While James Franklin and his coaching staff are tying a bow on their first spring practice period this Saturday at the Blue-White Game, they'll also betrying to tie a bow on a very productive spring recruiting period.
It's been as successful a start as the Nittany Lions ever have had. As of midweek, Penn State's 2015 class was ranked second in the country by Scout.com and third by Rivals and 247Sports.
So far, the Nittany Lions have 11 recruits in the group. Eight of them are consensus four-star recruits.
Penn State will have a chance to add to that this weekend. While there always are changes at the last minute in who attends these spring scrimmages, there should be a strong group of prospects at Beaver Stadium for the Blue-White Game. Baldwin offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins, Maryland defensive tackle Adam McLean, New Jersey offensive tackle Grant Newsome and New Jersey linebacker Manny Bowen - the first three are universal four-star recruits or better, and Bowen, while a three-star, has a scholarship offer list (Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, for starters) that ranks right up there with any of them - are expected to head the list of uncommitted prospects in this class, and they'll be accompanied by a number of 2014 Lion signees, 2015 Penn State verbals and some top talent for next year's class.
Jenkins and McLean are rated as the top prospects in their respective states.
Jenkins, Bowen and three-star District of Columbia safety Ayron Monroe will be making their second trips to University Park in less than a month, so, with this staff's early track record, they'll definitely be on commitment watch if anyone is. New Jersey tight end-defensive end Jake Pickard is doing the same and might be one to watch for a verbal, too, providing he gets a scholarship offer. The mammoth 6-foot-8, 296-pound Jenkins, who recently narrowed his list of schools to Penn State and Ohio State, also is slated to return to Happy Valley in early May; there's been a lot of speculation on the Internet that he could pull the trigger for the Lions this week.
McLean, meanwhile, will be making his second visit to Happy Valley in two months. He originally was supposed to attend an Under Armour combine camp but switched things up, so his interest seems legitimate. He already has friends signed with Penn State, too.
Four interesting names for the next year's class also have shown up on anticipated visit lists this weekend. Ohio linebacker Brendan Ferns has been linked with Penn State for some time, and his older brother might have wound up a Nittany Lion if not for the sanctions, which now are fading away. So too has big Michigan running back Daelin Hayes. Another running back in that group is Woodland Hills' Miles Sanders.
Maryland wideout Trevon Diggs recently was added to that mix. His older brother, Stefon, was a five-star receiver and U.S. Army All-American at Good Counsel High School before signing with Maryland a couple of years ago and already has been an impact player for the Terrapins.
Saturday's game visits just will be the icing on the cake for what has been a successful start for Penn State under Franklin on the recruiting front.
This will be the fourth weekend in a row in which the Lions have brought in large groups of prospects. In the last month, top 2015 names like New Jersey quarterback Brandon Wimbush (he also was in for a February junior day), Central Valley cornerback Jordan Whitehead, Virginia defensive tackle Tim Settle, Maryland defensive end Darius Fullwood, Ohio tight end C.J. Conrad, D.C. guard Quarvez Boulware, Virginia tackle Matthew Burrell and Illinois offensive lineman Gabe Megginson have come through State College, as have notable future prospects like Sonny Abramson (New Jersey quarterback), Robert Washington (North Carolina running back), Michal Menet (Exeter lineman), Trey Sneed (Florida running back) and Jordan Fuller (New Jersey athlete).
In that time, Penn State's landed commitments from New Jersey wideout Juwan Johnson, Virginia receiver Brandon Polk, New Jersey guard Steven Gonzalez and Indiana linebacker Josh Barajas. With around a dozen scholarships still likely to be handed out, the Lions figure to address offensive tackle, defensive tackle, the secondary and linebacker most heavily.