In July 2021, Penn State began a remarkable recruiting spree that resulted in 13 commitments (not all of which stayed) across two classes. Although July 2022 won’t match this in numbers, it was an impressive month for Leos. Specifically, Penn State had a week to remember.
Three players, including two of Pennsylvania’s top-ranked prospects, joined Penn State’s 2022 class last week. The latest defensive landmark Ta’Mere Robinsondid so one year after the commitment of lineman Alex Birchmeier, which caused the class to reboot.
As Penn State catches its recruiting breath, let’s recap the past few weeks and examine where the program is headed.
Penn State’s July Run
Recruitment is a constant game of escapes and failures. Consider what happened on July 15, 2021, when Virginia lineman Alex Birchmeier joined the class of Lions. Technically, Birchmeier was the second player to commit to Penn State’s class of 2023, following Mathias “Mega” Barnwell in 2020
However, Barnwell withdrew before rejoining the class in September 2021). So things can always change.
However, Penn State celebrated Birchmeier’s anniversary with the commitment of Robinson, a 4-star prospect from Pittsburgh. Robinson capped a week in which the Lions landed commitments from three 4-star recruits, each with a unique pedigree.
London Montgomery is the top ranked running back in Pennsylvania and Tony Rojas is the No. 1 quarterback in Virginia. Robinson made the 19th commitment of the Class of 2023 and the Fourth of July.
Will Penn State go on a similar run in July 2021? That’s unlikely considering the Lions received a blizzard of July commitments last year, a total of 13 from players in seven states across two classes. But the two years have a common denominator.
In 2021, Penn State took advantage of the restart of on-campus recruiting visits, allowing the coaching staff to work their magic in person. These recent commitments followed a similar course, as seven players who took official visits in June committed.
Penn State recruits better in Pennsylvania
In its 2021 recruiting class, Penn State signed just one of 247Sports’ top 10 Pennsylvania players, Lonnie White Jr., who subsequently signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The past two classes have improved significantly as coach James Franklin and his staff have recalibrated their approach to recruiting at Pennsylvania.
Penn State signed six of the top 10 in Pennsylvania’s 2022 class, including top-ranked Nicholas Singleton. And Robinson became Pennsylvania’s fifth top-10 player from the 2023 class to commit to the Lions.
“Everybody is saturating the state and putting an emphasis on that,” Andy Frank, Penn State’s director of player personnel, said in 2020. That’s key because Penn State needs to keep talent in the state as much as possible.
Let’s stay strong in Virginia
When former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry became the head coach at Virginia Tech, he promised to “be competitive,” recruiting the community against his former team. So far, Penn State has run serves.
Rojas became the fourth Virginia top-20 player to commit to Penn State. The Lions have more Virginia top-20 commitments than any other program. The Commonwealth has always been a solid recruiting ground for Penn State, and Franklin continues that.
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It is increasing its presence in the south
Five of Penn State’s 19 commits are from Florida or Alabama, representing another large percentage of recruits from the South. Not all have stuck around over the years, but Penn State still remains committed to finding talent from a highly competitive recruiting landscape.
The addition of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will improve those prospects, said John Garcia Jr., Sports Illustrated’s director of football recruiting.
“I think the combination of [running backs coach Ja’Juan] Seider and Diaz down south is something to be reckoned with,” Garcia said.
What’s next for Penn State’s class of 2023?
The Lions still need a quarterback after Marcus Stokes switched his commitment to Florida. This is a significant requirement, as the program will currently only have three scholarship quarterbacks for 2023: Christian Veile, Drew Allar and Bo Pribula.
During the transfer window and NIL, Penn State cannot assume it will keep a quarterback from year to year. Watch for the Lions to get aggressive in trying to recruit an already committed quarterback.
Where does Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class rank?
After Robinson’s commitment, the Lions jumped to No. 3 in the 247 Sports rankings behind Notre Dame and Ohio State.
ESPN: No. 5 (before Rojas and Robinson commitments)
At 3: No. 8
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AllPennState is the destination for Penn State news, opinion and outlook on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wagenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (the button is on the home page) for more great content on the SI.com network.