Since taking over in early January, James Franklin has proven to be a tireless recruiter and Penn State has benefited, landing a top-25 class, according to 247Sports, despite taking over just four weeks before signing day.
Franklin hasn't slowed down a bit, and the Nittany Lions have already landed eight verbal commitments for the upcoming recruiting class—a class that currently ranks in the top 10 and first among Big Ten teams.
After landing five 4-star players in last year's class of 24 commits, Penn State has as many 4-star prospects verbally committed this year with just eight total commitments so far.
If things go like many are predicting, Franklin could double the 4-star players in this class before signing day rolls around.
According to 247Sports' Crystal Ball projections, Penn State is the favorite to land 4-star recruits Sterling Jenkins, Brandon Wimbush, John Reid, Jordan Whitehead and Josh Adams. They're also in the mix for several other highly rated prospects.
In order to land a top-five class, Franklin will need to land commitments from several of the highest-rated prospects that he is recruiting, but that may not be out of the question.
There's a grey area concerning how many scholarships the Nittany Lions will be able to dole out next year.
As it stands now, there will only be around 15 openings on a roster that must max out at 80 scholarship players. That's a number being written only in pencil right now, though, as most experts expect the attrition that a new coaching hire brings will be enough to create several more openings.
It's quite possible that James Franklin's second class at Penn State will be a full class of 25 recruits.
If that's the case, a top-five class is within reach for the newest coach in the Big Ten.
James Franklin flexing on the recruiting trail right now. Penn State has eight commitments since Feb. 15, pushing team into national Top 5.— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) March 17, 2014
Between now and the Blue-White game on April 12, Happy Valley will play host to some of the top prospects in the country. If the momentum already in place continues through the spring, Franklin and his staff should still be hanging with the Bamas, LSUs and Florida States among the top classes.
Of course, on-field results will play a role in the final class standings.
A sub-par season between the white lines will scare some kids and give opposing coaches plenty of ammunition.
At the same time, if the Nittany Lions can come out and surprise some teams in what should be the worst of the sanction years, it may grab the attention of recruits and show that these Nittany Lions are truly headed for something special.
Success truly breeds success in the recruiting game.
There's much left to unfold between now and signing day next February, but the outlook hasn't been this positive in a very long time.
All recruit ratings based on 247Sports' composite rankings.