A look at James Franklin’s recruiting success at Penn State
Over the past five years at Penn State, James Franklin has maintained the same stance on recruiting high school prospects: If you verbally commit to the Nittany Lions, make sure you 100 percent intend to sign. In Franklin’s words specifically from Dec. 19, 2018, “Once you shake my hand, we’re engaged and there’s no more dating, no more flirting.”
But in the past week alone, two 2020 prospects previously committed to Penn State re-entered the dating pool.
Four-star offensive tackle Aaryn Parks de-committed from the Nittany Lions on Wednesday afternoon, three days after four-star blocker Grant Toutant flipped to Ohio State. Penn State’s 2020 class now stands at 10 members with a No. 18 national ranking, per 247 Sports. Prior to Toutant’s decision, the Nittany Lions ranked No. 10 in the country.
Unlike Toutant, Parks does not have his next destination determined. In fact, he said in a Twitter statement that Penn State is still a “top choice” — but that his recruitment is “100 percent back open.”
“I would like to thank the Penn State coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to commit to such a prestigious university,” Parks wrote. “I feel as though I made my decision off of emotions and locked in too early without giving other universities an equal opportunity to recruit me.”
That opens the door for the 19 other schools that offered Parks a scholarship. The National Christian Academy (Md.) product garnered interest from Michigan, Pitt, West Virginia, Florida, Maryland and more.
As it stands without Parks, the Nittany Lions have four offensive linemen committed to its 2020 class: Three-star tackle Olu Fashanu and three-star guards Nick Dawkins, Golden Israel-Achumba and R.J. Adams. In early May — before Fashanu committed and prior to Toutant and Parks’ defections — the Nittany Lions had five blockers in the bag and looking at possibly seven, according to 247 Sports expert Brian Dohn.
Franklin and his staff are still eying a couple more blockers. Four-star tackle Michael Carmody, from Erie, has Penn State in the running, and three-star center Josh Fryar is scheduled to visit State College this weekend.
However, Parks’ departure stings — especially considering the way in which he and Toutant left.
“We don’t pressure guys. In a lot of ways, we try to talk guys out of committing,” Franklin said of his recruiting philosophy back in Dec. 2018. “You sure you want to do this? What if you get this offered next week? What if you get that offer? I’d rather you not commit than commit and change your mind later.”