An early look at Penn State's 2015 recruiting

By Derek Levarse dlevarse@civitasmedia.com

February 19, 2014

At Vanderbilt, James Franklin managed to back up the talk.
He said the Commodores would win more than ever before. They did. He said they'd sign top-25 recruiting classes. They did. He said they'd lay the foundation to improve the program's facilities. They did.
On the bigger stage of Penn State with expectations higher, however, it's reasonable to wonder if the new coach's bold proclamations could backfire on him.
It remains to be seen, for example, whether he'll successfully get 107,000 people to show up for that home opener against Akron in September. Or how aggressive the team will actually be able to play given the depth issues.
But what we can begin to evaluate at this point is the job Franklin's staff is doing on the recruiting trail.
Just two weeks removed from signing day for 2014, the Nittany Lions now have four verbal commitments for the 2015 class. Whitehall running back Saquon Barkley was the latest, announcing Wednesday he had flipped from Rutgers to join Penn State's class.
He joins Archbishop Wood offensive lineman Ryan Bates, Maryland defensive end Kamonte Carter and Connecticut defensive back Jarvis Miller.
Barkley, Bates and Carter are all four-star recruits in the early version of the 247 Composite rankings, though Barkley and Miller and haven't been rated by all four major services just yet.
A fast and productive start for 2015 by any metric. And importantly for Franklin and his Dominate the State mantra, he already has two of the state's top 10 prospects in the fold in Barkley and Bates.
Barkley is part of an impressive crop of running backs in Pennsylvania this cycle and Bates was an anchor on the Archbishop Wood team that smacked Berwick in the 3A state semis this past season. His teammate, linebacker Jake Cooper, is considered to be a heavy lean to join Bates at Penn State.
We'll be updating the recruiting map here throughout the year to track both commitments and scholarship offers to try and get a big-picture look at the new coaching staff's recruiting style.
For starters, the map below just shows the verbal commitments. But you can click on "PSU offers" to show many of the players around the country the staff is targeting. This offers list is by no means comprehensive, especially because there's a bit of a gap between players O'Brien's staff had been in contact with, and obviously there's not all of those ties are going to be re-established by Franklin's staff.
You can also click the fullscreen button in the top right corner of the map to expand it.
All star ratings and recruiting rankings reflect the 247Sports Composite list, which factors in scouting profiles from 247, Scout, Rivals and ESPN. As this is still early in the cycle, those numbers will change a good bit over the course of the year.