“It is the first full class since I have been here. It was our first year back to full scholarships on the field and it was the first year back to full scholarships during recruiting”, said James Franklin on the Big Ten Network this afternoon. The 2017 recruiting class will end up top fifteen nationally and third in the Big Ten.
The strength of this class has to be how complete it is. From the top to the bottom, the class is breaking at the seal with talent. At the top, Sean Clifford is a winning quarterback who has shown leadership qualities since the very beginning of the cycle. Lamont Wade, Castro-Fields, and Donovan Johnson are three outstanding four-star defensive backs.
Along the trenches, Penn State has found plenty of reinforcements. Mike Miranda and CJ Thorpe are going to be absolute bullies to opposing defensive linemen. The other side of scrimmage features four crafty defensive ends/outside linebackers and the Fred Hansard-Corey Bolds defensive tackle duo. The defense is going to be loaded with a lot of speed and demeanor moving forward.
Finally, the class holds significant playmakers. Mac Hippenhammer, who will play baseball for Penn State as well as football, will be an athletic receiver to keep your eye on. Additionally, who wouldn’t want a running back that scored 10 touchdowns and 720 yards in ONE game? Journey Brown is the only running back in the country who has done that.
The class is weak at linebacker. After Dylan Rivers flipped to Virginia Tech, Penn State successfully reeled in Ellis Brooks to save this class from a monumental collapse at the linebacker position. As we saw last season, three to four injuries can put a program in a bind. It would have been nice if the Nittany Lions could have captured one more true-linebacker.
Although there are plenty of athletes in this class, Penn State didn’t dominate the state when it came to De’Andre Swift and Mark Webb, who both left the state for Georgia. Two of these four-stars would have upgraded this recruiting class from great to excellent.
Penn State’s recruiting classes under Head Coach James Franklin has been a drastic improvement then the waning years under Paterno and O’Brien. Now, with the recent success the program has obtained, Penn State has more recruiting momentum for the future. Five years later, when we look back, the 2016 season and 2017 recruiting class could be the unsung stepping-stones to a remarkable 2017 season and 2018 recruiting class.