Prepare for a Recruiting Summer Unlike Anything You Have Ever Seen in College Football

By Matt de Bear on June 1, 2021 at 8:00 am
Dec 28, 2019; Arlington, Texas, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts to a touchdown in the game against the Memphis Tigers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As of midnight today, for the first time since March of 2020, high school prospects can have in-person contact on college campuses with coaching staffs. The year-plus long recruiting dead period brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic is officially in the past. 

Perhaps no program in college football was impacted by the ban on in-person visits more than Penn State. For as long as recruiting has been a part of college sports, the Nittany Lions have relied on getting players to Happy Valley at a much higher rate than their peers. It makes sense when you think about it. For as much as Nittany Nation loves Central Pennsylvania, it's the kind of place most of us had to experience a time or two to fall in love. That holds true for high schoolers that happen to be bigger, stronger, and faster than others too. 

A year after everything went wrong for James Franklin and the Lions, both on the field and on the recruiting trail, a sense of normalcy will return to Lasch Building as prospective players begin walking through the doorway. Franklin and his staff will once again have the most powerful tools in their box available to them when trying to woo the nation's best to Penn State: Happy Valley, and face-to-face relationship building.

That all could mean another elite-level class for the Nittany Lions. As of today, Penn State boasts 11 verbal commitments, and ranks sixth nationally according to 247Sports. That group is currently headlined by elite wide receiver Kaden Saunders, offensive tackle Drew Shelton, quarterback Drew Allar, and big-time Pennsylvania athlete Mekhi Flowers, among others. All told, seven of the 11 commits are ranked four-star prospects by the 247Sports Composite.

That list figures to grow in the next couple of months, both in terms of quantity, and quality. The Lions will welcome the likes of four-star defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton, four-star running back Nicholas Singleton, five-star safety Keon Sabb, four-star athlete Christian Driver, four-star running back Omarion Hampton, four-star wide receiver Darius Clemons, four-star linebacker Moses Walker, four-star cornerback Keenan Nelson Jr., four-star defensive back Jaeden Gould, and many more over the next month before the traditional July dead-period arrives. All told, Ryan Snyder and the crew at BWI have identified over 70 players expected to visit campus this month, both officially and unofficially.

While it would not be surprising to see a few of those visitors join the class on their visits, or shortly after, the following month could be where the real fireworks come. Many players have held off on committing during the spring while waiting for the visit window to reopen as it now is. With many of those players having yet to see any collegiate campuses and visit with coaches in person, expect the huge majority to take advantage of those opportunities in June before making a decision in July prior to their own seasons.

Welcome back to the recruiting trail, Nittany Lions.