How the 5 highest rated recruits of James Franklin's tenure panned out at Penn State

Franklin scores impressive grades with notable failures and a questionable incomplete.
Penn State v Memphis
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No. 3 Justin Shorter & Ricky Slade

Recruiting Profile:

  • Wide Receiver/All Purpose Back
  • Shorter: South Brunswick HS (Monmouth Junction, NJ) Slade: C. D. Hylton HS  (Woodbridge, VA)
  • 247Sports Composite Five-star
  • Rated as top overall prospects in the states of Virginia and New Jersey, the nation’s top wide receiver and all-purpose back in the Class of 2018. Overall, 247Sports rated Shorter the No. 7 overall recruit in their composite and Slade No. 27.

Recruiting Expectations:

When the final analysis came in for Franklin’s 2018 recruiting class, many felt this was the class that was going to push Penn State into the same league as Ohio State and win a national championship. The three key recruits that fueled those expectations were Shorter, Slade, and Micah Parsons (more on him later).

Shorter was looked at in the same vein as Allen Robinson and Chris Godwin as the next big Penn State wide receiver. Slade’s ability as an athlete and serve many functions in the Nittany Lion offense, many felt he was a worthy successor to Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders to be the next great Penn State back.


Both Slade and Shorter had forgettable runs at Penn State. Shorter had 15 receptions for 157 yards in his two seasons at Penn State before transferring to Florida. Slade had a few glimpses in his freshman season where there was hope. A 94-yard and two-touchdown performance against Illinois and 64 yards and two scores against Maryland were his lone highlights as Slade couldn’t outperform Journey Brown and Noah Cain to gain any traction in 2019.

Slade Shorter. F. . . Ricky Slade and Justin Shorter

Easily Franklin’s biggest busts during his time here at Penn State. It was a major recruiting win but nothing more outside of that.