Dominate the state of… Virginia
Since arriving at Penn State in 2014, James Franklin has put an emphasis on keeping the best talent from the state of Pennsylvania at home.
He did a pretty good job of that in the 2022 cycle, landing eight of the top 14 recruits from the state. He came back in 2023 and grabbed six of the top ten in PA.
Job well done.
It’s the job Franklin and his staff did in Virginia though that is really impressive.
The Nittany Lions landed six commits from Virginia. That group (with state ranking) includes Alex Birchmeier (No.1), Tony Rojas (No. 2), Kaveion Keys (No. 4), Carmelo Taylor (No. 7), Mathias Barnwell (No. 8) and Anthony Donkoh (No. 10).
For comparison, Penn State only landed one recruit from Virginia in 2022 and that was the 16th ranked recruit in Tyler Johnson.
This was pure domination by the Nittany Lions.
But how did the drastic difference between the 2022 class and the 2023 happen? It’s pretty simple, coaching changes.
Both Virginia Tech and Virginia moved on from their head coach after the 2021 season and brought in a new staff for the 2022 season. The Nittany Lions took advantage of the fact that these new staffs did not have strong relationships with recruits, whereas Franklin and his staff did.
The two Virginia schools must also go through a rebuild, and that’s not something that is attractive to many high-profile recruits. On the flip side, Penn State just went 10-2 and is headed to the Rose Bowl.
Will this success continue in 2024? Only time will tell but Franklin and Penn State have built strong relationships in Virginia.