Penn State recruiting: James Franklin talks early enrollees; Nittany Lions offer new QB target
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James Franklin provides update on Penn State’s early enrollees
Hours after concluding National Signing Day action with the addition of 4-star tackle Rasheed Walker, Penn State coach James Franklin joined media members for a phone conversation about his fifth recruiting class in Happy Valley. It didn’t take long for the topic of early enrollees to arise.
The Nittany Lions welcomed six signees to campus in January, including four 2017 all-state selections from Pennsylvania and a pair of Texas defensive backs. This group was among 22 high school seniors who sent in letters of intent during the Dec. 20-22 early signing period, setting the stage for Penn State to post its highest-ever finish (No. 5) in composite class rankings.
Now a month into their collegiate careers, these Nittany Lions newcomers are underway with classroom responsibilities and winter workouts.
“All those guys are really competitive and are working really hard and have been really supportive of one another and so far, so good,” Franklin said.
He took some time to assess the early impressions of each early enrollee.
Trent Gordon, cornerback
“Trent Gordon’s been a pleasant surprise. We had high expectations, and his first impression was probably higher than what we expected. He kind of blew us away in the first morning workout and was really competitive and really smooth and really efficient with his movements.”
Isaiah Humphries, safety
“Humphries, you know; what you would expect from a 4.0 student? Very mature, very smart, very analytical and right now, obviously is doing a great job in the morning workouts in terms of his approach and his willingness.”
Zack Kuntz, tight end
“The thing I’m probably surprised about with Kuntz is how strong he is. Typically when you’ve got a guy who is built like him at 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, it’s going to take them a long time to develop the strength and power needed to play, but I already see him packing it on and he came in stronger than we anticipated. So he’s already put on muscle mass. He’s already getting stronger in the weight room. We already knew he ran well because he ran so well in camp.”
Jesse Luketa, linebacker
“Luketa is a big, raw, athletic guy who is very competitive and [I’ve] been really impressed with him and how he’s approached everything. His body is already starting to change. He’s going to be a monster.”
Micah Parsons, linebacker
“Parsons is what we thought. He’s strong, he’s explosive, he’s fast, but again, all these guys are being very supportive of one another. They are asking a lot of questions. They have humbled themselves and the morning workouts typically do that, and I know the older guys have been impressed with them.”
Nick Tarburton, linebacker
“Tarburton is another big, strong guy that’s come in here. His body is already changing. I think he’s already lost 10, 15 pounds; is moving really well, is very competitive, is very conscientious. Been very, very impressed with him. … [Tarburton] creates flexibility with linebacker or defensive line, which is how he was recruited.”
Nittany Lions offer QB Taisun Phommachanh on Signing Day
Even as Penn State was putting the finishing touches on its 2018 class, the Nittany Lions managed to add another target to a growing 2019 recruiting board. Franklin extended an offer Wednesday to quarterback Taisun Phommachanh, who has rapidly emerged as one of the Northeast’s most coveted prospects.
Phommachanh, a 6-4, 186-pound junior at Avon Old Farms (Avon, Conn.), also received an offer from Florida State on Wednesday. His list of options has expanded to include Boston College, Iowa, Michigan, TCU and Virginia since Thanksgiving, and it’s approaching 20 universities.
Considered a 4-star recruit, he is listed No. 8 among dual-threat quarterbacks in 247Sports 2019 composite rankings. Penn State secured a verbal commitment from Taquan Roberson, the 12th-ranked dual-threat quarterback, in October.
Phommachanh performed at an elite level in 2017, dominating opponents as a thrower and a runner.
He completed 71 percent of pass attempts for 2,402 yards and 26 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps, tossing only 1 interception in 9 games. Phommachanh added 469 rushing yards and another 13 scores on the ground.
Penn State has offered six quarterback in the 2019 cycle, and offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne could be primed to add two players at the position next Signing Day. Garrett Shrader, who attends Charlotte (N.C.) Christian, is another notable target to keep tabs on.
Watch Phommachanh’s junior-season highlights here:
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