Big Monday is over at Penn State, and as expected, the Nittany Lions gained a pair of commitments in what is easily the biggest weekday haul in recent memory.
Head coach James Franklin and his staff landed pledges from Class of 2015 Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood linebacker Jake Cooper and junior Malvern (Pa.) Great Valley defensive end Ryan Buchholz, marking the third and fourth Pennsylvania natives to join the Lions' 2015 cycle. With six prospects total to date, PSU risen to 12th in Scout's recruiting rankings.
In Tuesday's edition of Frankly Speaking, we dive deeper into the commitments, detail a new walk-on, get into new offers visits on the horizon and more.
It wasn't exactly a surprise that Penn State landed Cooper and Buchholz. The former has long coveted a Penn State offer, dating back to the Bill O'Brien era, and the latter has long favored the Lions.
Cooper is a three-star inside linebacker, and told FOS Monday that linebackers coach Brent Pry told him that is where his home will be upon his arrival at University Park. Buchholz is a defensive end through and through, and the next question is whether Penn State will take more players at either position.
At end, Buchholz is joined by Maryland four-star Kamonte Carter, and it appears there is room for one more end in this class. At linebacker, there may be room for another interior linebacker, but help is mostly needed outside.
The duo brings a willing ability to help Penn State fill out the rest of its class, as both have already expressed their desire to join the program's other four commitments in spreading the blue and white word.
Phrases such as "next level" were brought about during the Bill O'Brien era, and James Franklin has been quick to promote "PSUUnrivaled" and "dominate the state" at just about every opportunity. Another phrase that has popped up on social media is "FOE15".
According to Cooper and Buchholz, it stands for "Family Over Everything in the Class of 2015," a promotion of the family mind-set many recruits have raved about after leaving University Park since Franklin arrived. Buchholz said it is the class motto, adding he and Cooper heard it often throughout their unofficial visit Monday.
Class of 2014 Mifflintown (Pa.) Juniata running back Neil Bodley was a frequent visitor to the Beaver Stadium sidelines in 2013, and he had built quite a relationship with O'Brien's staff in the process.
Bodley was plagued by a hamstring injury throughout his 2013 season, and it helped keep interest low from other programs. The senior worried that when Franklin arrived, his opportunity to walk on would vanish. He learned Monday that wasn't the case.
The running back visited University Park Monday and left as a walk-on commit, the first and only running back to join the fray in that capacity to date.
"I had a great visit," Bodley wrote in a message to FOS. "[I'm] really excited with what the new staff is about. Penn State has been my dream school for a long time, and I figure I have one life to pursue my dreams, so I might as well go big.
"The staff gave a great first impression. That was my first time meeting the new staff, and they are exactly the energetic and hard working people I want to be coached by. You can tell their goals are big right from the start."
Joining the 5-foot-10, 210-pound back in pledging to walk-on Monday was Pottstown (Pa.) Owen J. Roberts offensive tackle Steve Myers. It was not immediately clear whether the 6-f3, 285-pounder also visited campus.
FOS has predicted the Class of 2015 to have roughly 20 scholarships available, meaning 14 remain with six verbal commitments in the fold as of Monday night.
While some positions are easier to peg than others, Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt running back Andre Robinson told FOS he was informed Monday that the Lions' plan to take two running backs in this cycle, and one is already committed thanks to a pledge from Whitehall (Pa.) back Saquon Barkley. We've also learned from a source that Penn State intends to take two interior offensive linemen in this cycle.
Every coaching staff has its own favorites when it comes to stops on campus, and Franklin's appears to be the HUB-Robeson Center.
The student building at the heart of campus was where Cooper said he ate lunch while on a visit last weekend, and the group in attendance today returned there Monday for a bite to eat while touring campus.
Not surprisingly, Franklin was mobbed by photo requests and attention. According to Robinson, he took every photo and talked to any student who wished to chat. The junior four-star made a point of noting what that meant to him.
"That was my first time seeing all the students, and that was pretty cool," Robinson said. "All the students were coming up to Coach Franklin asking for his photo, and he didn't say no to anyone. He took photos with everyone that asked, and I thought very highly of that."
When they weren't eating, the itinerary was rather straight forward. The group spent most of the day at Lasch Building meeting and "hanging out," as Robinson put it, but they also toured campus and stopped by Beaver Stadium.
Frankly speaking, Penn State accomplished everything it wanted to, and more, with Robinson. It will be a dog fight with Ohio State, and he'll visit the Lions and Buckeyes on back to back days in March, but early returns give Penn State a lead after the visit.
Offering an Opportunity
Penn State has rarely taken a day off when it comes to sending out offers, and despite a busy day with recruits on campus, the Lions still sent offers out Monday night.
FOS has confirmed Penn State has offered Tampa (Fla.) Wharton receiver Auden Tate, Dade County (Fla.) Pasco tight end Bowman Archibald and River Ridge (La.) John Christian safety Hunter Dale. All three are juniors.
"I have been communicating with Penn State for a few weeks, but the offer was kind of a surprise," Archibald wrote in a text to FOS.
Franklin also communicated with Rulaski (Tenn.) Giles County offered corner Cameron Ordway, who called in Monday night. The junior said he was just touching base, adding a visit date for later in the year was discussed.
Though Penn State has yet to release its spring practice schedule, it seems likely that sessions will be held on both March 21 and 22 considering visitors are slated to be in town both days.
Robinson will visit March 21, while Montvale (N.J.) St. Joe's three-star offensive guard Tommy Hatton told FOS Monday he will visit the 22nd.
"[Offensive line] Coach [Herb] Hand told me to come up that day," Hatton said. "[Quarterbacks] Coach [Ricky] Rahne and [offensive coordinator John] Donovan said my film was impressive. Coach Rahne recruits my area, and Coach Donovan said he liked me at Vanderbilt."
We'd expect that visitors list to grow in the coming weeks, but the spring practice dates should be dotted with visitors throughout.