National Signing Day has come and gone, the war room is closed, and the Signature Event is over. After all has been said and done, James Franklin and his brand new coaching staff has brought in 25 players from 15 different states to join the Nittany Lion football program for the 2014 season.
Here’s a breakdown of the 25 newest Nittany Lions:
OT Chasz Wright – Woodbridge, VA
3 stars, 6’7”, 300 lbs.
Wright is the first of three offensive linemen on the list. He held scholarship offers from Temple, NC State, and UConn, but ultimately chose Penn State. Franklin said yesterday at his press conference that offensive tackle was a point of focus in the recruiting class. He added that he looks for length and athleticism at the position and wanted to make sure that Christian Hackenberg will have solid protection up front in the coming years.
ATH Daquan Worley – Coatesville, PA
3 stars, 5’10”, 175 lbs.
Worley played cornerback and running back in high school. He rushed for more than 1,200 yards during his senior season, but tore his ACL and didn’t return for the rest of the year. Worley held offers from Pitt, Rutgers, and Georgia Tech, among other schools.
3 stars, 6’2”, 275 lbs.
White recorded 70 tackles and two interceptions during his senior year, and was named the Defensive Player of the year in his area. Despite being recruited by Vanderbilt and others, White committed to Penn State last summer and is enrolled early. At The Signature Event, Franklin said White will be “chasing guys all over the field in Ireland when we play Central Florida.”
4 stars, 6’0”, 170 lbs.
This wide receiver runs a 4.41 40-yard dash and was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game. Thompkins enrolled at Penn State this January. Thompkins held offers from Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Clemson, among others. Coach Josh Gattis called Thompkins “hard-working” at his Signing Day press conference yesterday, and said: “He comes into my office each and every day asking for playbook material; asking for routes. We’re really, really excited about him… He’s a guy that’s going to be able to help us out next year and compete for playing time.”
4 stars, 5’11”, 205 lbs.
Thomas, the top-ranked recruit out of Massachusetts, hurt his knee during his senior season but gained for 1,947 yards and 18 touchdowns during his junior year. Thomas was also recruited by Arkansas, Maryland, and other schools.
3 stars, 6’6”, 263 lbs.
Sorrell was originally committed to play for Franklin at Vanderbilt, but flipped his commitment in January. Sorrell received offers from many schools including West Virginia, Louisville, and Indiana.
3 stars, 5’11”, 180 lbs.
Scott rushed for 1,592 yards and scored 17 touchdowns during his senior season. Scott only had one additional offer, from Boston College, but received interest from Alabama, Virginia Tech, and others. Franklin explained yesterday that he wanted a diverse group of running backs in the class. Scott is more of a speedy back, especially compared to Thomas who is a bit of a bruiser.
4 stars, 6’3”, 232 lbs.
Reeder was originally recruited by North Carolina to play lacrosse, but switched to a football scholarship with Penn State last February. He was a first-team All-State linebacker, and has a 4.0 GPA in high school. He received many offers from schools such as Miami, Pitt, and others.
3 stars, 6’1”, 185 lbs.
Oruwariye was originally committed to play for Franklin at Vanderbilt before switching to Penn State last week. He recorded 47 tackles and four interceptions during his senior season. Oruwariye fills a hole at another position that Franklin said was stressed as the staff put together the 2014 recruiting class. The class includes four defensive backs, which Franklin said was a position that the team was relatively top heavy at in terms of age.
4 stars, 6’4″, 223 lbs.
O’Connor grew up in Canada, but played his senior season in Florida. He threw for 1,804 yards and 18 touchdowns in 10 games during his senior season. A straight-A student in high school, O’Connor is currently enrolled early at Penn State. Franklin said that O’Connor and his parents were waiting to speak with him when he arrived at Penn State and essentially interviewed him to determine if O’Connor would begin classes the following day. Suffice it to say, they were impressed and O’Connor stayed enrolled for the spring semester.
3 stars, 6’0”, 182 lbs.
McSorley played quarterback in high school, where he threw for 3,235 yards and 36 touchdowns during his senior year. McSorley was originally committed to Vanderbilt, but changed his commitment to Penn State last month. He joins Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as the only two quarterbacks to take their teams to four straight state championship games in Virginia state history. McSorley is a versatile player and although he likely won’t play quarterback in college, he can fill a number of roles on offense and could see some time in wildcat formations.
3 stars, 5’10”, 180 lbs.
Haley played both running back and cornerback in high school, but is expected to see more time on the defensive side of the ball. He had six interceptions during his senior year while leading his team to the state championship game. Haley committed to Vanderbilt originally, but flipped to Penn State last month.
WR Chris Godwin – Middletown, DE
4 stars, 6’2”, 192 lbs.
Godwin recorded 42 catches for 834 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior season, and earned offers from Michigan, Ohio State, and Stanford, among others. Godwin was ranked as the 159th best prospect on ESPN’s top 300 list. Gattis said Godwin has “great ball skills” and is “one of the most accomplished receivers to ever come out of the state of Delaware.”
4 stars, 6’5”, 236 lbs.
Gesicki was ranked as the top tight end in the country, and committed to Penn State last fall. He caught 33 passes for 530 yards and four touchdowns last season. Gesicki had offers from Ohio State, Bucknell, and others. He was invited to two national All-Star games in high school, the Under Armour All-American Game for football and the McDonalds All-American Game for basketball. Franklin repeatedly stressed throughout signing day that he’s never seen a player make both of those games. Whether or not that’s true, Gesicki is an impressive talent. Franklin added that he is undersized coming into college but that he expects him to grow into his body. He explained that he likes recruits who have “massive heads and big hands, arms, and feet” because they have what he refers to as high “growth potential.”
4 stars, 6’1”, 200 lbs.
Farmer played safety and linebacker, as well as wide receiver, in high school, and had offers from Wisconsin and Cal, as well as interest from Harvard and Yale, before committing to Penn State. Farmer scored 18 touchdowns on offense, and had 62 tackles and four interceptions on defense during his senior year. When he committed, Farmer said he plans to fulfill his dream of receiving a Ph.D. in pathology at Penn State. Franklin took a red-eye to California to meet with Farmer, but Andy Frank, who handles all scheduling, said on Wednesday that the coach can thankfully sleep on planes.
S Christian Campbell – Phenix City, AL
3 stars, 6’0”, 181 lbs.
Campbell is Penn State’s newest recruit, committing to the Nittany Lions just two days before Signing Day. He tallied 83 tackles and 3 interceptions during his junior year, and had offers from Missouri and Minnesota, among other schools.
3 stars, 6’3”, 240 lbs.
Cabinda played linebacker, where he was an all-league selection, and running back during his senior year. He rushed for 1,258 yards and 17 touchdowns, despite missing four games. Cabinda was the first player to send his National Letter of Intent to Penn State on Wendesday. Franklin said Penn State fans are “going to fall in love with” Cabinda.
3 stars, 6’5”, 240 lbs.
Brown played both linebacker and defensive end in high school, and surprised Penn State by committing just yesterday. Brown received offers from Arizona State and NC State, among others. He recorded 105 tackles and 3 sacks during his senior year, and scored nine touchdowns on offense. At his press conference, Franklin said that the team would most likely play Brown at defensive end.
OT Brendan Brosnan – Park Ridge, IL
3 stars, 6’6”, 274 lbs.
Brosnan was originally committed to play for Franklin at Vanderbilt, but switched to Penn State last month. He received offers from 19 schools, including Maryland and Virginia Tech.
4 stars, 6’3”, 205 lbs.
Blacknall was ranked the 3rd-best player in New Jersey in his class, and caught 52 passes for 707 yards and 15 touchdowns during his senior year. Blacknall received offers from Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, and other top schools, but ultimately chose the Nittany Lions last week. Coach Gattis said Blacknall is a player with “tremendous speed and athletic ability”.
When it came to discussing wide receivers, Franklin stated the obvious when explaining why the staff recruited so heavily at the position. “We have a quarterback that we feel really good about and it would be a shame if we didn’t surround him with talent and build more talent at tight end and wide receiver,” he said.
3 stars, 6’6”, 260 lbs.
Beh had offers from Pitt, Syracuse, and others before eventually committing to Penn State last summer. At the Signature Event, Franklin said he expects Beh to be “a monster” at the collegiate level. “We only had two scholarship offensive tackles in the program,” he added. “That was a priority for us, getting some linemen with length.”
DT Tarow Barney – Northwest Mississippi Community College (JC)
4 stars, 6’3”, 285 lbs.
Barney played in junior college last season, recording 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He held offers from Kansas State, Illinois, and Arizona State, among others.
3 stars, 6’2”, 175 lbs.
Apke had 40 catches for 728 yards and seven touchdowns last season, and played in the Big 33 Football Classic. He picked up offers from Pitt (his father’s alma mater), Georgia Tech, and others. Coach Gattis called Apke an “unbelievable” player and said: “He’s a guy that understands the game of football and I’m really excited about him.”
4 stars, 6’1”, 187 lbs.
Allen played in only 3 games before injuring his ankle during his senior year, but recorded 15 tackles and two fumble recoveries. He received offers from Pitt, Nebraska, and Clemson, among others, and was selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic.
RB Mark Allen – Hyattsville, MD (@theALLENshow)
3 stars, 5’7”, 190 lbs.
Allen was an All-State selection during his senior year despite tearing his ACL in 2012. As a junior, he rushed for 682 yards and four touchdowns. Allen received offers from Wake Forest, Maryland, and others.