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Re-ranking Penn State’s 2014 Recruiting Class

The 2014 recruiting class was a special one in Penn State history.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 recruiting class was James Franklin’s first recruiting class as the head football coach at Penn State. The class featured a group of recruits that were originally recruited by Bill O’Brien, flipped to the Nittany Lions from Vanderbilt when James Franklin came to Happy Valley, as well as a few late additions.

Overall, it was a quality first recruiting class for James Franklin. It ranked 24th in both 247Sports’s composite team rankings and Rivals team rankings. It was also rated as the third best class in the Big Ten that recruiting cycle only behind Ohio State (#3) and Michigan (#20).

The original recruiting class featured a top 10 recruit list of the following;

  1. WR Saeed Blacknall
  2. WR Chris Godwin
  3. TE Mike Gesicki
  4. WR DeAndre Thompkins
  5. PRO-QB Michael O’Connor
  6. S Marcus Allen
  7. S Koa Farmer
  8. DT Tarow Barney
  9. RB Jonathan Thomas
  10. ILB Troy Reeder

Overall at the time it was a considerably good top-10 for Penn State especially entering their third year on sanctions. You can view the full 24-man class, here.

Now, it’s time to re-rank the top 10 players of the 2014 recruiting class. Make sure to leave your top 10 players in the comments!


1. QB Trace McSorley

In a way, there’s not much you can say about a player you could possibly consider the program’s greatest quarterback. McSorley was the easy choice to be the top player in the 2014 re-rank and it wasn’t even close. Trace simply outplayed his recruiting ranking and led Penn State to places it hasn’t been in over 20 years. His ability to always find a way to stay in games, if not win, was second to none. It’s a shame Penn State couldn’t get more than one Big Ten title during his career in Happy Valley.

2. WR Chris Godwin

Godwin put together quite the resume at Penn State and played like a five-star wide receiver. Unfortunately for him, Trace McSoley stopped him from grabbing the top spot in these re-rankings. Godwin dominated during his sophomore and junior seasons with Penn State, bringing a combined 128 receptions for 2,083-yards and 16 touchdowns. He would go onto be selected in the third round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft.

3. TE Mike Gesicki

Gesicki entered the program as a highly-touted tight end and at one point looked like he was heading to Columbus. After a turbulent first two seasons with the program, Gesicki hit the reset button before his junior season and from there he became one of the best tight ends in all of college football. During his junior and senior seasons, Gesicki brought in 105 receptions for 1,252-yards and 14 touchdowns. He would go onto be selected in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

4. S Marcus Allen

There may not have been a player on the Penn State program who enjoyed himself more than Marcus Allen, and we mean that in the nicest way. Allen wasn’t the most talented defensive player during his career or even in this recruiting class but his overall impact was undeniable. He was a reliable defender and racked up 320 career tackles over his four seasons. He’s a major reason for Penn State’s success both on and off the field.

5. CB Amani Oruwariye

Leading up to his junior year, Oruwariye never made waves on or off the field. At least visible waves but with that being said, the former three-star recruit worked his way up the depth chart to become an outstanding corner as an upperclassman. Over his final two seasons in Happy Valley, Oruwariye made 78 tackles and 7 interceptions.

6. LB Jason Cabinda

Cabinda was never the most talented, never the strongest, and never the fastest. But he was the epitome of a Penn State linebacker. He finished his career with 285 career tackles including 17.5 tackles for a loss and 7 sacks. He made a habit of making huge plays, and his most famous sack can be seen in the video below.

7. CB Grant Haley

We could write a few sentences on what Haley meant to the program but we’ll allow this video to the talking:

Haley was a major part of the defense throughout his career, and made a splash with the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2018.

8. CB Christian Campbell

Campbell was never a high-impact player for the Nittany Lions but made his fair share of impact plays throughout his career. Campbell played four seasons with the Nittany Lions, totaling 102 tackles and 4 interceptions. He would go onto be drafted in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 NFL Draft.

9. S Troy Apke

Apke’s career arch at Penn State was an interesting one, to say the least. Apke only played three seasons with the Nittany Lions and was never really a big play player or a star. That being said, he was always reliable and consistent on special teams and in the secondary for the Nittany Lions. He racked up 55 tackles over three seasons. He would put on a show at the combine and was drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins.

10. S Nick Scott

Scott didn’t really come into to his own until his senior year but was always a great asset on special teams and depth player in the secondary. Scott came up with several key turnovers as a senior including the one below.

Other Notable Recruits:

  • LB Troy Reeder

Reeder only played one year with the Nittany Lions but he looked like a future NFL-caliber linebacker with the Nittany Lions. After that one season, he transferred back home to the University of Delaware.

  • DT Torrence Brown

Brown was the lowest-rated recruit in the recruiting class but put together a strong career with the program. He suffered a devastating knee injury in 2017 and since has transferred to Southern Mississippi where he will play his final season.