In a matter of days, all of the speculation will be over. While verbal commitments are great, nothing is official until the letters of intent start rolling in. On February 5th, the Penn State Nittany Lions will have their 2014 class finalized. This class is unique, as it was started by the previous coaching staff, led by Bill O’Brien, but finished by the new staff that is headed by head coach James Franklin. However, as good as the class looks now, there could still be some changes. When dealing with teenagers, it’s not unusual to have some change their minds.
When Franklin took over, the class was already a top-20 class, as O’Brien did a great job of getting top talent to commit to Penn State. However, when the Nittany Lions’ top recruit, defensive tackle Thomas Holley, decided to flip to his second choice, Florida, several people in the Penn State community began to worry. However, Franklin quickly went to work and built the class back up, adding several verbal commitments from guys who could push the class back into the top-20 when the final rankings.
Currently, the Nittany Lions have 24 recruits coming in for the 2014 season. Five of those, including 4-star quarterback Michael O’Connor and 4-star wide receiver De’Andre Thompkins, were early enrollees and have already been on campus for a few weeks. Of the 19 remaining verbal commitments, there is a good balance, with nine players listed on defense and 10 listed on offense.
The 19 verbal commitments that Penn State has heading into National Signing Day seem to all be fairly solid. I am not expecting anyone to back out, especially since most of them decided to stay even after the coaching change. Six of the players were previously committed to Franklin at Vanderbilt.
With that being said, defensive end Lloyd Tubman, who was one of those who flipped from Vanderbilt, has continued to take official visits to other schools after committing to the Nittany Lions. He’s visited both Kentucky and Nebraska and could be a last-minute change on February 5th.
While there shouldn’t be any surprises with current Penn State commits deciding to flip, there could be one or two recruits who decide to come to Happy Valley at the last minute. One of those names to keep an eye on is Michigan State commit Montae Nicholson. He’s a 4-star defensive back who we featured in a wish list post last week.
The stud defensive player is from Western Pennsylvania, specifically Gateway High School in Monroeville. His former coach was Terry Smith, who is now the cornerbacks coach at Penn State. The Nittany Lions got into the battle for Nicholson late, but could end up surprising many by keeping the in-state stud at home.
National Signing Day is always exciting, but this year it has even more meaning, as Penn State fans are excited to see how well new head coach James Franklin does at bringing the best talent to play for the Nittany Lions.
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