Penn State Recruiting Goes Live

The dead period ends Thursday, meaning the Nittany Lions' new staff can hit the road for the first time. We map out where they may go, and where they should go.

If the cohesiveness of Penn State's Class of 2014 and the calming presence of former defensive line coach Larry Johnson weren't the keys to the program making it through the transition from Bill O'Brien to James Franklin with just one decommit, the NCAA dead period was.

Ironically, it was O'Brien who said in November he was in favor of the newly added dead period — in which recruits were not allowed to make official visits to schools and coaches could not visit the recruits — for it would give coaches and prospects more time with their families over the holidays.

Turns out, it did much more than that.

Without a doubt, programs across the country touched base with Penn State commitments during Johnson's time as interim head coach. They'd have been foolish not to, what with the program in a state of flux. More importantly, though, all they could do was call. No visits — one way or the other — were allowed. And that, as much as anything, kept Penn State's class together.

That temporary halt on in-person contact ends Thursday, when the dead period concludes and coaches are allowed back on the road. If you don't think assistants and head coaches countrywide will be waiting for the first bell to ring at some of the high school's Penn State commits call home, think again. But for many, it won't matter.

Franklin has made contact with a majority of the Lions 2014 commits, and don't be surprised if he stops in at their high schools in the coming days. Furthermore, despite the paperwork trail being long to approve new staff members, expect that to be done by the weekend, too. The Lions can't afford for it not to be, as three weeks is all that separates recruits in the 2014 cycle from being commitments, not verbal commitments.

With that in mind, we take a look at where Penn State's recruiting efforts could be focused under the new regime.

Recruiting Their Own

By and large, Franklin has contacted most of the recruits in Penn State's Class of 2014 by phone. The next step is meeting them face to face, either at school or in-home. The latter would be preferred by most, considering it's easier for the entire family to meet the new head coach.

Franklin has already told Scranton (Pa.) Prep tackle Noah Beh that he will be out to see him, and a trip around the Washington D.C. beltway and surrounding areas could knock out DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) back Mark Allen, Wise High (Upper Marlboro, Md.) safety Marcus Allen, Gilman School (Baltimore, Md.) safety Troy Vincent Jr. and Fairfax (Va.) high back Nick Scott.

Regardless of how he maps it out, expect the new head coach to touch base with as many commits as he can by early next week.

Hitting the Major Roadways

Regardless of whether Franklin and his staff hits Rout 322 or Interstate 80 to get out of State College, it will be important. To dominate the state, they must see the state.

One thing O'Brien did very well was reach out to Pennsylvania coaches and inform them of not only what the program had to offer, but what it was looking for in terms of walk-ons. The difference for Franklin, of course, is that he is working on filling a class three weeks before signing day.

Numerous Pennsylvania recruits have told Fight On State they look forward to meeting the new leader, and high school coaches have expressed the same sentiments as well. Prior to coming north, Franklin and his staff had shown interest in Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) tackle Ryan Bates, Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.) end Ryan Buchholz, and La Salle (Wyndmoor, Pa.) quarterback Kyle Shurmur while at Vanderbilt. Bates is the pick of many to be one of the first commits to the Lions' Class of 2015, and nothing should change there as it relates to his interest. Don't be surprised if priority is given to Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt back Andre Robinson, who is arguably on the cusp of gaining national exposure.

Mapping it Out

Following this weekend, Penn State will do plenty of recruiting in the second to last week before signing day. Then, it will do some hosting.

Multiple commits and recruits have informed Penn State they are targeting a visit for the weekend of Jan. 24, and if it draws the crowd expected, the weekend could outdraw, or at least outperform, the Lions official visit weekend in early December.

Tampa (Fla.) Gaither corner Amani Oruwariye has informed Fight On State that he plans to visit Jan. 24, and Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame High outside linebacker Koa Farmer is contemplating a visit, too, after receiving an offer from Penn State Wednesday night.

Of course, getting recruits to campus is a big part of the game. But so, too, is getting to high school campuses.

Outside of the normal Penn State recruiting grounds in the Mid-Atlantic, Franklin and his staff are likely to stop in some areas unfamiliar to blue and white supporters. At Vanderbilt, offers to Class of 2015 prospects stretched from California to Florida to Washington D.C., and if earlier returns are any indication, State will try to establish a presence in both the Midwest — namely Chicago and other parts of Illinois — and also Atlanta and surrounding areas in Georgia.

Hires have yet to be made official, but expected incoming receivers coach Josh Gattis handled the Virginias at Vanderbilt, and he's likely to return there. Expected defensive coordinator Bob Shoop has ties to the Northeast, and expected quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne began his career at Kansas State and has contacts in the part of the country.

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