Penn State loses out on elite cornerback in the 2025 class after his official visit

James Franklin had to go into the transfer portal to solve his secondary this offseason and if Penn State keeps missing out on high-level cornerbacks, he and Tom Allen may need to do it again next year.
Penn State Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Tom Allen
Penn State Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Tom Allen / Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The summer is the season of official visits and over the weekend, James Franklin had 12 elite high school recruits in Happy Valley. While Franklin’s 2025 high school class is coming together nicely, Penn State has yet to land any commitments from that crop of visits, but one player who was on campus did make his decision this week. 

On Wednesday afternoon, four-star cornerback Graceson Littleton announced his commitment to Clemson, choosing Dabo Swinney’s Tigers over James Franklin’s Nittany Lions. The Tampa Florida product also considered Alabama and had official visits scheduled with Oklahoma and Iowa later this month. Penn State’s 2025 class only includes one defensive back so far, three-star Xxavier Thomas from Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, so Littleton was certainly a high-priority recruit. 

Swinney and Franklin have some similarities in their team-building philosophies, though Swinney is much more devout in his beliefs. Neither program leans heavily on the transfer portal for talent acquisition and both are lagging behind the sport’s other preeminent programs in terms of their NIL capacities. 

While Swinney didn’t take any incoming transfers this offseason, Franklin only added six players and two were cornerbacks. The position was identified as a weakness on the roster, so while Franklin found a stop-gap in Jalen Kimber and A.J. Harris appears to be a long-term solution, Penn State must continue to add high school talent to the defensive backfield. 

With Littleton off the board, Penn State and new defensive coordinator Tom Allen still have options at cornerback for the 2025 class. Four-star Brandon Finney was on campus with Littleton last weekend, and four other uncommitted corners are scheduled for official visits this month, Daryus Dixon, Onis Konanbanny, Jahmir Joseph, and Dawayne Galloway. 

Franklin and his staff don’t need to land all four of those recruiting targets, but going 0-for-4 could mean another costly trip to the transfer portal for Franklin next offseason.

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