If you want to win national championships, odds are you have a few players from Texas, Florida, and California on your team.
It makes sense the three most populated states in the U.S. would consistently churn out dozens more college football prospects than their neighbors, but when you look at the numbers, it’s not even close. During a typical recruiting cycle, Pennsylvania might have 50 players sign with Division I programs if it’s lucky, while each of the big three easily quadruple that figure annually.
Nick Saban’s NFL assembly line in Tuscaloosa certainly follows the recipe, helping Alabama finish with the No. 1 recruiting class seven years straight. There are currently 24 players on the Crimson Tide roster from Texas, Florida, and California. Penn State has two — Koa Farmer and Amani Oruwariye. But that number will grow to five when Trent Gordon, Isaiah Humphries, and Jordan Miner put pen to paper as soon as December’s new early signing period.
Freshman outside linebacker Brailyn Franklin is originally from Texas, but he transferred to Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Va., to finish out his prep career.
Miner, a four-star cornerback out of Tampa, became the 14th commit in Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class Thursday. Gordon and Humphries, both Lone Star State standouts, picked the Nittany Lions over scores of offers from across America a few months back.
Gordon, a three-star corner, emerged on Penn State’s radar in January once James Franklin and his staff realized it wasn’t the deepest year talent-wise for Mid-Atlantic defensive backs. The Manvel High product gave his verbal in late March, while Humphries, a three-star safety and Penn State legacy, had already been on board since New Year’s Eve.
His father, Leonard, was a Nittany Lion defensive back before being selected in the eighth round of the 1992 NFL Draft. He spent one season with the Indianapolis Colts. The younger Humphries, who plays his high school ball for Sachse, is considered the nation’s 28th-best safety prospect this cycle, according to 247Sports. He even wears his dad’s No. 23.
Penn State hasn’t landed a scholarship player from Texas since it signed kicker Anthony Fera (Houston) and offensive lineman Frank Figueroa (San Antonio) in 2009. Shutdown corner D’Anton Lynn (out of Celina in 2008) was the only other Texan to head north to Happy Valley since the turn of the century, when recruiting coverage started to ramp up.
Cornerbacks coach Terry Smith, a teammate of Leonard’s in the late 80s, early 90s, was the primary recruiter of record for both Gordon and Humphries. Smith has had a hand in the recruitment of nearly every member of Penn State’s secondary, showcasing the emphasis he and Franklin place on building lasting relationships.
Penn State is known for gobbling up talent within a six-hour drive of State College, but as the Nittany Lions continue to build toward their first national title since 1986, there’s a good chance we’ll see more players from Texas, Florida, and California don the black shoes and basic blues.