Penn State football could potentially flip this Alabama recruit without Nick Saban

After Nick Saban's retirement, all 2024 Alabama commits have 30 days to get out of their NLI, so James Franklin has a chance to flip a top wide receiver from Pennsylvania.
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody expected Nick Saban, the greatest college football coach of all time, to just walk away on Wednesday, but that’s exactly what he did. Now, the members of Saban’s final recruiting class who have yet to enroll at Alabama, have a 30-day window to get out of their National Letter of Intent. 

The sharks of college football are circling the No. 2 class in the country, and James Franklin should be right in the middle of the feeding frenzy. Penn State’s weakest position on the roster is wide receiver and it just so happens that Rico Scott, the No. 1 receiver out of the state of Pennsylvania in 2024 has a chance to change his mind. 

Scott committed to Alabama, choosing it over Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Colorado, and yes, Penn State. The 6-foot 185-pound receiver from Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg PA, could flip back to his home state, but Alabama is moving quickly to finalize Saban’s replacement and keep the class together. 

In the Peach Bowl, Ole Miss exposed the fact that Penn State doesn’t have a single SEC-caliber receiver on its roster. No Penn State wideout caught a pass until Liam Clifford in the fourth quarter.

The Nittany Lions added Julian Fleming, the No. 1 player from PA in the 2020 class to help at receiver, but new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki needs a skill set like Scott’s. Scott didn’t just play wide receiver in high school, he was also an elite running back and that’s the part of his game that is most appealing to Penn State. 

Last season, KeAndre Lambert-Smith led the Nittany Lions with 336 yards after the catch, but that only ranked 77th among wide receivers in the country. On the Penn State offense, 2-5 in terms of YAC were Nicholas Singleton, Tyler Warren, Theo Johnson, and Kaytron Allen, who are notably not wide receivers. 

Dante Cephas was the next-best receiver in terms of yardage after the catch at 82 yards and just 3.7 YAC per reception. The team has a desperate need for a dynamic playmaker on the outside and that’s what Scott is with the ball in his hands. 

Scott’s biggest strength is that he turned into a running back after making a catch. He’s dynamic in the screen game and can turn a shallow cross into a 60-yard touchdown. The four-star receiver would elevate Kotelnicki’s offense, maybe not in 2024, but certainly for 2025. 

Penn State’s best receiver in the 2024 class is another tight end, Luke Reynolds. But outside of Reynolds and four-star running back Quinton Martin, the best wide receiver is Josiah Brown, a three-star from New York. 

Franklin has done a great job addressing the weaknesses on Tom Allen’s defense with two SEC cornerback transfers, but Kotelnicki’s unit needs a boost. Franklin gave his new OC Fleming to solve that problem in the short term, but unless he can deliver a solution for the future, then he’ll be throwing darts in the transfer portal every offseason, and sometimes that turns out to be Dante Cephas. 

If he hasn’t already, Franklin should get on the phone with Scott and see if he’d consider staying closer to home.