Overview: Penn State's Class of 2014

Despite coaching staff turnover, the Nittany Lions finished the drive to Signing Day as well as any program in the country.

By the time Wednesday is over, James Franklin will have officially signed his first recruiting class as Penn State's head coach. All things considered, it turned out just fine.

The foundation of PSU's 24-member class (as of this writing) was built by former head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff. But make no mistake: Franklin and his assistants went to every length imaginable to build on it. Despite still dealing with NCAA sanctions, it ended up being a top-25 group.

Here is my quick take on the class:


The Good

For all the work O'Brien did to put a quality class together, there is no denying that it appeared the former Lion leader was running out of steam when it came to adding more commitments. Franklin, aided by a trove of Vanderbilt commitments that desired to follow him north, had no problem filling out the class.

Penn State needed offensive tackles, and with everything said and done, the additions of Park Ridge (Ill.) Maine South three-star Brendan Brosnan and Middletown (Ohio) lineman Chance Sorrell were just what the doctor ordered. They join O'Brien commit and Scranton (Pa.) Prep tackle Noah Beh, as well as December pledge and early enrollee Chasz Wright to provide much needed tackle depth going forward.


The Bad

The writing was on the wall when O'Brien left, and longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson packed his bags for Columbus and Ohio State: the Lions weren't going to land Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley.

It's no secret that State needs defensive tackle depth, and the only providers of it in this class are Millville (N.J.) early enrollee Antoine White and juco transfer Tarow Barney. The new staff should be commended for trying to keep Holley, who ended up at Florida, and kicking the tires on uncommitted Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes four-star Derrick Nnadi. But ultimately, the Penn State Class of 2014 will get a negative grade from a quantity perspective when it comes to filling this need.


The Unexpected

At one point two years ago, former Penn State defensive coordinator John Butler lamented that the Lions didn't have enough defensive backs to effectively use a nickel package. They still may be a few short, but Franklin landed a "STAR" that should help.

By and large, Penn State and Koa Farmer knew little about each other until Franklin arrived. But all it took was an in-home visit from the staff and an official visit by the Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame three-star safety to flip him from California to the Lions.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder expects to be used as a "STAR" back in new defensive coordinator Bob Shoop's defense. In other words, he can be the safety/linebacker hybrid Penn State fans hoped Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway Michigan State commit Montae Nicholson would be.


Final Word

It's easy to nitpick at weaknesses (defensive tackle the most glaring) in this class, but considering Penn State lost its head coach on New Years Eve, added 24 new commits (as of this writing) and a new head coach between then and signing day, and is still working through scholarship limitations due to the sanctions, there is plenty to applaud, too.

When fax machines turn off and ink dries across the country, the Lions will have a top-25 class, an unexpected feat to ponder two months ago as O'Brien's efforts stalled and the ramifications of the sanctions continued to be seen.


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