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Let’s jump into our latest Penn State Nittany Lions Recruiting Question of the Day…
Early guesstimate, where does this recruiting class end up in final rankings? — Pat Ramano, via Facebook
Penn State reminded the college football community of its expanding recruiting prowess during recent days. The Nittany Lions secured five verbal commitments between Thursday and Monday, delivering an emphatic message to opponents near and far.
Pat, who proposed this question during our weekly Facebook Live Penn State recruiting show (8 p.m. Wednesdays here), is thinking long-term in the aftermath of this successful span. While college football class rankings can be fun to follow throughout the year — here at Land of 10 we use the 247Sports composite as a reference — they’re never ready for full assessment until National Signing Day in February.
The Nittany Lions finished fifth overall in the 2018 cycle. That marked the program’s best placement as far back as you can trace composite class rankings (2000). That group set a high bar for Franklin’s staff, and the latest developments prove Penn State is prepared to keep building with elite talent.
In terms of putting pieces in place, Penn State hasn’t operated at the same pace as the 2018 cycle, which featured pledges from 5-star prospects Justin Fields, Micah Parsons, Justin Shorter and Ricky Slade by February 2017. As we’ve addressed several times, alterations to the NCAA recruiting calendar has lessened the volume of “early” commitments from 2019 athletes across college football.
We’d been anticipating a commitment run in the second half of the spring and it occurred for the Nittany Lions during this last week. Penn State picked up pledges from No. 1 junior college safety Jaquan Brisker, top-three running back Devyn Ford, 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith and a pair of 4-star defensive backs — Tyler Rudolph and Marquis Wilson — during a five-day span.
As a result, Penn State soared in 2019 composite class rankings, rising from No. 42 last Thursday to No. 14 by Monday evening. The Nittany Lions leapfrogged programs such as Auburn, Florida, Southern Cal and Texas, and enjoyed an especially large jump among Big Ten teams.
Penn State climbed from 10th to third in conference class rankings, trailing Michigan (No. 1) and Ohio State (No. 2). Only the Buckeyes boast a better average prospect rating (92.79) than the Nittany Lions (91.86) in the Big Ten.
James Franklin has proven that his staff can consistently compete with three-time national champion Urban Meyer for premier high school players, and he clearly surpassed Jim Harbaugh in that department last cycle, though a bounce-back 2018 season would put the Wolverines in position to remain in contention for the conference’s top spot.
While it’s way too early to pinpoint where Penn State will land in these rankings on Signing Day, the prospects Franklin has prioritized indicate another wave of blue-chip pledges awaits the Nittany Lions. The results of tightly contested recruitments with targets including 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison, 5-star tackle Devontae Dobbs, 4-star tackle Xavier Truss, 4-star receiver John Metchie, 4-star defensive tackle Rodas Johnson and 4-star defensive backs Lewis Cine and Cam’Ron Kelly ultimately will tell the tale.
Penn State has signed a top-20 class in each of the last four cycles, featuring three top-15 finishes and the high mark it established in 2018. If the Nittany Lions claim consecutive top-10 classes, that would be another first-time achievement for the program. Based on how things are trending, it’s a realistic expectation.
Have a question about Penn State recruiting? Tweet us @Landof10PSU and we’ll try to answer it in a future mailbag. Check to see if your issue already was addressed by reading previous Penn State Recruiting Question of the Day here.