Penn State Recruiting: Early Success, Scholarship Limits Hindering Flexibility

Tim Tolley@@TimTolley_BRContributor IMay 23, 2014

Fans watch the second quarter of an NCAA college football game between Penn St and Central Florda at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. UCF won 34-31. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

James Franklin and the Nittany Lions came out of the gate on fire on the 2015 recruiting trail. Penn State has the second-ranked class in the country with 16 prospects verbally committed, which makes it difficult to find any negatives about the current situation.

Yet there are such things as "good problems", and Penn State is facing one right now.

Franklin and his staff have created so much momentum that they could probably land 40 kids in this recruiting cycle without batting an eye. Thanks to the sanctions levied on Penn State nearly two years ago, they'll only be able to accept around half that many.

Darius Fullwood says Penn State is 'full at DE'. Plans to visit Ohio State in June, decide after:

— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) May 16, 2014

There's no way that the coaching staff could have known that they would be so successful in their first round of recruiting at Penn State, so they didn't hesitate to accept commitments early on from kids eager to give their pledges.

Looking back, you have to wonder if they would do things a little differently. Now they're turning kids away with eight months remaining until signing day.

The most pressing conflict may be at cornerback where Penn State sits pretty with the top two corners in the state, but has commitments from none. 

Jordan Whitehead and John Reid are both 4-star corners ranked among the top five prospects in Pennsylvania. Both have Penn State among their top choices. Neither seem close to a decision.

In a regular setting, the staff could branch out and accept a verbal commitment from a fringe player at that position who wants to come on board. With the numbers game that Franklin has to play, a move like that could leave one of his top targets on the outside looking in.

Another Keystone State product, Josh Adams is high on Penn State. There's about a 50/50 chance that he'll end up playing linebacker or safety in Happy Valley. The problem right now is that Adams is considered a 4-star running back and the Nittany Lions already have two of them committed to the class of 2015.

With a little flexibility, Franklin would undoubtedly accept Adams as a running back, the position he wants to play. Unfortunately, it's not practical for a team with a limit of around 20 scholarships to give three of them out to one position. 

The staff will need to pull off a juggling act between now and February to fill up this class as strongly as possible. Meanwhile, there will be kids who lose their offers based on the timing of theirs and others' commitments. 

Penn State fans hope that Franklin is as good at juggling as he is at recruiting. If so, nobody in State College has anything to worry about.

All recruit rankings reference the 247Sports Composite scores.