Both approaches helped the Nittany Lions sign a top 25 class and reel in prospects at position of need. But some gaps still remain in the program's overall roster.
We break down where Penn State struck gold — and where it struck out — below.
Michael O'Connor was supposed to be the third scholarship quarterback on the roster, at least until Tyler Ferguson transferred to Louisville. It briefly put Penn State in a tough spot, as it would need good luck to redshirt O'Connor. With the addition of Briar Woods (Va.) Ashburn three-star signal caller Trace McSorley in January, however, that concern is no longer valid.
Bottom Line: State hit the mark here.
It's been said that three running backs — Mark Allen, Johnathan Thomas and Nick Scott — were too many in this cycle for Penn State. But each brings something different to the table, and with Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton both approaching expired eligibility, it's never a bad time to start building quality depth.
Bottom Line: In this instance, three is not a crowd.
A similar song has been sung at receiver, which sees DeAndre Thompkins, Troy Apke, Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall join the fold. But depth is drying up here, too, and Penn State has a good enough mix of slot and outside receivers coming in to make the number make sense.
Bottom Line: Versatility is the key with this group.
Only one was needed in this class, and Penn State got its long coveted man in New Jersey four-star Mike Gesicki. O'Brien outdueled Ohio State's Urban Meyer for Gesicki's services and Franklin talked him into sticking with PSU after the coaching change. While the tight end's blocking will need to improve, his mix of physicality and pass-catching ability are what the Lions need.
Bottom Line: The Lions got their man.
A position that had many wringing their hands early on, Penn State landed much-needed tackles (Chance Sorrell and Brendan Brosnan) late to join Scranton (Pa.) Prep's Noah Beh. It also helped that New York tackle Chasz Wright was able to enroll early and get right to work
Bottom Line: Needs were met. But are any of the young linemen ready to contribute soon?
This is one area where Penn State could have used more help and was hurt by the coaching change. The Lions are badly in need of depth with Kyle Baublitz opting to forego his final season of eligibility and DaQuan Jones graduating, yet they only landed three-star prospects Tarow Barney and Antoine White. It's a plus that both began classes in January, but another impact player — now Florida commit Thomas Holley — would have been beneficial. Holley flipped after the coaching change.
Bottom Line: Losing the four-star prospect Holley hurt.
Middle linebacker was not the need in this cycle, as was evidenced by Delaware three-star prospect Troy Reeder being told the day he committed that he would be the only interior linebacker taken in the cycle. The Lions did need outside help, though, and with California native Koa Farmer destined for the secondary, Penn State needed to add more than just New Jersey three-star recruit Jason Cabinda, but didn't.
Bottom Line: The Lions need at least one more OLB.
Chalk this category up as a win, even if the services of corner Daquan Worley may be put on hold for a year after an ACL tear in October. Maryland native Marcus Allen is a proven hitter and ball hawk, while Farmer does a little bit of everything. They're joined by corners Grant Haley, Christian Campbell, and Amani Oruwariye, a trio of three-star prospects who bring needed speed and range to the program, and offset the post-coaching change loss of Troy Vincent Jr.
Bottom Line: PSU did a good job of addressing needs here.
Rarely a focus of scholarships, the Lions will have the kicking competition they desire by adding Pennsylvania natives Troy Stivason, Nick Boumerhi, and Joe Julius, along with Florida product Jorge Powell to challenge incumbent place kicker Sam Ficken. State also landed a commitment from PA long snapper Kyle Vasey. All of the newcomers are invited walk-ons.
Bottom Line: The Lions got some help without spending any 'ships.