History repeats itself as Penn State loses out to Ohio State for blue-chip wide receiver recruit

Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship #0 Quincy Porter
Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship #0 Quincy Porter / Michael Karas/NorthJersey.com / USA

One of James Franklin’s biggest wins of the offseason was bringing Julian Fleming back home. Fleming was the No. 1 player in the state of Pennsylvania when he committed to Ohio State back in 2020 choosing the Buckeyes over the in-state Nittany Lions. The decision felt like a gut punch at the time, but it was the continuation of a trend that has doomed Penn State in every head-to-head matchup with its biggest Big Ten rivals since 2016, and on Friday, it happened again. 

One of Penn State’s most coveted offseason targets was New Jersey four-star wide receiver Quincy Porter and this past weekend, after visits to Happy Valley, Columbus, and Ann Arbor, he committed to play for Ryan Day. Even after multiple rounds of official visits, Franklin’s 2025 class only includes one wide receiver, three-star Lyrick Samuel, while he’s already locked up three running backs. 

For whatever reason, likely Ryan Day’s stellar track record of wide receiver development, Ohio State continues to pluck the most intriguing high school talent right out of Penn State’s grasp. It’s not just a weakness of the program but a systemic failure when it happens on home soil, and that was on full display in 2023. 

The 2023 Buckeyes were the most vulnerable team that Day has trotted out on the field in years, despite an elite defense led by Jim Knowles, Kyle McCord struggled to produce enough offense for that to matter. Yet, when facing an equally talent Penn State defense, McCord leaned on his high school teammate from St. Joseph’s prep in Philadelphia, Marvin Harrison Jr. who was already well on his way to being the top wide receiver selected in a generation NFL draft class at the position. 

Harrison torched Kalen King for 162 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, leading his Buckeyes to a 20-12 victory. Even Fleming, who never lived up to his five-star potential in Columbus, caught one pass for nine yards. 

Maybe Penn State deserves a pass for missing on Harrison. The Nittany Lions had a commitment from the No. 1 wide receiver in that state Lonnie White Jr. before the Pittsburgh Pirates came in with an offer well over slot value in the 2021 MLB Draft to pry him away from the football field. Still, Franklin and his offensive coaching staff have routinely been beaten out for top wide receivers and it’s not clear what’s being done to turn the tide, or if that’s even possible. 

The official visit cycle looked promising, especially after hiring Andy Kotelnicki to run the offense and landing Fleming in the portal. Penn State had official visits lined up for Porter, four-star Phillip Bell from California, and four-star Matthew Outten from Virginia, but the options are beginning to dry up in the hot summer sun. Porter is a Buckeye and after his official visit on Friday, it appears Bell soon may be too, if he’s not heading to USC instead. 

Franklin deserves credit for going into Ohio and grabbing the No. 1 quarterback in the country in 2022, but since then he hasn’t been able to surround Drew Allar with enough offensive talent to compete for a Big Ten title. With the loss of Porter and the recent rumors of Bell’s infatuation with the Buckeyes coming out of his visit, it’s the same old story and unfortunately, we know how this one ends.