SANCTIONS LIFTED: Recruiting Impact

What exactly does the NCAA's decision to lift scholarship sanctions mean to the Penn State football program?

Penn State's Class of 2015 already ranks among the largest in the country.

As of Monday, it can get even bigger.

That's because the NCAA has dropped all scholarship sanctions against the program stemming from the Sandusky scandal. James Franklin and his staff can now have a full complement of 85 scholarship players for the 2015 season (it was only allowed 75 for this year and was supposed to be limited to 80 for '15).

“We had been hearing rumors about the sanctions being lifted, but now it actually happening is a big relief,” Penn State Class of 2015 RB pledge Andre Robinson wrote in a text message to FOS. “It'll be great in recruiting. I know in my class they had started to turn guys down because of a lack of scholarships.”

PSU's postseason ban was also lifted.

“As for the bowl games, that's awesome,” Robinson said. “Especially for the guys there now, who were punished for what happened when they weren't there.”

So what will Penn State -- and Franklin -- do with those extra scholarship spots? We break it down below.


Penn State is getting scholarships back. That is true.

Any belief that Penn State's class will grow exponentially in this cycle, though, is a bit premature.

As things stand now, the Lions have 19 verbal commitments for the Class of 2015. While the NCAA had previously cleared them to sign a full complement of 25 players for the Class of 2015, that figured to be impacted by the overall roster limit of 80 scholarships.

With 61 scholarship players slated to return for the '15 season, Franklin and company had effectively hit their limit (unless certain returning players were asked to move on).

Now, even if all scholarship players return, there is more room for the Class of 2015 to grow. The question is whether the staff opts to spend them now or hold on to them for later.

Our early read? PSU will look for the pieces that fit best, much like Bill O'Brien and his staff did a year ago when the NCAA gave back some scholarships. But it won't take players just to take them in this cycle. Count on that.


Who are some of those players who may fit?

Pittsburgh Central Catholic safety Johnny Petrishen immediately comes to mind. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior has numerous FBS offers, and Lion assistant Terry Smith wasted no time reaching out to him Sept. 1.

In the trenches, Virginia four-star Matthew Burrell remains a prime target. But PSU has kept its eye on multiple linemen for some time, and one who immediately jumps out as a guy that could get revived attention is New York three-star tackle Austrian Robinson. The Lions could also make another run at Ohio three-star Rob Dowdy, who left a summer visit to PSU without an offer and committed to Pittsburgh.

Linebacker is a spot that could see increased attention, as well. But names need to hit the radar and be evaluated before any movement happens at that position of need.

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