So far, James Franklin has put his money where his mouth is.
In the short time he's had to focus on the 2015 recruiting class, Franklin has lived up to his "dominate the state" mantra mentioned during his introductory press conference. Of the seven players currently committed to the class, five are Pennsylvania natives. By comparison, Penn State's 2014 class had only three.
Still, Franklin and his staff have a few more prospects from the commonwealth to grab.
At the very least, they seem to have a plan on how to do that. Mark Wogenrich of The Morning Call in Allentown recently tweeted this picture, which shows how Franklin has divvied up in-state recruiting territories to nine of his assistants:
Of the top 15 Pennsylvania prospects, five have committed to Penn State and two have pledged to Pittsburgh. The remaining eight have yet to decide.
One of those prospects is offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins. A behemoth of a high schooler (6'8", 305 pounds), Jenkins would figure to be next in line at left tackle once the Donovan Smith era ends.
As Mike Gross of Lancaster Online writes, landing Jenkins would go a long way in solidifying Franklin's motto: "Jenkins could be a litmus test for this 'Dominate the State' stuff. At 6-8, 305 and the rare high school monster tackle considered better at pass than run blocking, Jenkins is somebody’s left tackle of the future."
Landing Jenkins won't be easy. He's one of the nation's top tackle prospects, and according to his 247Sports profile, he is very much interested in both Michigan and Ohio State.
Luckily, Franklin will have some help. After Pennsylvania native and 4-star (per 247Sports) running back Andre Robinson committed last week, he told Tom VanHaaren of ESPN that he'll get to work on convincing Jenkins to join him in Happy Valley:
Andre Robinson also said he's on his way home and is going to immediately start recruiting OL Sterling Jenkins for Penn State.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) February 28, 2014
This makes sense. After all, Jenkins would be clearing running lanes for Robinson.
Despite early success on the eastern side of the state, there's still work to be done. While four of Penn State's five in-state commits—Ryan Bates, Jake Cooper, Ryan Buchholz and Saquon Barkley— are from that area, there's still plenty of talent left to be had.
Ranked as the state's top prospect by 247Sports, cornerback John Reid would give a huge boost to Penn State's secondary. Sure, the Nittany Lions just signed three cornerbacks, but none is as highly touted as Reid. With Adrian Amos set to graduate after the season and Jordan Lucas not getting any younger, Penn State needs cornerback depth.
Reid was on hand for Penn State's junior day on February 15. Of the 10 Crystal Ball predictions on his 247Sports profile, all 10 predict that he'll eventually become a Nittany Lion.
Two additional prospects in Penn State's crosshairs are running back Josh Adams and defensive end Shareef Miller. According to recruiting experts on their respective 247Sports pages, Penn State is the favorite to land both players.
Adams happens to attend school just miles from where Bates and Cooper go. Couple that trio with Reid and Miller, and there's a pocket of rich talent in the greater Philadelphia area Penn State needs to tap into.
Early success is good, but finishing strong is key. If Franklin intends to make good on his word to lock up Pennsylvania, he'll need to reel in some of the aforementioned prospects. Doing so will get him off on the right foot and send a message to future classes: If you're a Pennsylvania guy and we think you can help us, we're going to get you.
Franklin's domination of the state has gotten off to a hot start, but he's far from finished.