You can hem and haw all you want about the fourth down and five, one-point losses to the Buckeyes, and struggling to get over the hump on the road, but one thing you can never take away from James FrankLion is his pure ruthlessness on the recruiting circuit. He is a magician at reeling in the talent and once again his Nittany Lions are a force to be reckoned with on the national stage as the Early Signing Day has come and gone. Penn State ended the day with another top 10 class.
We garnered pledges from as far south as Florida, as far west as Oregon and in our own backyard of State College. We also stole some major talent away from our nemesis in Michigan. All told, 16 high school seniors and two junior college transfers faxed in their letters of intent and made the commitment to spend the next four years in Happy Valley. There were no flips and a pleasant surprise as top five running back Noah Cain (IMG Academy) spurned the burnt orange of Texas and joined fellow RB commit Devyn Ford (Stafford, VA) to form as lethal a one-two backfield punch that would make even the likes of Alabama and Georgia envious. Speaking of, they represented the only two schools with a higher average ranking than Penn State as the day ended.
Michael Johnson (Eugene, OR) and Taquan Roberson (Wayne, NJ) come in as highly touted, athletic quarterbacks. Cadean Wallace (Princeton, NJ), Saleem Wormley (Smyrna, DE), and Lackawanna Junior College’s Anthony Whigan add immediate depth to the O-Line. Brenton Strange (Parkersburg, WV) is a top-ranked tight end and John Dunmore (Hollywood, FL) climbed the ranks as a senior at wideout.
On defense, Linebacker-U flexed its muscles as the nation’s top-ranked linebacker Brandon Smith (Mineral, VA) signed, as did Lance Dixon (West Bloomfield, MI). They both aim to carry on Penn State’s impressive linebacker tradition. The WildDogs add more firepower along the D-Line with commits from Adisa Isaac (Brooklyn, NY) and Hakeem Beamon (Richmond, VA). In the secondary, the Nittany Lions cleaned house as they received pledges from State College’s Keaton Ellis, Tyler Rudolph (Oakdale, CT), Marquis Wilson (Windsor, CT), Lackawanna’s Jaquon Brisker, and added a little star power with the addition of former Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker and current LB coach Joey Porter’s son, Joey Porter Jr. (West Allegheny, PA).
As mentioned, Penn State signed all their verbal commits on Wednesday and added Cain as a late surprise. They finished the day ranked 10th best class nationally, at No. 2 only behind Michigan in the Big Ten, and had an overall average bested by only ‘Bama and Georgia of the SEC. It marks year five out of six that James Franklin put together a top 15 class and comes on the heels of last year’s top five finish, although this year’s class actually has a higher per-player ranking, albeit smaller than the 23 that signed in 2017. Say what you will about the man if you’re the type to nit-pick over double-digit win seasons and annual New Year’s bowl bids, but there is no questioning the fact that he has a knack for bringing in talent. More importantly, he brings in kids that are the best fit for Penn State on the field and off as this class is littered with honor-students and young men who’ve made impacts in their community and will continue to do so as Nittany Lions in the future under his watch and guidance.