Penn State Football Spring Practice

Penn State head coach James Franklin, during the last day of Spring practice at Beaver Stadium in State College Friday April 23, 2021.

Since college football recruiting fully opened June 1 for the first time in over a year, James Franklin and his staff have kept the gas pedal to the floor.

Penn State has hosted a prospect camp every week this month. It has hosted official and unofficial visits from recruits virtually every day.

This weekend, June 25-27, is the last for campus visits before another dead period begins July 1. Franklin is planning a retreat for his staff in Lancaster next month.

Some inroads appear to have been made by a program that was hit hard by the pandemic and, by Franklin’s admission, had done a poor job of recruiting in the previous (high school class of 2021) cycle.

The 2022 class ranks fifth in the country according to the composite ranking-of-rankings compiled by 24/7 Sports. With 12 commitments, seven of them four-stars, Penn State trails only, in reverse order, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame and (insert groan from Nittany Nation here) top-ranked Ohio State.

Contrast that with the Class of 2021, which ranked 21st in the country and an unsightly sixth in the Big Ten Conference.

The No. 5 rank for ’22 might even be deceptively low. It includes the top-ranked punter in the country, Alex Bacchetta of Atlanta. Because he’s a punter, Bacchetta doesn’t have a star-rating, although he was recruited by Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

Notables:

*The most intriguing player in the ’21 class might be Lonnie White, a multi-sport star at Malvern Prep whom Franklin has called, “our Bo Jackson, our Deion Sanders.’’

White played QB in high school, although he’ll probably be a wide receiver in college. And a centerfielder. Unless he turns pro in baseball, which is apparently a possibility becased on how White fares in next month’s MLB draft.

He’s the 72nd ranked baseball player in his high school class, according to MLB.com. That’s down 20 spots in a week, which could indicate a growing belief among major-league teams that White is indeed going to college.

*2022 quarterback Drew Allar is Penn State’s highest-ranked QB recruit since Christian Hackenberg. At 6-4 ½ and 228 pounds, Allar is also arguably Franklin’s first recruit who could truly be called a pro-style QB.

Allar, from Medina, Ohio, finished first in the Elite 11 Regional camp competition in Indianapolis last month, becoming one of 20 QBs in the country who earned a berth in the Elite 11 Finals, to be held June 30-July 3 in Los Angeles.

Allar’s offers included Notre Dame, Michigan and Texas A&M. They did not, notably, include Ohio State, since he’s an Ohioan. Probable explanation: Ohio State has a commitment from Texas QB Quinn Ewers, the top-ranked overall player in the class.

*Penn State added a player from the transfer portal this week: A. J. Lytton, a CB from Upper Marlboro, Md. who left Florida State in February.

Lytton played in 22 games for the Seminoles over two seasons, with one start. He was a five-star recruit out of high school in 2018, and is expected to begin classes in Happy Valley next week.

Yes, the Nittany Lions have a lot of defensive backs.

*Penn State defensive end Arnold Ediketie, a Temple transfer, was No. 25 on a list of 50 most important players from the transfer portal by Bruce Feldman of the Athletic this week.

Ediketie had 42 tackles, 8.5 TFLs, four sacks and three forced fumbles in just six games for the Owls in 2020. D-end is a glaring need for Penn State, Odafe Oweh and Shaka Toney having moved on to the NFL.

*Phil Steele, of the indispensable annual college football magazine, has picked Penn State to be the most improved team in the country.

Steele’s magazine won’t hit newsstands until next month, but he revealed his pick, largely based on statistical criteria, on the Paul Finebaum Show Wednesday.

“You saw them outgain teams by 120 yards per game (in 2020), despite their 4-5 record,’’ Steele said. “I think Franklin’s got the talent there to really have them up there at the top of the Big Ten.’’

*On the other hand, Penn State is a 4-½ point underdog in its season opener Sept. 4 at Wisconsin, according to vegasinsider.com.

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