When the high school recruits finally put their pens to paper on Wednesday, 19 of them are expected to formally become Nittany Lions. Another five players already are in the fold, having enrolled at Penn State last month with the start of the spring semester.
"You have to like what you see," said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "The class was started very well by [former coach] Bill O'Brien, but to get some of the guys that he got down the stretch there, those are guys that were committed four-star kids. That's going to add to this somewhat depleted roster."
Farrell was referring to wide receiver Saeed Blacknall of Englishtown, N.J., who flipped his commitment from Rutgers, and Koa Farmer, a safety and linebacker from Sherman Oaks, Calif., who called off his commitment to California.
"He's a very intense, high-energy type of guy," Bob Lichtenfels, director of football operations for Preps.com, said of Franklin. "I've always felt Penn State could recruit nationally. It was undersold, I think, for a number of years. But I think he will be that type of guy who can do that. He's relentless and he's going to pursue the guys he wants to pursue."
On the eve of signing day, the Penn State recruiting class of 2014 is ranked 21st in the nation by three recruiting sites - Rivals, Scout, and 247 Sports. The Nittany Lions are ranked 22d by ESPN. Among Big Ten schools, the Lions are rated second by Scout and Rivals, and third by 247 Sports and ESPN.
The Nittany Lions have 20 scholarships for the new class, five more than the number that was part of the NCAA sanctions handed down in July 2012 before the NCAA eased the restriction last September. They can have 75 scholarship players on the 2014 roster, 10 below the maximum.
The five players who enrolled early counted against the 2013 total.
Franklin received eight oral commitments after taking over from O'Brien. Five of them came from players who had committed to Vanderbilt, where he spent three years as head coach.
Some purists frowned at Franklin's raid on his Vanderbilt commitments, but experts say that's just the way the game is played now.
"I have no issue with it," said Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN. "It's the reality of the process and it happens every week, every month, and every year with every staff in college football. If a staff has established a relationship with that prospect, naturally there's going to be an interest on both sides."
Penn State is loaded at wide receiver with five recruits, three of whom - Blacknall, De'Andre Thompkins of Swansboro, N.C., and Chris Godwin of Middletown, Del. - received multiple four-star accolades.
"I like Blacknall and Godwin a lot because they can stretch the field, and they can go over the middle," said Brian Dohn, national recruiting analyst for Scout. "I also like the Thompkins kid; he's got some really good bursts. I think they're getting more playmakers on the perimeter in this class."
The Nittany Lions lost three players after Franklin took over, including four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley of Brooklyn, N.Y. All in all, though, Franklin impressed.
"He hit the ground running and worked extremely hard in a short period of time," Luginbill said. "Considering the roster limitations and how careful you have to be with scholarships, I believe his staff has done a really nice job of closing for the 2014 class."
Penn State Class of 2014
PLAYER POS. HT. WT. SCHOOL (STATE)
Marcus Allen S 6-2 188 Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. (Md.)
Mark Allen RB 5-8 185 Dematha Catholic (Md.)
Troy Apke WR 6-2 175 Mount Lebanon (Pa.)
*Tarow Barney OT 6-1 290 Bambridge (Ga.)/
NW Miss. Comm. College
Noah Beh OT 6-5 290 Scranton Prep (Pa.)
Saeed Blacknall WR 6-3 210 Manalapan (N.J.)
Brendan Brosnan OT 6-6 275 Maine South (Ill.)
Jason Cabinda LB 6-1 215 Hunterdon Central (N.J.)
Christian Campbell S 6-2 180 Central (Ala.)
Koa Farmer S/LB 6-1 200 Notre Dame (Calif.)
Mike Gesicki TE 6-6 230 Southern Regional (N.J.)
Chris Godwin WR 6-2 200 Middletown (Del.)
Grant Haley CB 5-10 180 Lovett School (Ga.)
Trace McSorley QB 6-1 180 Briar Woods (Va.)
*Michael O'Connor QB 6-4 226 IMG Academy (Fla.)
Amani Oruwariye CB 6-1 175 Gaither (Fla.)
Troy Reeder LB 6-3 232 Salesianum (Del.)
Nick Scott WR 5-11 180 Fairfax (Va.)
Chance Sorrell OT 6-6 250 Middletown (Ohio)
Johnathan Thomas RB 5-11 210 St. John's Prep (Mass.)
*De'Andre Thompkins WR 5-11 171 Swansboro (N.C.)
*Antoine White DT 6-1 267 Millville (N.J.)
Daquan Worley CB 5-10 175 Coatesville (Pa.)
*Chasz Wright OT 6-7 268 Milford Academy (N.Y.)
*-enrolled at Penn State in January