Penn State Football Continues Midwestern Recruiting Hot Streak, Jumps 25 Spots In National Rankings
It’s been a big week for James Franklin and Penn State football, who have now picked up four new recruits in just under 24 hours.
Jaylen Reed, Zakee Wheatley, and the King twins — Kalen and Kobe — all joined the Nittany Lions’ 2021 recruiting class, boosting it into a top-15 national position. The team’s incoming crop of players was ranked No. 38 in the nation just 24 hours ago, and moving up to No. 13 represents a 25-spot increase for the team.
The team also jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 in the Big Ten’s recruiting rankings this cycle, but it wasn’t just in the rankings where Penn State improved. The Nittany Lions have attracted top-tier midwest talent from conference foes like Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin, further establishing a recruiting base in that part of the country.
Reed, a four-star commit from Detroit, chose Penn State over SEC powerhouse Georgia and his home-state Spartans, among other programs. The 6’0″ safety is the No. 8 player from Michigan this cycle, and he’s one of three top-15 Michigan recruits that have picked Penn State in the past 24 hours.
The talented safety retweeted this after the King brothers committed to Penn State on Friday afternoon. Sorry, Jim.
Kalen and Kobe King are also Detroit natives, and they preferred Penn State over Big Ten foes Michigan and Wisconsin. These schools traditionally have a strong recruiting presence in their region and a strong pull over recruits from their home areas, but once again the Nittany Lions were able to steal defensive talent.
Although Zakee Wheatley hails from Maryland, the four-star athlete picked Penn State over both Wisconsin and Michigan State, along with his home-state Terps. Wheatley’s commitment not only marks further recruiting dominance by Penn State in the DMV, but the continuation of the trend of highly sought-after recruits choosing Penn State instead of its midwestern competitors.
Class of 2020 recruits Enzo Jennings and Bryce Mostella also hailed from the great lake state, but this increase in the 2021 class has been a noticeable uptick, and a sign of recruiting dominance for Penn State. With a large chunk of the Big Ten located in the midwest, Penn State increasing its presence in the area is a great sign of progress for Franklin and the Nittany Lions.
Penn State noticeably leapfrogged Michigan in the Big Ten recruiting rankings in the past day, and it also left Michigan State way behind in the dust. Even Ohio State, which currently sits at the top of the 2021 recruiting rankings, hasn’t succeeded in stealing local talent from its arch-rival Michigan. Managing to attract recruits from previously-uncharted territories like Michigan is becoming the new normal for Penn State.
A solid 2020 class and now a jumpstart for Franklin’s 2021 class is a great sign of continued building for Penn State, especially thanks to its ability to steal blue-chip recruits from rivals.
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The Nittany Lions participated in a max-out lifting session to mark the end of winter workouts.
Gaines was committed to the Nittany Lions for nearly a year.
Sophomore forward Tessa Janecke also earned CHA Player of the Year and Forward of the Year distinctions.