Officially less than a week away from National Signing Day, the Nittany Lions are sitting pretty.
Penn State, boasting the No. 14 recruiting class according to 247 Sports, has 14 verbal commits and four early enrollees already on-campus.
With 18 total members of the 2017 class, the Nittany Lions have one to three spots open given their current scholarship numbers.
“If signing day is today, we’ve got a pretty good class,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said at Saturday’s end-of-season press conference. “There’s no perfect class, but if we can get a few more pieces of the puzzle, we feel good about it.”
A bit has happened since Saturday, though.
When Franklin addressed the media, Penn State’s 2017 class had 19 members. Four-star linebacker Dylan Rivers, who committed to the Nittany Lions in Nov. 2015, flipped his pledge to Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon.
The Virginia native, who visited with the rest of the 2017 class over the weekend, apparently could not be swayed to stay with the Nittany Lions.
On Saturday morning, Franklin perhaps offered a bit of foreshadowing to Rivers’ decommitment.
“I think you look around the country right now at some programs that are basically offering prospects that are committed to every school in the country, and they’re trying to pluck them away,” Franklin said. “We’ve got a couple guys that are still entertaining conversations with other schools, and we’ve got to keep those guys on board with us. I prefer you get in a situation where guys commit and it’s over, but that’s not always the case.”
There’s been a bit more recruiting news, too, since Franklin addressed the media.
An hour after Rivers decommitted on Sunday, four-star offensive lineman C.J. Thorpe reaffirmed his pledge to Penn State.
Thorpe, a 6-foot-3, 318-pound guard out of Pittsburgh’s Central Catholic, verbally committed to Penn State in April, but Michigan was reportedly pushing hard for him recently.
Thorpe put an end to any speculation with a tweet saying, “100% committed to PSU, saw the options and I’m staying home.”
Franklin and his staff didn’t waste much time moving on from Rivers, either.
Ellis Brooks, a four-star linebacker out of Richmond, Va., is scheduled to visit Penn State this weekend. According to 247’s Crystal Ball Predictions, Maryland is a runaway favorite to land Brooks.
The Terrapins and Nittany Lions are battling it out for another prospect, as well.
Tariq Castro-Fields, a four-star cornerback out of Maryland, is set to make his announcement on signing day after delaying it from Monday. In 247’s Crystal Ball Predictions, Penn State is a 79 percent favorite to land Castro-Fields, who would be the Nittany Lions’ fourth defensive back of the 2017 class.
So, again, as it stands, the Nittany Lions have four members of the 2017 class already enrolled — defensive back Lamont Wade, linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden, wide receiver K.J. Hamler, and offensive lineman Mike Miranda — with 14 verbal commits.
The list of the verbals is as follows:
▪ C.J. Thorpe, offensive guard, Pittsburgh
▪ Sean Clifford, quarterback, Cincinnati, Ohio
▪ Fred Hansard, defensive tackle, Princeton, N.J.
▪ Yetur Matos, defensive end, Fredericksburg, Va.
▪ Jonathan Sutherland, safety, Alexandria, Va.
▪ Damion Barber, defensive end, Harrisburg
▪ Donovan Johnson, cornerback, Detroit
▪ Cameron Sullivan-Brown, wide receiver, Laurel, Md.
▪ Mac Hippenhammer, wide receiver, Fort Wayne, Ind.
▪ Robert Martin, offensive tackle, Montvale, N.J.
▪ Desmond Holmes, offensive tackle, Springfield
▪ Brailyn Franklin, athlete, Haymarket, Va.
▪ Journey Brown, running back, Meadville
▪ D.J. Brown, cornerback, Fairburn, Ga.
Unless someone decommits, Franklin and his staff will spend the coming days figuring out who fills the final few spots in the 2017 class. Whether it’s Castro-Fields, Brooks or other prospects, Penn State’s headman hopes polish off the class with some future contributors.
“We’ve got a handful of guys that we’re still recruiting for those last few spots to try to finish this thing,” Franklin said, “to try to close this thing out on a real positive note.”
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