James Franklin made quite the showing at his first annual Signature Event last week as a part of National Signing Day.
All of Penn State’s recruits got their time in the spotlight as Franklin described why each of them will be an important member of the Nittany Lions’ squad in the coming years.
While there is little doubt Franklin has plenty to look forward to with the incoming recruiting class, the fact of the matter is most won’t even see the field this upcoming season.
The jump from high school to college not only requires a jump in the mental game, but requires that players be physically ready to play before they ever get in a game. That kind of transformation doesn’t happen over night even with some of the nation’s best prospects. So while Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class will certainly have an impact, it might not all happen during James Franklin’s first season at Penn State.
However, a handful of players will do their part in 2014 on both sides of the ball. Here are five players from Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class that could make an early splash.
1. (WR) Saeed Blacknall
With Allen Robinson no longer in the picture, the door is now wide open for players to step into his role. While Blacknall won’t fit that spot all on his own, he brings a lot of talent to the table. His chance to play early on will have a lot to do with his ability to pickup the playbook and take on all the physical aspects of the collegiate level. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds he shouldn’t have to make too much of an adjustment.
2. (TE) Mike Gesicki
Despite the tight end position being stocked full of starter material, the departure of Matt Lehman does open up an opportunity for Gesicki to find his place in the offense. No one knows how Franklin will use his tight ends, but there is simply too much talent at this position for it not to be an important aspect of the offense. It took awhile for Adam Breneman to find his role last season but with Lehman out of the picture, Gesicki might be able to see the field sooner than Breneman did. At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Gesicki isn’t lacking in the size department either.
3. (LB) Koa Farmer
Brandon Bell, Nyeem Wartman, Mike Hull, and Ben Kline should make up the initial rotation of linebackers in the post-Vanderlinden era but Farmer should be one of youngest Nittany Lions to play linebacker in 2014. Depth issues at linebacker could see a few other names break into the rotation but for now Farmer looks to be the best bet to sneak in at either linebacker position. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Farmer might need to bulk up a bit but adding 10-15 pounds in the offseason isn’t out of the question.
4. (OT) Chasz Wright
Penn State’s tackle position is wide open with the departure of a host of offensive linemen. Wright is the most likely to fill one of these roles. At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds Wright is good to go on the physical end and would have been the tallest lineman on Penn State’s offensive front last season by a full inch.
5. (S) Marcus Allen
With Jordan Lucas, Adrian Amos, and Trevor Williams still in the fold, Penn State isn’t without talent in the defensive back/corner position. But Allen could provide the group with a little more depth and skill. Allen won’t get a much better teaching tool than going up against Christian Hackenberg in practice so the summer will be key as Allen gets accustomed to whatever defense Bob Shoop puts in place. At 6-foot-2 and 188 pounds, Allen will probably bulk up a little bit in order to get closer to the 200 pound mark. Assuming he doesn’t loose much speed in the process he ought to be contributing early in the season.