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Penn State Football Recruiting: Recapping National Signing Day 2023

Was there any drama this time around?

Rutgers v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY RECAP

Happy National Signing Day. The early signing period for the Class of 2024 is open Wednesday, December 22, through Friday, December 22, and Penn State football seems to have its group nailed down. The regular signing period will open on February 7, but the Nittany Lions will likely not make major changes to their class between now and then.

All 25 of Penn State’s verbal commits signed their National Letters of Intent Wednesday, marking another drama-free signing day for James Franklin & Co. Now that the dust has settled, the Nittany Lions claim the No. 14 overall class in 247Sports’ Composite rankings and the No. 16 class per On3. Both sites have Penn State as No. 2 in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State.

While this class is a step down from last year on paper, it’s hard not to notice the program’s recruiting consistency. Franklin has now claimed a Top-20 class every year since he took over as head coach, with top-10 classes in 2018 and 2022. Sixteen of the 25 recruits signed Wednesday will early enroll in the spring semester.

This year’s signing class sports a strong Mid-Atlantic lineage, as 15 of the signees are from within a 200-mile radius of State College. Penn State continued its DMV dominance, pulling in prospects like Dejuan Lane, Xavier Gilliam, and Jaylen Harvey from Maryland.

Franklin also dipped into some southern recruiting hotspots this year, landing four-star and three-star cornerbacks Jon Mitchell and Antoine Belgrave-Shorter from Jacksonville, Florida, and four-star defensive lineman T.A. Cunningham from Atlanta. The Nittany Lions also boast the No. 1 players from three states in Connecticut’s Luke Reynolds, Pennsylvania’s Quinton Martin, and Wisconsin’s Garret Sexton.

This year’s class is well-rounded on the offensive end. Reynolds, a five-star and the No. 1 tight end in the class, headlines the group. Quarterback Ethan Grunkemeyer, the No. 2 player from Ohio, has generated lots of buzz as well. While the class lacks big names at wide receiver, athlete Quinton Martin, who will likely play running back but may see time in the slot, fills the gaps. The class also has five offensive linemen, which is always a good thing.

On the defensive side of the ball, this class is not very top-heavy, but it is deep. Mitchell, a top-15 cornerback, is the big name of the bunch. Guys like Cunningham, Lane, Gilliam, Harvey, and linebacker Anthony Speca show lots of potential as well.


UN-COMMITTED PROSPECTS PENN STATE WAS PURSUING

Ernest Willor Jr. was the big name Penn State was still (kind of) in the running for on Wednesday, but it seemed inevitable that he was going to commit to Wisconsin, which he did. He would have been the second-highest-ranked defensive prospect in the class. But, at least the Nittany Lions did not lose the DMV prospect to Maryland.

Quarterback Michael Van Buren, whom Penn State heavily pursued earlier in the cycle and took an official visit over the summer, chose Mississippi State on National Signing Day.


ANY DRAMA?

Any drama? No drama! On a day that’s typically dominated by headlines of last-minute flips and shocking de-commitments, Penn State once again kept things lowkey. While the Nittany Lions aren’t constantly pulling in top-10 classes, there’s something calming and consistent about a lack of recruiting hoopla and nonsense.