Penn State nabs stud QB and many others in impressive 2014 recruiting push
It is true that the Penn State Football Team will be dealing with a couple NCAA sanctions in the upcoming years, and head coach Bill O’Brien made a quick departure for the NFL after it appeared that he was going to be the next face of the program in Happy Valley. Given these harsh realities, it might seem as though their 2014 Recruiting Class would suffer greatly. Luckily for fans of Penn State Football, that is not the case.
New coach James Franklin has hit the ground running and was able to lure a couple big-time recruits to campus using only the few weeks he had before the official February Signing Day. As a freshman, quarterback Christian Hackenberg came into the program and did a heck of a job in limited action over the course of the 2013 regular season, but Penn State made a proactive move by recruiting Michael O’Connor, a 6’5”, 223-pound four-star quarterback out of Florida who seems eerily similar to Hackenberg. This will obviously create a friendly rivalry that should greatly increase the stakes in spring practice.
Penn State landed a collection of four-star recruits, highlighted by De’Andre Thompkins, a 5’11″ sure-handed wide receiver with insane 4.41 40-yard dash speed and a thirst for soaking up as much of the game as he can. But the score of the entire bunch will likely end up being Saeed Blacknall, highly-touted recruit out of New Jersey who snags passes out of the air with ease thanks to his 6’3″ lanky frame and his nose for the football. What the team has in place with this trio is a young nucleus that could end up forming one of the most formative passing attacks in the nation in the next few years.
The team obviously continued its historic pedigree of defense by making an effort to land some of the strongest defensive players in the region. They didn’t exactly knock it out of the park, but young men who are expected to have an impact soon include linebacker Troy Reeder out of Wilmington, Delaware and defensive back Christian Campbell out of a small-town in Alabama. Both are big men expected to grow a few more inches, and both have posted staggering 40-yard dash times that have defensive coaches dreaming up possible schemes.
To have a change of the guard in terms of coaching during a critical period of recruiting is less than ideal, so fans should really be happy about what Coach Franklin has been able to do so far. Franklin got the attention of the college football world over the past three seasons while serving his head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores Football Program, and he comes to Penn State determined to make this job the signature one of his impressive career, where he has climbed the ranks from being a Wide Receivers Coach at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania in 1985 to the lead figure of one of the most storied programs in college football history.