Count National Signing Day 2014 as the first win in a new era of Penn State football.
Having spent a little less than one month at the helm of Penn State football, James Franklin has already landed his first victory as head coach – a top 25 recruiting class.
The fax machine inside Penn State’s ”war room” was busy producing 20 national letters of intent for Franklin’s inaugural recruiting class with the Nittany Lions. The 20 new commitments joined five early enrollees who have already arrived on campus and started classes, adding 25 players in total to the Penn State football family in the 2014 class:
WR De’Andre Thompkins (Swansboro, NC)
WR Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, NJ)
QB Michael O’Connor (Bradenton, FL)
WR Chris Godwin (Middletown, DE)
OLB Troy Reeder (Wilmington, DE)
DT Tarow Barney (Bainbridge, GA)
RB Jonathan Thomas (Danvers, MA)
WR Troy Apke (Pittsburgh, PA)
QB Trace McSorley (Ashburn, VA)
TE Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, NJ)
S Koa Farmer (Sherman Oaks, CA)
OT Noah Beh (Scranton, PA)
DB Daquan Worley (Coatesville, PA)
S Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, MD)
CB Grant Haley (Atlanta, GA)
RB Nick Scott (Fairfax, VA)
DT Antoine White (Millville, NJ)
OT Chasz Wright (Woodbridge, VA)
OT Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge, IL)
LB Jason Cabinda (Flemington, NJ)
DE Torrence Brown (Tuscaloosa, AL)
CB Amani Oruwariye (Tampa, FL)
RB Mark Allen (Hyattsville, MD)
S Christian Campbell (Phenix City, AL)
TE Chance Sorrell (Middletown, OH)
The class currently ranks 23rd according to both ESPN and Rivals.com and includes four ESPN 300 recruits (Thompkins, Blacknall, O’Connor and Godwin). The class breaks down with 14 commits on offense and 11 on defense.
A look at Penn State’s recruiting board at the end of National Signing Day 2014.
The class provides new offensive coordinator John Donovan as well as quarterback Christian Hackenberg with a couple new weapons on the outside. Those include adding receivers De’Andre Thompkins, Saeed Blacknall, Chris Godwin and Troy Apke to a group that will be replacing the record-setting and NFL-bound Allen Robinson as well as the teams second-leading receiver in Brandon Felder.
The 2014 class also adds Mike Gesicki to an already impressive group at tight end that includes Adam Breneman and Kyle Carter. Former coach Bill O’Brien recruited Gesicki heavily and felt he was the best tight end prospect in the country. Landing the athletic prospect also kept him away from Urban Meyer and rival Ohio State, which is always good.
Up front the Lions added a couple tackle recruits to an offensive line that Franlkin felt was a “glaring need” with Noah Beh and Brendan Brosnan joining early enrollee Chasz Wright. The trio creates much needed depth at the position that had just two scholarship players at the position following the season.
On defense the Nittany Lions were able to add a ton of depth with six recruits in the secondary alone. Koa Farmer, Marcus Allen and Christian Campbell come in at safety while Daquan Worley, Grant Haley, and Amani Oruwariye makeup the corners of the class. All six should figure to contribute to a Penn State secondary that was very thin at times last season.
Troy Reeder and Chance Sorrell add depth to an already deep linebacker core, with Reeder a possible successor for Mike Hull in the middle next year. At defensive line the Lions added a pass rusher in Torrence Brown, who had been committed to Southern Miss before signing with Penn State, and tackles Tarow Barney and Antoine White, who have both been committed for some time.
In the end it was a jam-packed month for James Franklin and his staff on the recruiting trail, but the result is a top-25 2014 recruiting class and a group of 25 players sure to make an impact in Happy Valley sooner rather than later.