James Franklin and Penn State picked up two key quarterbacks at the end of this past recruiting cycle.
They are now in contention for another at the beginning of this one.
Jersey City quarterback Brandon Wimbush of St. Peter’s Prep has a Penn State scholarship offer and is expected to attend a recruiting “junior day” event this coming weekend in State College. In early January, he made it known that he hopes to make his college decision sooner than later, possibly around now.
He is a four-star recruit (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) who has listed his favorites as Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Miami and the Nittany Lions. Franklin’s staff, of course, knows him well from their time with the Commodores.
Last year, Wimbush led his team to the state title game as a first-year starter.
Could he be ready to pull the trigger after this weekend?
“He’s a dual threat kid who’s got a huge arm, a big-time arm,” said Brian Dohn, a national recruiting analyst with Scout.com. “The issue with Brandon is he has to prove his consistency throwing the ball. But he’s got a bunch of talent and all the tools.”
It will be worth watching as Franklin not only hopes to get an early boost to the 2015 recruiting class but also continue building depth at quarterback. When he took over, star sophomore-to-be Christian Hackenberg was the only scholarship QB on the roster.
Then, he quickly re-affirmed the commitment of early enrollee Michael O’Connor, a highly-regarded Canadian who most recently studied and played at the IMG Academy in Florida. A week after that, Virginia’s Trace McSorley joined on.
Now, Penn State opens the new recruiting cycle with a big meet-and-greet weekend, with Wimbush as one of the head-liners.
“I think the big thing about bringing a quarterback on campus now is that he’s supposed to be a leader, he is the leader of your (recruiting) class,” Dohn said. “This will give (the Penn State staff) an indication of what kind of person he is and what kind of leader he is. They’ll get to know him.”
Along with Wimbush, others expected to visit this weekend include two of the top juniors in Pennsylvania: Archbishop Wood offensive tackle Ryan Bates and Central Valley cornerback Jordan Whitehead.
Both are prestigious four-star recruits with Bates (6-5, 282) claiming offers from Notre Dame, Michigan and South Carolina, along with the Lions. Whitehead (5-10, 170) reports other offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Arkansas, Tennessee and Florida State.
“I’ll say this: If James Franklin wants to own Pennsylvania, you better get Ryan Bates because that kid is earmarked to Penn State,” Dohn said. “If you talk to people around the recruiting game, they all think that kid is going to Penn State.”
Whitehead, from Monaca in the WPIAL, is another of the nation’s top cornerbacks within a couple of hours of State College. John Reid of St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia is just as highly regarded, if not more so. He also is very interested in the Lions.
Franklin’s staff already has offered scholarships to some of the top 2015 prospects from coast to coast.