There definitely seems to be a new style when it comes to Penn State recruiting. One that’s taken James Franklin and company less than two weeks to unveil.
“One thing you’re seeing with Franklin is the definite SEC recruiting influence of going hard after everything,” said Brian Dohn, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com. “He will make sure you know he’s interested, and he will compete like crazy to recruit you. … He’s going after everyone he deems worthy to play at Penn State, and he’s going until he’s told, ‘No,’” definitively and repeatedly.
“Recruiting in the SEC is insane, it’s cutthroat. Whether the Northeast is ready for that, we’ll see.”
Take Monday’s efforts for Franklin and his new Penn State staff. Their rapidly-filling 2014 class received two more commitments from players formerly committed to them at Vanderbilt, five now in all.
The latest are dual-threat quarterback Trace McSorley and cornerback/tailback Grant Haley.
The overall numbers related to this class are tough to nail down. Do the Nittany Lions have 22 verbal commitments — or maybe only 21 because New Jersey linebacker verbal commit Donte Raymond has left? Do they have only two spots remaining to fill or is it more like three or four or more because of early enrollees or “grayshirt” possibilities?
Most recruits will make their commitments binding on Feb. 5, national signing day.
But until then, most anything goes. As in how nearly all of Penn State’s new assistant coaches are burning paths across the country in hopes of finishing this class as strongly as possible, no stones unturned.
All five of Penn State’s most recent verbal commitments had previously verbally pledged to Franklin and his staff at Vanderbilt. Those players are McSorley, Haley, defensive end Lloyd Tubman and offensive tackles Brendan Brosnan and Chance Sorrell.
And it still appears the Lions are pursuing several more highly-rated 2014 recruits down the stretch, including California outside linebacker Koa Farmer, Maryland offensive tackle Damian Prince, New Jersey receiver Saeed Blacknall, and Florida cornerbacks Lamont Simmons and Amani Oruwariye.
But how many does Penn State have space for?
The NCAA limits Penn State to 20 traditional commitments in this class. However, five members enrolled early last Monday, which makes their scholarships possible to count against the 2013 class. Can all of them count back, opening five more spots?
Or, could more members of this current class still opt to leave, opening up more space? Highly-rated defensive tackle Thomas Holley already switched his commitment to Florida and Maryland cornerback Troy Vincent, Jr. has switched to North Carolina State.
“The thing amazing to me about this is that they’re getting guys to commit, sight-unseen,” who haven’t visited Penn State, said Cory James, a recruiting analyst with 247Sports. “And they’re getting players … offensive linemen to commit and they didn’t even have a position coach in place.
“That, to me, shows how good Franklin is as a recruiter. I don’t think Joe Paterno could have done that or Bill O’Brien could have done that. To me, that’s amazing.
“People thought Coach O’Brien’s staff was a step up with recruiting all over the place. And they were way more visible on the recruiting trail,” James said. “With Franklin, granted, we haven’t seen results on the field yet. But, no question, (recruiting) is night and day between him and Obrien …”
The most recent pickups included another scholarship quarterback and much-needed speed in the defensive backfield.
Again, both are coming from Vanderbilt’s class — which is now down to nine commitments, according to Rivals.com.
McSorley is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback from Ashburn, Va. Last year he threw for 2,500 yards and 33 touchdowns and ran for another 745 yards and nine scores.
Despite a lack of size, he does have a strong, accurate arm and can throw well on the run, Dohn said.
However, “he doesn’t have a thick build and can he withstand the pounding he’ll take in the Big Ten? He’s talented and tremendous competitor … and threw the ball really well. But he’s also a good safety, a legit safety,” Dohn said. “That will always follow him when he’s at Penn State.
“He’s a versatile kid who gives you something big if (Christian) Hackenberg goes down with an injury. I really like the pick-up.”
Haley, the other Monday commit, is 5-10 and about 180 pounds and is known an explosive, fast cornerback, running back and returner. The Atlanta native also reported scholarship offers from Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Wisconsin.
“Haley is the do-everything guy,” James said, adding that he even played wildcat quarterback in high school. “A guy like Haley has more upside (than Vincent, Jr.). Haley is more athletic. Vincent, obviously, is more polished. … He could compete to play right away. Haley is a higher-ceiling guy but make take longer” to develop.