A look at James Franklin’s recruiting success at Penn State
Penn State’s 2020 recruiting cycle has been a roller coaster. And Saturday provided a few more twists and turns.
The Nittany Lions received two commitments — and one decommitment — as James Franklin and his staff hosted their final recruiting event of the summer. Four-star defensive lineman Coziah Izzard and three-star defensive tackle Fatorma Mulbah picked Penn State on Saturday, while longtime four-star linebacker commit Derek Wingo flipped to Florida.
All of that movement happened in, roughly, a three-hour window. Mulbah announced his commitment at 5:57 p.m. Wingo chose The Swamp over Happy Valley at 7:53 p.m. And at 9:06 p.m., Izzard pledged to Penn State’s 2020 class, capping an already active weekend. On Friday night, the Nittany Lions earned commitments from four-star wide receiver Jaden Dottin and Lackawanna College cornerback Ji’Ayir Brown.
So, on the weekend, Franklin gained two top-300 prospects (Dottin, Izzard), lost another in Wingo, added a couple of three-star, up-and-comers, and moved up to No. 17 from No. 27 in national recruiting rankings, according to 247 Sports. This, of course, comes on the heels of a previously woeful June.
After five-star wideout Julian Fleming — the No. 1 prospect in Pennsylvania — picked Ohio State on May 31, four-star offensive lineman Grant Toutant flipped from Penn State to the Buckeyes on June 9. Days later, four-star lineman Aaryn Parks and four-star cornerback Josh Moten re-opened their recruitments. This weekend, Parks took his first visit since decommitting — to see Pat Narduzzi and Pitt.
Parks and Moten both said in statements that they committed to the Nittany Lions too early in the process, and Wingo offered a similar sentiment.
“Some people do not understand how hard it can be to make a college decision at such a young age, realizing that one choice will affect the rest of your life,” he wrote. “With that being said, I would like to officially shut down my recruitment and announce that I’m 100 percent committed to the University of Florida.”
The loss of Wingo is significant. The St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) star — the second member of Penn State’s 2020 class after committing on Christmas Day — is the No. 142 overall prospect and No. 11 outside linebacker in the country.
However, the commitments of Izzard and Mulbah ought to lift Penn State fans’ spirits.
Mulbah, a Susquehanna Township standout, is the latest Mid Penn Conference star to choose the Nittany Lions, joining Micah Parsons (Harrisburg), Keaton Ellis (State College), Zack Kuntz (Camp Hill) and more. Mulbah was second-team all-conference in 2018 and earned offers from Temple, Navy, Buffalo, Connecticut and a few more Group of 5 programs.
Izzard, meanwhile, had offers from 23 programs, including Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida. The DeMatha Catholic (Md.) pass-rusher is the No. 245 prospect in the country and No. 11 player in Maryland. He can play either tackle or end at the next level.
“We have a great relationship, and they continue to build it,” Izzard said of the Penn State staff, to 247 Sports. “They love me at Penn State.”
Now, things should cool off on the recruiting scene. Sunday starts a dead period in which in-person contact between coaches and prospects is restricted until late July.
That should provide enough time for Penn State coaches and commits, both current and former, to catch their breath.