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Lions Look to the Future

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After three seasons of reduced scholarships and bowl bans, James Franklin has Penn State football back on track in the recruiting arena.

As the 2015 National Signing Day approached, the Nittany Lions touted the 13th ranked recruiting class nationally, according to Lions247.

According to ESPN.com, the Lions have 11 four-star recruits that will be joining the team for the 2015 campaign, two of whom have already enrolled in classes at Penn State.

Four-star offensive tackles Sterling Jenkins and Paris Palmer signed with the Nittany Lions and are enrolled in spring classes at University Park.

Saquon Barkley is one of the highlights of the class, as the four-star running back was ranked as the No. 1 back in Pennsylvania by Lions247 and No. 24 back in the country by ESPN.com. Commit Andre Robinson (above left) was also ranked by ESPN.com as the No. 30 running back in the country.

“I like the running backs,” Jeff Rice of Lions247 said. “They’re putting up some ridiculous numbers in high school ball. They’re also big impact recruits because they’re high-profile recruits in Pennsylvania.”

For an offensive line that struggled in 2014, help is on the horizon with the signing of Palmer and Jenkins, along with commitments from four-star tackle Ryan Bates and four-star guard Steven Gonzalez.

“I think Ryan Bates is a good prospect that we’ll probably see in his first couple of years making a contribution,” Rice said. “...They really don’t want to have the offensive linemen contribute right away but they might have to.”

To further assist quarterback Christian Hackenberg, the Lions received a commitment from Juwan Johnson, ESPN.com’s No. 24 wide receiver in the country. The 6-foot-5 Glassboro, New Jersey native is a player that Rice said could compliment the speed that the Lions have at the position and provides depth.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions add to a stout 2014 unit with four four-star recruits. ESPN.com four-star defensive end Jonathan Holland is ranked at No. 23 in the country, while No. 13 outside linebacker Manny Bowen could be the next stud at the position.

With former safeties Adrian Amos and Ryan Keiser gone in the defensive backfield, four-star cornerbacks John Reid and Garrett Taylor are two players who could see playing time in 2015.

“I’d see at least one of them making an impact on special teams if not the two-deep,” Rice said. “I think they’re going to have to move some guys from corner to safety among the returning players so I think there might me some opportunities at corner.”

Overall, though, Rice said Franklin’s successes came in fulfilling his promise, to “dominate the state” of Pennsylvania.

“You can say you’re going to dominate the state but when you get the both of the top running backs in the class in the state and both of the top offensive lineman in the state, that’s going to help a lot,” Rice said.

MOST IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Cornerbacks John Reid/Garrett Taylor. Either one could step in and be a third or fourth defensive back as current corners move Penn State Ryan Batesto safety.

FUTURE Star: Offensive tackle Ryan Bates (right). While Franklin’s staff will try to hold him back for as long as possible, Bates will eventually make an impact in the front five.

UNDER THE RADAR: Defensive end Kamonte Carter. A prospect who Rice said is very athletic with a great frame that could play defensive tackle as well.

Saquon Barkley RB (5-11, 190) Whitehall/Whitehall
Ryan Bates OL (6-5, 285) Warminster/Archbishop Wood Catholic
Manny Bowen LB (6-2, 205) Barnegat/Barnegat
Nick Bowers TE (6-4, 240) Kittanning/Kittanning HS
Ryan Buchholz DE (6-6, 230) Malvern/Great Valley
Kamonte Carter ATH (6-4, 230) Gaithersburg, MD/Gaithersburg
Irvin Charles WR (6-4, 205) Haddonfield, NJ/Paul VI
Jake Cooper LB (6-2, 225) Warminster/Archbishop Wood Catholic Penn State Sterling Jenkins
Kevin Givens LB (6-3, 225) Altoona/Altoona
Steven Gonzalez OL (6-4, 320) Union City, NJ/Union City
Jonathan Holland TE (6-3, 235) Potomac, MD/Bullis School
Sterling Jenkins OL (6-8, 308) Pittsburgh/Baldwin
Juwan Johnson WR (6-4, 205) Glassboro, NJ/Glassboro
Daiquan Kelly ATH (6-3, 200)Union City, NJ/Union City
Jarvis Miller DB (6-1, 195) West Suffield, CT/Suffield
Shareef Miller DE (6-4, 225) Philadelphia, PA/George Washington
Ayron Monroe DB (6-1, 195) Washington, DC/St. John's College HS
Paris Palmer OL (6-8, 284) Scranton, PA/Lackawanna C.C.
John Petrishen DB (6-2 195) Pittsburgh/Central Catholic
Brandon Polk WR (5-9, 150) Ashburn, VA/Briar Woods
John Reid DB (5-10, 175) Philadelphia/St. Joseph's
Andre Robinson RB (5-10, 210) Harrisburg/Bishop McDevitt
Tommy Stevens QB (6-3, 196) Indianapolis, IN/Decatur Central
Garrett Taylor DB (6-1, 185) Richmond, VA/St. Christopher's
Robert Windsor DE (6-5, 260) Fon Du Lac, WI/Fond Du Lac

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