There is a long way to go before college football's Class of 2016 signs. Barring an NCAA rule change, prospects will not be able to put pen to paper until Feb. 3 (unless, of course, they enroll early).
So taking a close look at team rankings at this time of year is admittedly not necessarily a true indicator of where programs will stand seven months from now. But it is fun, just the same, especially for Penn State fans.
Because with four commitments in the last week, the Nittany Lions have vaulted back into the top 10 of the national rankings. As of this writing (things can change by the minute in this area), James Franklin's program had the nation's ninth-best class, according to Scout.com.
The Nittany Lions' group of 14 commits ranked fourth in the Big Ten.
But zeroing in on the numbers reveals that in some ways, PSU was actually doing better than the basic national and conference numbers indicate.
Take the national rankings. When the top 10 was resorted by average player rating, PSU checked in at No. 7 (3.5 stars). In the Big Ten, the Lions had the second-best average player ranking, trailing only Ohio State (3.81).
Penn State's had four top 100 players in the fold. The Buckeyes (seven) were the only other Big Ten program with more than one. Likewise, PSU and OSU were the only conference programs with commits from five-star prospects, with one each.
Michigan State had the top-ranked class in the Big Ten (and second in the nation), thanks to a league-high (tied with Michigan) 20 commits. Nine were four-star prospects, the rest three-star. The average star rating was 3.45.
Then came Ohio State, with a strong mix of numbers (16 commits) and average star ranking.
Michigan is receiving a lot of attention under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, and ranked third in the Big Ten (and eighth nationally) as of this writing. However of the Wolverines’ 20 commits, five rated lower than three stars.
When Scout.com's national rankings were resorted by average player rating, Michigan checked in tied for No. 29 (3.1). The Wolverines had one top 100 player.
Looking across the recruiting site landscape, Penn State also checked in at No. 9 by Rivals and No. 8 by 247 Sports.