It's good to be back. With real life getting in the way, it's been quite awhile since I have been able to write a full-sized Roundup. The one positive of that is that I've had plenty of time to plan out this one, so I promise it'll be good. Seeing as I don't think there is anyone who comes to BSD to read Roundups and only Roundups, I don't think I need to go into much detail about the fact that there will be a different, even more bald man roaming our sidelines for the foreseeable future. I'm currently in the process of trying to set up a Q&A with someone from Anchor of Gold (the Vandy SBN site) to get a little insight into what they thought was the key behind James Franklin as a recruiter, so be on the lookout for that as well. That's enough introduction for now, so let's jump into the gooey, creamy center of this chocolate bar of recruiting goodness.
Final 247 Rankings Out
247Sports released its final updated Top 247 for the 2014 class the other day. While it's certainly an interesting list to look at, especially in terms of seeing which players dropped and which rose (If you'll remember, Mike Gesicki once jumped an absurd 200-something spots in one update), I'm here to outline the things you need to care about most. Here are the current Penn State commits, their spot on the Final 247, and the jumps they made from the last list update.
Mike Gesicki: #58 (6 spots down from the last list)
De'Andre Thompkins: #163 (11 spots down from the last list, and one spot above former PSU target Dravon Henry)
Chris Godwin: #206 (30 spots up from the last list)
Lloyd Tubman: #225 (5 spots down from the last list)
Four players is a more than solid showing for a list of this reputation, and Penn State fans should be especially excited about these four players.
Under Armour All-America Game
This year's Under Armour All-America game took place on January 2nd in St. Petersburg, FL. Penn State had 3 commits there representing Happy Valley. De'Andre Thompkins, Chris Godwin, and Michael O'Connor were all showing off what makes them some of the top players at their positions. O'Connor finished the game 3/6 passing with a touchdown. Godwin caught one pass for 18 yards, and Thompkins was held without a catch. Not impressive numbers, but you also have to remember that this is essentially an all star game when looking at playing time. The fact that these three were invited to play in the game shows how respected their talents are, and they got a great chance to match up against some of the other top 2014 talent in the country.
With the start of the spring (ha) semester here at Penn State came the official enrollment of the five newest members of the Penn State football team. Tarow Barney, Chasz Wright, Michael O'Connor, De'Andre Thompkins, and Antoine White all officially began classes on Monday, and thus became official Penn State student athletes. It's huge to have kept all the current 2014 class (aside from Holley and Vincent), but it was especially important that the new staff convince O'Connor and Thompkins to stay on board. They are two stud prospects who had plenty of other options, so getting their names in ink is surely a huge relief for the new staff, as they have fewer names to worry about as of now.
If you've been keeping up to date with your PSU news lately, you'll know that since his hire James Franklin has flipped three former Vanderbilt commits to Penn State. Offensive lineman Chance Sorrell, defensive end Lloyd Tubman, and offensive lineman Brendan Brosnan all decided to follow Franklin in his conversion from Commodore to Nittany Lion. Seeing as the new staff walked into a recruiting class with no defensive ends and a team lacking offensive line depth, I'd say they tackled both of those problems as well as anyone could have. Tubman is a big time recruit, who could very well find himself playing opposite Garret Sickels one day, forming what could be an absolutely devastating duo. While Sorrell and Brosnan are not necessarily high profile recruits, they absolutely fill a need. Plus, we know how meaningless stars can prove to be (Spoiler alert for a future article of mine), and who's to say that they won't turn into Levi Brown* or Mike Munchak**?
*The good, college level kind of Levi Brown. Not the underperforming, NFL kind.
**The good, college and NFL kind of Mike Munchak. Not the bad, head coach kind.
Now friends, it is time. The return of the Penn State Recruiting Big Board. In all of its glory. No movie quotes necessary for today's edition. Only one other change- seeing as all of the previous coaches are either gone already, or on their way out the door, we're going to drop the part where I tell you who each player was being recruited by. Also keep in mind that many of our current commits are still in the process of deciding their futures with Penn State. So this board may look different the next time I write this article (which will be back to my normal schedule from now on, I promise).
Penn State Recruiting Class of 2014 Big Board
Estimated Class Size: 23
Current Commitments: 20 Total, 5 Enrolled
1. Michael O'Connor (IMG Academy (FL)) (Enrolled)
Notes: Any drama with O'Connor has officially come to a close, as the 4* QB began classes this week here at University Park. Mike met with James Franklin last weekend, and clearly liked what he heard. Look for O'Connor to get lots of playing time in the Blue & White game this year, and fans should be looking forward to seeing what he can do.
1. Nick Scott (Fairfax (VA)) (Committed 2/23/13)
2. Mark Allen (DeMatha Catholic (MD)) (Committed 10/16/12)
3. Johnathan Thomas (St. John's Prep (MA)) (Committed 10/20/13)
Notes: All three of the committed running backs chose to stay on board with the coaching change. Mark Allen was especially vocal, and one of the leaders of the class during their time of uncertainty. Look for all three of these guys to make some sort of impact on this team in the future, as each has a slightly different playing style.
1. De'Andre Thompkins (Swansboro (NC)) (Enrolled)
2. Chris Godwin (Middletown (DE)) (Committed 4/23/13)
Notes: No movement here in terms of decommitments, which is better news than anyone new committing. Thompkins and Godwin were said to be very on the fence about Penn State if Stan Hixon was going to leave. Well Hixon left with O'Brien, and yet here they are. The bond shared between the men in this recruiting class is strong, and their respect for the new coaches is very evident. Thompkins is still in line to become the stud return man that Penn State has been missing lately, along with being a dynamic offensive threat whether it's receiving or running the football (think of him as somewhat of a Percy Harvin-lite). Godwin is looking more and more like he has the chance to steal some early playing time, with Allen Robinson declaring early for the NFL draft. Apke isn't as flashy a name as the other two, but is a very god receiver in his own right. Penn State could be looking at their next Graham Zug in Troy.
1. Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin (NJ)) (Committed 10/17/13)
Notes: If you remember my post about the recruit fallout in response to O'Brien bolting for the NFL, you'll remember that Gesicki was the recruit I was most afraid of losing. Luckily for my sanity those fears have been quelled, as Mike confirmed to Lions247 that his commitment to Penn State to play under James Franklin is indeed a solid one (for now). Gesicki is still on track to combine with Adam Breneman to form a freakishly athletic tight end duo, the likes of which the Big Ten has rarely seen.
Dropped Out: Alex Bookser (Mt. Lebanon (PA)) (Committed to Pitt 12/18/13)
Notes: As you read above, James Franklin flipped both Sorrell and Brosnan to Penn State from Vanderbilt. Both are three star recruits who could be thrown into the mix early with the lack of depth currently on this Penn State roster on the offensive line. Noah Beh remains committed to the Lions as well, despite the expected retirement of his lead recruiter, Mac McWhorter. Alex Bookser finally made a decision, and he chose the Panthers of Pittsburgh. Oh well. We move on. And to address quickly those who may ask about the likes of Alex Bars and other offensive line recruits that are currently committed elsewhere, it's hard to tell what the new staff is doing in that area. If there was any shot of that occurring with any of those high profile guys, it probably dissipated when the old staff bolted for Houston. Not that the new staff isn't perfectly capable of flipping a recruit, but it's not likely that they will be able to develop a strong enough relationship in time to flip someone now.
1. Antoine White (Millville Senior (NJ)) (Enrolled)
2. Tarow Barney (Senatobia (MS)) (Enrolled)
3. Derrick Nnadi (Virginia Beach (VA))
4. Damian Prince (District Heights (MD))
Dropped Out: Thomas Holley (Brooklyn (NY)) (Committed to Florida 1/15/14)
Notes: It's a little disappointing that I never got the chance to write up a Roundup that included Holley in bold with a commit date. Oh well. As you all know, Holley decided to flip his commitment to Florida shortly after it was announced that Larry Johnson was leaving the program to take over the defensive line in Columbus. Which sucks. Holley was a big time recruit, and was one of the top defensive tackles in the country. Even though his commitment always felt a little uneasy due to his highly sought-after status, it still hurts to lose a recruit with such massive potential. That being said, Antoine White and Tarow Barney have both already enrolled at Penn State, and will both look to make an impact on the field for James Franklin in the immediate and more distant future. Derrick Nnadi is a name that carries slightly more intrigue, now that Penn State has lost Holley's commitment. It will be interesting to see how hard the new staff goes after him in the upcoming weeks. Watch for updates on Nnadi on twitter dot com. Also on the radar is five star stud, Damian Prince. South Carolina, Florida, and Maryland are currently his top three, but Penn State has jumped into the picture with the hiring of James Franklin. Prince reportedly is a big fan of Franklin and has said he will willing to hear what he has to say. If things go well when Prince meets with PSU coaches, he may schedule an official visit. Time to see what you've got James. Make us proud.
Notes: Tubman is the final Vanderbilt flip (so far) to join Franklin in Happy Valley. Tubman is a four star prospect, and is the third ranked player in Kentucky according to 247Sports. Tubman's addition is a welcome one, both for his huge potential and for his filling of a position that has long been missing in this 2014 class.
2. Jason Cabinda (OLB) (Hunterdon Central (NJ)) (Committed 10/23/13)
3. Donte Raymond (OLB) (Rahway (NJ)) (Committed 12/16/13)
Dropped Out: Melvin Keihn (OLB) (Gilman (MD)) (Committed to Virginia Tech 12/24/13), Brandon Lee (OLB) (Lawrence Central (IN)) (Committed to Missouri 1/8/14)
Notes: Since I last rounded up our recruiting, Donte Raymond made his pledge to become a Nittany Lion. His commitment probably wraps up the linebackers for this class. Cabinda was one of the most vocal leaders of the recruiting class during our coach-less period, and Reeder has stated his intentions to remain a Lion as well. This is a great group of guys who will look to provide quality depth in the immediate future for our paper-thin linebacking core.
1. Daquan Worley (CB) (Coatesville Area Shs (PA)) (Committed 5/3/13)
2. Marcus Allen (S) (Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. (MD)) (Committed 5/10/13)
3. Koa Farmer (S) (Sherman Oaks (CA)) (Committed to Cal)
Dropped Out: Montae Nicholson (CB) (Gateway (PA)) (Committed to Michigan State 12/19/13), Shawn Boone (S) (Dwyer (FL)), Troy Vincent Jr. (CB) (Rockville (MD)) (Committed to NC State 1/16/14)
Notes: Nicholson decided to pull the trigger and pledge his intent to join what was the NCAA's top defense last year under Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi. Nicholson is a big time prospect who did a lot of flirting at the bar to get free drinks with the Nittany Lions, but eventually left them standing there alone when he saw the dude in the green sweater vest walk through the door. It's disappointing to see him sign with a B1G foe, but the stable of defensive backs Penn State boasts is still very impressive. Worley, despite tearing his towards the end of the year, had a monster senior season at both running back and cornerback (which actually has prompted some to question whether or not he has some potential at halfback in the college game). Allen remains a big name who could become a starter very quickly on the PSU defense. Shawn Boone had narrowed down his choices to Penn State and NC State, but the new staff has decided to look other directions per Sean Fitz at Lions247.
Troy Vincent was a Nittany Lion up until last night when he decided to flip his verbal commitment to NC State. With the coaching change, it would seem that TVJ found himself in a different situation with Franklin than what he had with O'Brien. Kao Farmer very recently added a Penn State offer, and is someone who James Franklin had been recruiting when he was at Vanderbilt. This may be his first chance to see what the power of being Penn State' head coach can really do in terms of recruiting. Farmer is considering making an official visit to Happy Valley.
You probably noticed that there were not very many targets on this edition of the Big Board. Seeing as this staff is still getting its feet in the water, and the dead period ended very recently, it has not become very clear at this point who exactly the staff is targeting for the final few spots in the 2014 class. Hopefully there will be a little more clarity (or a full class), by the time of my next roundup.
Link$ and Other News
Jeff Rice of Lions247 is reporting the further cementing of the new coaching staff, with only a few positions yet to be filled.
Sean Fitz of Lions247 has some updates for us on where all of the new coaches are heading out in the coming days in terms of which recruits/schools they are visiting and when.
2015 LB Josh Smith talks about his Penn State offer and Vanderbilt with Rivals here.
That's all I've got for you this time. As more targets become clear, I'll be tweeting and writing about them, so look alive people. Hopefully all of this hot info tides you over until Franklin gets his next commitment, which knowing how this usually works, will be approximately 15 seconds after this post goes live. #DominateTheState