The new Nittany Lions' coach is fresh off a Class of 2014 that inked just three Pennsylvania commitments. But with only a few weeks to work the state, a general lack of talent there and the lingering effects of NCAA sanctions, that was hardly surprising.
The 2015 cycle is a fresh start in more ways than one for the program in the Keystone State, though. We break down where Penn State stands with some of its top prospects as it attempts to "Dominate the State."
Who Has An Offer?
Despite a torrid pace to fill the Class of 2014, Franklin and company still managed to keep an eye toward the future in late January and early February. It may pay dividends down the road.
To date, we count eight verbal offers out to prospects in Pennsylvania:
RB Andre Robinson, Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt
RB Josh Adams, Warrington (Pa.) Central Bucks South
OT Sterling Jenkins, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Baldwin
OT Ryan Bates, Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood
DE Ryan Buchholz, Malvern (Pa.) Great Valley
MLB Jake Cooper, Warminster (Pa.) Jake Cooper
CB Jordan Whitehead, Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley
CB John Reid, Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joe's Prep
Names To Watch
QB Kyle Shurmur, Wyndmoor (Pa.) La Salle: After picking up his first Big Ten offer from Illinois in mid-January, Shurmur also heard from the Lions when defensive coordinator Bob Shoop swung by La Salle to learn more about him.
RB Saquon Barkley, Whitehall (Pa.): A Rutgers commit, Barkley flew under the radar to visit Penn State and Syracuse last fall. He was getting heavy interest from the last staff in State College, and it may carry over to this one despite his Scarlet Knights' pledge.
RB Nas Bonner, Philadelphia (Pa.) Imhotep Charter: Claiming six offers, Bonner carried 150 times for 1,158 yards and 15 scores in 2013. He's an early three-star, and could make his way onto State's radar regardless of what happens with Robinson.
DE Shareef Miller, Philadelphia (Pa.) Frankford: Though he hasn't heard from its new staff, Miller said he "like[s] Penn State a lot" in an interview with Scout in early January. He claims nine offers heading into the winter visit cycle.
LB Kevin Givens, Altoona (Pa.): A prospect that former safeties coach Anthony Midget saw in person last September, Givens has already heard from Penn State's new staff and is planning to attend its Junior Day Feb. 15. His latest visit was to Pittsburgh.
S Jazzee Stocker, Coatesville (Pa.): Teammate to Class of 2014 State commit Daquan Worley, Stocker roamed the secondary with the future Lion last fall and is having his name shot around recruiting circles because of it. Stocker intends to visit Penn State in the spring.
Breaking Down The Top 10
Breaking down the top 10 in Pennsylvania as it relates to Penn State shows that two of its members are already committed elsewhere, while another is yet to be offered.
1. OT Sterling Jenkins, Pittsburgh (Pa.) Baldwin
Where Penn State stands: The Lions put a fullcourt press on the state's top ranked player and nation's fifth best tackle in the days leading up to signing day, as Franklin, Shoop, offensive line coach Herb Hand and defensive recruiting coordinator Terry Smith all swung by the school to talk to Baldwin head coach Pete Wagner. State sits fine here, but it will be dogfight between it, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Michigan for Jenkins' services.
2. CB John Reid, Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joe's Prep
Where Penn State stands: During a Philadelphia trip, Franklin stopped at St. Joseph to check in on the four-star and top-ranked corner in the state. Reid didn't get to speak with him, but a spring trip is likely if Junior Day isn't. His high interest with the old staff should carry over to the new one.
3. RB Andre Robinson, Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt
Where Penn State stands: Ohio State wasted no time offering the state's top-ranked running back once new assistant Larry Johnson arrived from Penn State, and it immediately put the Buckeyes in the picture with Crusader alum and defensive end Noah Spence already in scarlet and gray. Penn State visited in the form of Franklin and running backs coach Charles Huff, and Robinson intends to come for Junior Day. PSU and OSU will be the major players, as will Notre Dame for the time being.
4. CB Jordan Whitehead, Monaca (Pa.) Central Valley
Where Penn State stands: The four-star doesn't talk often, but when he did with Scout in January, he confirmed the Lions new staff didn't just show up at Central Valley, but also that it confirmed his offer still stood. He was invited to Junior Day and accepted, and we'll take him at his word that Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Michigan State all stand on even ground at this point.
5. OG Jon Runyan Jr., Philadelphia (Pa.) St. Joe's Prep
Where Penn State stands: On the outside looking in, as Runyan was one of the earliest to commit in the state when he pledged to Michigan during his junior year. The son of former Philadelphia Eagle (and Wolverines) Jon Runyan Sr. has shown no indication of wavering, or Penn State interest, at this point.
6. RB Saquon Barkley, Whitehall (Pa.)
Where Penn State stands: Barkley is hardly considered a firm Rutgers commitment at this point, even if he says that pledge still stands. The four-star speedster does not publically comment on his recruitment often, and thus, we have yet to confirm if the Lions new staff has reached out.
7. OT Ryan Bates, Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood
Where Penn State stands: Bates has long listed Penn State and South Carolina as the two programs standing out most. With that said, it's hard not to think the Lions have a better than average shot at landing him. Teammate and linebacker Jake Cooper will no longer attend Junior Day due to wrestling commitments, and it's unclear if Bates will make the trip solo.
8. RB Josh Adams, Warrington (Pa.) Central Bucks South
Where Penn State stands: Another junior who has played his recruitment close to the vest thus far, Adams had a Penn State offer with the old staff and also has one from Rutgers. It's not clear where things stand between him and the Lions with the program under new direction.
9. MLB Jake Cooper, Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood
Where Penn State stands: Cooper long coveted a Nittany Lions offer and got it on National Signing Day when he spoke with Franklin. The three-star will make previously scheduled visits to see if anything catches his eye, but it's difficult to see him not ending up in blue and white.
10. Jazzee Stocker, Coatesville (Pa.)
Where Penn State stands: Stocker is interested in the program despite not yet possessing an offer. He tried to speak with the staff while in State College for a track meet two weekends back but their schedules didn't match up. He'll visit in late winter or the spring, and will undoubtedly have Worley in his ear if an offer presents itself.