James Franklin and Penn State football miss out on 2025 No. 1 player in Pennsylvania

James Franklin has missed on the top high school player in Pennsylvania in back-to-back years with offensive tackle Kevin Haywood heading to Wisconsin in 2024 and quarterback Matt Zollers, the top player in 2025, committing to Missouri.
Penn State head football coach James Franklin
Penn State head football coach James Franklin / Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

The best in PA stay in PA has long been the mantra of James Franklin who, like almost every Power Five college football coach, wants to put up a recruiting border around his home state. Well, that fence around Pennsylvania seems to have quite a few gaps for the top players to sneak out of. 

On Thursday, four-star quarterback Matt Zollers, the top overall player in Pennsylvania in the 2025 class, committed to Missouri, choosing the Tigers over Penn State, Pitt, and Georgia. Zollers is from Royerford PA, outside of Philadelphia, and plays his high school football at Spring-Ford High School, about two-and-a-half hours away from Beaver Stadium.

Starting with Julian Fleming, the No. 1 overall player in PA in the 2020 class, through Nolan Rucci in 2021, Nick Singleton in 2022, and J’ven Williams the top player in the state in 2023, Penn State has four consecutive top recruits on the roster, though two transferred back this offseason (Fleming and Rucci). Now, Franklin has missed on his second straight PA No. 1, this time a quarterback who could have been the successor to Drew Allar. 

Luckily, Franklin was able to identify Ethan Grunkemeyer early in the recruiting process and get the four-star QB out of Ohio to sign and early-enroll this winter, but missing on Zollers is a massive blow. Now, there is a ton of pressure on Grunkemeyer, especially if Allar has his breakout season in 2024 and heads for the NFL Draft a year from now. 

Penn State still has the No. 6 class in the country for 2025 with 11 commits including 6-foot-5 quarterback Bekkem Kritza. Kritza is just a three-star and with a slender 180-pound frame, he will take a while to be ready for Power Five football if he ever develops. 

The most logical player uncommitted player for Penn State to turn its attention to is four-star QB from Archbishop Spalding High School in Maryland, Malik Washington. He has been offered by Penn State and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki is leading the recruiting effort.

Next. Transfer portal players contacted by Mike Rhoades. Transfer portal players contacted by Mike Rhoades. dark