After only a few months, Penn State head coach James Franklin has turned the program into a recruiting juggernaut. If the next few days yields verbals from one or two highly touted prospects, the Nittany Lions could even have the best class in the country.
All three of the major high school football recruiting services—247Sports, Rivals and Scout—have Penn State's 2015 class ranked as the second-best in college football. The overall quality of the class (which features 11 commits) trails only Texas A&M (nine commits).
After recent pledges from 4-star recruits Josh Barajas and Steven Gonzalez, many fans thought Penn State's class would grab a hold of the top spot nationally. That hasn't happened yet, but Franklin and Co. are certainly on the verge of it.
Here are a few players who, if they commit soon, would likely give Penn State the top class in the country.
A 5-star defensive tackle from Virginia, Tim Settle has collected over 30 scholarship offers from some of the nation's top schools. One of those schools is Penn State, which will host him for a visit this weekend:
Going to Penn State this weekend !!!!!!— Tim Settle (@tim_settle) April 3, 2014
If the wounds from Thomas Holley's decommitment are still fresh for Nittany Lion fans, nabbing Settle would almost certainly heal those. The 6'3", 318-pound monster, who's athletic for his size and has a quick first step, could slide into the starting lineup as a freshman. Defensive line coach Sean Spencer would love to get his hands on a talent like Settle.
The sweepstakes for his services appear to be wide open at this point, with recruiting experts predicting a variety of schools as his eventual landing spot. In this case, Penn State's coaching staff needs to make a lasting impression this weekend.
Settle is ranked as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the country, and the No. 21 prospect overall. His future is certainly bright wherever he lands, as Rod Johnson of VirginiaPreps.com said last summer that Settle has "unlimited potential." For Penn State, getting Settle to commit would be a huge statement for he program.
Secondary is an area of need for Penn State in the 2015 recruiting cycle, and 4-star cornerback John Reid is arguably the program's top target in that category.
Reid was on hand for Penn State's junior day back in February. The program has been interested in him for quite some time, dating back to before former head coach Bill O'Brien even coached his first game.
The Pennsylvania native has very good instincts. His recovery speed and change of direction are also impressive, and he's a solid tackler to boot.
In case he needed it, Franklin is getting help in luring Reid. Running back Andre Robinson, who committed in late February, has said he'd try to convince Reid to follow him to State College:
Andre Robinson on top-three targets #PSU commits are working on recruiting: 1) Sterling Jenkins 2) John Reid 3) Jordan Whitehead.— Audrey Snyder (@audsnyder4) March 20, 2014
Rated as the sixth-best cornerback in the country, Reid is starting to garner some serious national attention. He picked up an Alabama offer in early March and also recently visited Notre Dame. Many recruiting pundits think Penn State is the heavy favorite to land him, but Franklin should try to lock him up before another team swoops in.
A commitment from Reid would easily give Penn State the best class in the country, while asserting James Franklin's dominance over the commonwealth.
Like Whitehead, 4-star offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins could also be nearing a verbal commitment. He recently dropped Pitt from consideration, and narrowed his list down to two teams: Penn State and Ohio State.
According to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Jenkins' high school coach has indicated that the Nittany Lions are his top choice:
Baldwin OT Sterling Jenkins is Rivals #1 '15 recruit in the state. His coach, Pete Wagner, told me, “Right now, (Penn State) is his No. 1."— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) April 2, 2014
He's one of the top players in Pennsylvania, and for good reason. Jenkins already has elite size (6'8", 305 lbs), and seems every bit the part of a bookend left tackle. With Donovan Smith slowly approaching an NFL career, there will soon be a hole at that position in Happy Valley.
Jenkins was in State College for Penn State's junior day back in February. Of the prospects on campus that weekend, five have since committed to the program.
Penn State has slowly emerged as the favorite to land Jenkins, and envisioning him in blue and white isn't as hard as it once was. He'd instantly provide the Nittany Lions with the boost needed to supplant Texas A&M in the national rankings.
Unless noted, all recruiting rankings and information came courtesy of 247Sports.