Penn State head coach James Franklin told reporters at his introductory press conference that his recruiting strategy going forward will be to "dominate the state," per Audrey Snyder of PennLive.com.
Since then, rather than backing off that statement, he has elaborated, stating in an interview with 105.7 The Fan (h/t CBS Baltimore) that Penn State will try to "dominate the whole region," which he then described: "If you look, Penn State historically has been able to do a great job in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, New England, Delaware, Maryland, [Washington] D.C., Virginia. Those states should be really, really good to Penn State, and I've hired a staff with strong connections in all those areas."
Luckily for Franklin, that region is full of talent as far as the 2015 recruiting cycle goes.
According to the 247Sports Composite ratings, 12 of the top 100 recruits in 2015 hail from Penn State's region, and the new staff has already reached out to several of them.
At Penn State's junior day this weekend, the program will be hosting several kids from all over the Northeast. Let's take a look at some of the top prospects for the Nittany Lions early in the 2015 cycle.
All star ratings courtesy of 247Sports.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 185 pounds
Hometown: Jersey City, N.J.
Position/Ranking: 5-star CB, No. 4 CB recruit, No. 1 overall N.J. prospect
Other Offers: Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, Georgia
Fitzpatrick is the top overall target on Penn State's board. The Nittany Lions should find themselves in the mix down the stretch, but it won't be easy.
In January alone, Fitzpatrick was visited at school by coaches from Ohio State, Michigan and South Carolina before he visited Alabama.
New Jersey's top prospect camped at Penn State last June and tells me he will be visiting to attend a spring practice. Wide receiver coach Josh Gattis visited Fitzpatrick last month at his high school.
Height/Weight: 6'8", 305 pounds
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Position/Ranking: 4-star OT, No. 4 OT recruit, No. 1 overall Pa. prospect
Offers: Ole Miss, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee
If Franklin wants to lock down the commonwealth, securing a commitment from the top player in the state is a good place to start.
Jenkins was in attendance for the win over Michigan last season but also visited Ohio State, Michigan and Pitt.
Penn State has a real shot here, as Jenkins listed Penn State among his favorites before the coaching change, but stealing the massive tackle from Pitt's backyard won't be easy:
Talked to Baldwin OT Sterling Jenkins today. He informed me his top 2 are Michigan and Penn State. UT, Pitt, OSU, and Ole Miss also in it— WPIAL_Insider (@WPIAL_Insider) November 3, 2013
Height/Weight: 6'4", 301 pounds
Hometown: Washington D.C.
Position/Ranking: 4-star OG, No. 7 OG recruit, No. 1 D.C. area prospect
Offers: Alabama, LSU, Virginia Tech, Ohio State
Petitbon was on campus for the Nebraska game and has been high on Penn State from the beginning.
This one will most likely come down to Alabama and the Nittany Lions. Getting Petitbon on campus for junior day would be a step in the right direction.
2015 OT Richie Petitbon tells me he wants to attend junior days at Maryland, Alabama, Penn State, LSU and Boston College.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) January 4, 2014
Height/Weight: 6'2", 205 pounds
Hometown: Jersey City, N.J.
Position/Ranking: 4-star QB, No. 7 dual-threat QB, No. 4 N.J. prospect
Offers: Ohio State, South Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee
Wimbush camped at both Vanderbilt and Penn State over the summer, and James Franklin offered him back in October while he was still the coach at Vanderbilt, so the groundwork is in place.
This could come down to Urban Meyer and James Franklin, and it may play a part in the recruitment of teammate Minkah Fitzpatrick.
One prospect I know that will like James Franklin to #PennState is '15 QB Brandon Wimbush.— Derek Young (@DYoungScout) January 9, 2014
Height/Weight: 6'2", 250 pounds
Hometown: Hampton, Va.
Position/Ranking: 4-star DE, No. 12 strong-side DE recruit, No. 11 Va. prospect
Offers: Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State
Lewis could grow into a tackle when it's all over, but that makes him an even more intriguing prospect for the Nittany Lions, who will be in the market for both.
He was in attendance for the win over Michigan but will be hard to steal from Virginia Tech's backyard.
Height/Weight: 6'0", 180 pounds
Hometown: Monaca, Pa.
Position/Ranking: 4-star CB, No. 17 CB recruit, No. 4 Pa. prospect
Offers: Ohio State, Michigan, Pitt, West Virginia
Height/Weight: 5'9", 205 pounds
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa.
Position/Ranking: 4-star RB, No. 15 RB recruit, No. 3 Pa. prospect
Offers: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Michigan State
Running back isn't a real position of need in 2015, but the staff is willing to take one if it's the right player—the top RB in the state fits that mold.
Robinson is good friends with Adam Breneman, and he'll be on campus soon. Once he is, he'll be on "commitment watch."
Height/Weight: 6'5", 280 pounds
Hometown: Warminster, Pa.
Position/Ranking: 4-star OT, No. 21 OT recruit, No. 7 Pa. prospect
Offers: South Carolina, Michigan, Auburn, Virginia
Bates has camped and visited Penn State since the start of last summer and will probably be at junior day this weekend.
My crystal-ball projection is Penn State, and it could be over soon.
Height/Weight: 6'2", 240 pounds
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Position/Ranking: 4-star OLB, No. 4 OLB recruit, No. 4 Va. prospect
Offers: Oklahoma, Ohio State, UNC, Florida, Michigan State
Whether DeBerry stays at linebacker or grows into an end in college, he'll fit a position of need in this recruiting cycle.
The new staff has some catching up to do, but DeBerry has visited Happy Valley twice already, including attending the Nebraska game in November.
Height/Weight: 6'4", 235 pounds
Hometown: Gaithersburg, Md.
Position/Ranking: 4-star athlete, No. 23 ATH recruit, No. 6 Md. prospect
Offers: Michigan State, Nebraska, Maryland, Pitt
Carter projects as a defensive end, and Penn State is right in the thick of it to land him. If he makes it to the junior day this weekend, it could give the Nittany Lions a leg up in the chase.