The Penn State football program received a big boost last night, both literally and figuratively.
Shortly before landing the seventh-best dual-threat quarterback prospect in Brandon Wimbush, 6'8", 305-pound offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins gave his verbal pledge to James Franklin and the Nittany Lions.
Just announced my commitment to THE Penn State University!!🎉🔥🐾
— Sterling Jenkins⚡™ (@S_Jenkins72) May 6, 2014
Jenkins' commitment is the epitome of what Franklin had in mind when he said he intends to "dominate the state."
The 247Sports composite rating lists the mountain that is Jenkins as the fifth-best tackle prospect in the country and the top overall player coming out of Pennsylvania in 2015.
According to those same rankings, Penn State hadn't landed the top player from Pennsylvania since Justin King signed in 2005, and in that class, the Nittany Lions didn't land another in-state player ranked higher than No. 20.
|'15||Sterling Jenkins||OT||****||Penn State|
|'14||Dravon Henry||ATH||****||West Virginia|
|'12||Noah Spence||DE||*****||Ohio State|
|'11||Ben Koyack||TE||****||Notre Dame|
The 2015 class already includes six of the top 14 in-state prospects, and there's room for growth, as the Nittany Lions are in the mix for several others on that list.
While Franklin has exceeded expectations , pulling some of the top players from the Eastern Seaboard, locking down a commitment from Jenkins feels like a turning point.
Hailing from Pitt's backyard and holding offers from from Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan and Georgia, Jenkins chose the road less traveled and will head to Happy Valley to continue his academic and football careers.
Franklin and Nittany Nation hope it will serve as a turning point in the history of the program.
Being able to lock down the top local talent has a ripple effect in recruiting. Generally, players from the same areas attend the same camps and off-field functions and become familiar on the field. It can work as a form of peer pressure.
QB Brandon Wimbush just committed to Penn State. Ohio State had been in the running heavily, just like it had been with Sterling Jenkins— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) May 6, 2014
If you have 15 players at a given camp or seven-on-seven tournament and seven of them are committed to one school, the influence can be a huge factor.
And the timing couldn't be better.
The Keystone State boast seven 4-star recruits in the class of 2015, and next year's class is loaded with no fewer than eight prospects already rated as 4-star prospects. Penn State is in the mix for several of them already.
In an interview with KDKA, Pittsburgh's local CBS affiliate, Jenkins said the following about Coach Franklin: "I trust this guy. I believe in his vision and he's a guy I can work under."
Franklin's trustworthiness and confidence have become contagious on the recruiting trail. Seemingly every target Franklin sets his eyes on falls under his trance and truly buys into his pitch.
If this success continues, the new head coach will be able to deliver on his promises with a roster full of highly coveted recruits.
In the recruiting world, success and momentum feed off each other with a snowball effect. Dominating the state in 2015 will breed more success and create more momentum for future recruiting endeavors, making the sky the limit.
Fans who weren't around to experience the 1980s are seeing the true potential of this football program for the first time. That includes the top high school prospects from in and around the Commonwealth.
All recruit ratings courtesy of the 247Sports composite rating.