tubman's Penn State commitment last only two weeks, however, as he wound up changing his mind again and signing with Kentucky. Despite losing Tubman, Penn State convinced a total of nine players to change their commitments and sign with the Nittany Lions. Linebacker Jason Cabinda orginally committed to Syracuse, running back Johnathan Thomas de-committed from Maryland and offensive lineman Chasz Wright had previously given a verbal commitment to and then decommitted from both Temple and Connecticut.

All told, Franklin and former coach Bill O'Brien recruited 25 players in the 2014 class, some of whom will be counted on to make early impacts.

Gone this upcoming season will be some standout players, such as leading receiver Allen Robinson leading tackler linebacker Glenn Carson. Wide receiver Brandon Felder, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones and safety Malcom Willis are also moving on.

The Lions could still be lethal on offense without Robinson and Felder, though, if incoming freshmen step up early. The Lions added four-star receivers De'Andre Thompkins and Chris Godwin, as well as four-star tight end Mike Gesicki. Added to his current receiving corps, quarterback Christian Hackenberg has a young set of targets with the potential to be strong.

In addition, the Lions have commits spread across defense, all checking in at three stars. Defensive tackle Thomas Holley—probably the team’s top verbal commitment—changed his commitment to Florida after Lions defensive line coach Larry Johnson left Penn State for Ohio State. Even without Holley, however, Penn State's overall recruiting class was rated second in the Big Ten, behind only Ohio State.

The impact of the incoming class, of course, won't be known for sure until they take to the field in the blue and white, but there is still plenty for fans to feel excited about. Even if the new crop of freshmen don't pay off right away, Lions fans should easily be able to take solace in the fact that Franklin has already begun to make waves with recruits, and there will likely be more on the way.

Franklin's first recruiting class — which includes four-star quarterback Michael O'Connor (above), who reaffirmed his commitment to the program after Franklin's hire — has the potential to make some large contributions, sooner as well as later. Franklin has already turned heads with what he's done with recruiting, both by keeping Penn State commits on board with him and bringing in outside recruits at the same time.

If he can do that much now, there's no telling what Franklin can do with a full year of recruiting.

PENN STATE's 2014 RECRUITING CLASS (as of Feb. 4, 2014)
Marcus Allen, DB, Upper Marlboro, MD/Wise 6'1" 187 Penn State recruiting
Mark Allen, RB, Hyattsville, MD/DeMatha 5'7" 185
Troy Apke, WR, Mt. Lebanon, PA/Mt. Lebanon 6'2" 175
Tarow Barney, DE, Senatobia, MS/Northwest Mississippi C.C. 6'3" 285
Noah Beh, DE, Scranton, PA/Scranton Preparatory 6'7" 245
Saeed Blacknall, WR, Manalapan, NJ/Manalapan 6'3" 205
Brendan Brosnan, OL, Park Ridge, IL/Maine South 6'6" 274
Torrance Brown, DL, Tuscaloosa, AL/Tuscaloosa Academy 6'4" 230
Jason Cabinda, LB, Flemington, NJ/Hunterdon Central 6'1" 220
Christian Campbell, DB, Phenix City, AL/Central 6'1" 181
Koa Farmer, ATH, Sherman Oaks, CA/Notre Dame 6'2" 207
Mike Gesicki, TE, Manahawkin, NJ/Southern Regional 6'6" 215
Chris Godwin, WR, Middletown, DE/Middletown 6'2" 202
Grant Haley, DB, Atlanta, GA/Lovett 5'10" 180
Trace McSorley, ATH, Ashburn, VA/Briar Woods 6'0" 182
Michael O'Connor, QB, Bradenton, FL/IMG Academy 6'5" 223
Amani Oruwariye, DB, Tampa, FL/Gaither 6'1" 185 Penn State recruiting
Troy Reeder, LB, Wilmington, DE/Salesianum School 6'3" 232
Nick Scott, RB, Fairfax, VA/Fairfax 5'11" 180
Chance Sorrell, OL, Middletown, OH/Middletown 6'6" 263
Johnathan Thomas, RB, Danvers, MA/St. John's Prep 5'11" 215
De'Andre Thompkins, WR, Swansboro, NC/Swansboro 5'11" 172
Antoine White, DT, Millville, NJ/Millville 6'2" 267
Daquan Worley, DB, Coatesville, PA/Coatesville 5'10" 175
Chasz Wright, OL, New Berlin, NY/Milford Academy 6'7" 300

Editor Tony DeFazio contrinuted to this report.

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