Stacking Up Penn State’s Class of 2015

See how the Nittany Lions' latest group of prospects rates in various ways vs. other programs in the region and across the Big Ten.

While recruiting classes are often judged based on their single final ranking, there are many dimensions of a class that can reveal how a program performed in bringing in the next round of players. In regard to the Class of 2015, James Franklin and the Penn State staff had a Herculean performance, all things considered.

Sure, the NCAA sanctions that previously handcuffed the program were lifted. But considering how relatively late in the recruiting cycle this occurred, the Nittany Lion staff was impressive in having the ability to fill those openings with quality prospects.

Overall, Penn State ended up with Scout's No. 13 class nationally based on total points. In terms of average stars per prospects, the Nittany Lions were No. 10, tied with Ohio State, at 3.52.

Let's look at an array of cuts of PSU's most recent recruiting class.

Dominate the State

Pennsylvania DE Ryan Buchholtz

Franklin's staff made defending the homeland a priority out of the gate upon its arrival to Happy Valley. Upon his introduction as Penn State's new head man, Franklin made a statement that evolved into a battle cry, saying, "We are going to dominate the state."

During his introductory news conference, Franklin was asked if this statement was a direct shot at Pitt, to which he explained:

"When I say Pennsylvania, and when I say Penn State, that is the whole state," Franklin responded. "We will recruit every corner of this state, every school of this state, every neighborhood of this state. And when I say recruit, not only just the student-athletes, I mean the people of the great state of Pennsylvania. We will recruit everybody, and that is with tremendous respect for the University of Pittsburgh. But we are ... Penn State."

However, Franklin soon expanded his perceived borders of the state PSU was focused on dominating. In May of 2014, during a stop in Baltimore, he said, "I consider (Maryland) in-state. I consider New Jersey in-state. I know there are other schools around here, but you might as well shut them down.”

So just how well did Franklin do in “dominating the state?” Specific to those three regions he pointed to as priorities, here is how PSU did with regard to the Class for 2015:

11 commitments

Penn State landed 11 pledges from the home state, including the top three players in John Reid, Saquon Barkley and Andre Robinson. Overall the Lions landed seven of the top 10 Pennsylvania prospects and 10 of the top 20 in-state players. PSU was the only program to land more than one player in the Keystone State's top 10. As an aside, fellow in-state program Pitt had one top 10 PA player in its Class of 2015.

2 commitments

While PSU only grabbed two prospects from Maryland, those included the No. 1 player in the state in Kamonte Carter. Jonathan Holland was the No. 12 player in the state. As an aside, in-state program Maryland had two top 10 commitments from the Old Line State.

New Jersey
5 commitments

The Lions landed four of the top 10 in New Jersey in Juwan Johnson. Manny Bowen, Irvin Charles and Steven Gonzalez. PSU was the only program to land more than one player in the Garden State's top 10. As an aside, in-state program Rutgers had no commitments from NJ's top 10.


Penn State signee Jonathan Holland of Maryland

For years, Joe Paterno operated under the mantra of focusing on the 350-mile radius around Happy Valley to attract talent. The Class of 2015 largely followed this philosophy with 22 of 25 players hailing within that radius.

Looking across the Northeastern region:

Here is how the major programs rated (national ranking listed in parenthesis) by total points

1. Penn State (13)

2. West Virginia (30)

3. Virginia Tech (40)

4. Maryland (47)

5. Syracuse (49)

6. Rutgers (51)

7. Virginia (55)

8. Boston College (58)

9. Pitt (63)

10. Temple (93)

11. Connecticut (117)

Here is how the regional programs ranked by average stars per prospect

1. Penn State (3.52)

2. West Virginia (3.14)

3. Maryland (3.06)

4. Pittsburgh (3.0)

5. Virginia Tech (2.95)

6. Virginia (2.83)

7. Syracuse (2.77)

8. Boston College (2.72)

9. Rutgers (2.68)

10. Temple (2.26)

11. Connecticut (2.05)


Lion early enrollee Sterling Jenkins

Looking across the Big Ten, here is how the members ranked by total points

1. Ohio State (8)

2. Penn State (13)

3. Michigan State (17)

4. Wisconsin (31)

5. Nebraska (33)

6. Illinois (35)

7. Michigan (36)

8. Maryland (47)

9. Northwestern (48)

10. Iowa (50)

11. Rutgers

12. Minnesota (56)

13. Indiana (57)

14. Purdue (62)

Here is how the Big Ten programs ranked by average stars per prospect

1. Ohio State (3.52)

1. Penn State (3.52)

3. Michigan (3.50)

4. Michigan Stat (3.48)

5. Wisconsin (3.20)

6. Nebraska (3.10)

7. Maryland (3.06)

8. Illinois (2.88)

9. Northwestern (2.80)

10. Minnesota (2.79)

11. Iowa (2.76)

12. Indiana (2.73)

13. Rutgers (2.68)

14. Purdue (2.46)


PSU RB signee Saquon Barkley

One of the interesting recruiting views is how programs competed head-to-head for prospects. While there are a spectrum of unique factors related to each recruiting situation, here's a general look at how Penn State managed going head to head with major select programs across the region and conference. These numbers are related to prospects who received offers from each program and ultimately chose one of those two schools.

Select Regional Teams

vs. Pitt: 18-1 (95%)

vs. Virginia: 14-1 (93%)

vs. Virginia Tech: 5-3 (62%)

vs. West Virginia: 10-0 (100%)

Select Conference Teams

vs. Maryland: 11-1 (92%)

vs. Michigan: 6-2 (75%)

vs. Michigan State: 11-1 (92%)

vs. Nebraska: 9-1 (90%)

vs. Ohio State: 7-9 (44%)

vs. Rutgers: 12-1 (92%)

vs. Wisconsin: 6-1 (86%)

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