Michigan and Penn State are clearly in different places as programs. It was evident on the field last month in the Wolverines 49-10 manhandling of the Nittany Lions.
Fox Sports traced the wide distance between the two, at least in part, to their senior classes – which are vastly different.
The article by Bruce Feldman pointed out that Michigan has 18 senior starters, who come from the 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes. Both classes came under former coach Brady Hoke, and the 2013 group which Jim Harbaugh inherited last year was a consensus top 10 class.
Penn State, Feldman points out, has just four senior starters — all of which come on defense — and no senior has accounted for an offensive yard this season for the Nittany Lions.
The Lions’ 2012 and 2013 classes were both limited because of NCAA sanctions placed against the school in 2012. Penn State had scholarship limitations, and 2016 is the first year the team is back at a full 85 scholarships after the sanctions were lifted in 2014.
Penn State’s 2012 and 2013 classes were both ranked outside the top 30, and the roster James Franklin had when he took over the Penn State job was not like the one Harbaugh got.
As the Nittany Lions look to get back to prominence, their 2017 class is ranked 22nd by 247 Sports. Meanwhile, the Wolverines are looking to reload with the 11th-ranked class.