The Hits and Misses of Penn State's Aggressive June Recruiting Run (2024)

Months of visits and years of consistent communication between recruits and coaches paid off for Penn State football in June. The Nittany Lions began the month struggling to keep up with conference foes such as Ohio State, Oregon and even Rutgers. But they entered July with a reassuring 20 commitments and one of the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes for the 2025 cycle.

Even with a pair of decommitments, head coach James Franklin earned nine commitments to nearly double what was once a 12-player class in mere weeks while also adding a verbal pledge from a key prospect of next year’s cycle. In doing so, the Nittany Lions jumped to No. 8 in the 247Sports Composite team rankings. Here’s an extensive breakdown of Penn State’s scorching hot June on the recruiting trail.

Who were Penn State's biggest gets of the month?

The Nittany Lions entered the month with question marks surrounding the future of multiple position groups, specifically wide receiver, quarterback and defensive line. But with six months until National Signing Day, Franklin mostly has quieted those concerns.

Franklin used his pipeline with Maryland’s McDonogh School to land 4-star wide receiver Jeff Exinor Jr. Exinor is a key addition for position coach Marques Hagans, who seeks to turn around a unit that struggled throughout the 2023 season.

Four-star defensive ends Jayden Woods, Max Granville and Cortez Harris — who committed just four days apart — provide stability on the edge for defensive line coach Deion Barnes, who has backed up a stellar first season as position coach with some major recruiting wins.

Penn State dipped into California to land its current top-ranked commitment for 2025, 4-star cornerback Daryus Dixson, and its quarterback of the future in 4-star 2026 prospect Troy Huhn.

Were there any misses?

The team’s former top linebacker recruit, 4-star DJ McClary, flipped his commitment to Rutgers on June 23, the same day Franklin earned pledges from Harris and 3-star safety Braswell Thomas. McClary had been committed since September.

Alvin Henderson appeared poised to lead Penn State’s future rushing attack but flipped his commitment to Auburn on June 21. The Nittany Lions quickly recuperated, though, replacing Henderson with 4-star Philadelphia running back Jabree Wallace-Coleman the next day.

Penn State was viewed as the favorite to land 4-star cornerback Brandon Finney, another McDonogh product, and 3-star safety Josh Johnson, but both players committed elsewhere. Finney made a verbal pledge to Oregon, while Johnson chose Louisville. The Nittany Lions also lost 4-star safety Kainoa Winston — the cousin of star defensive back Kevin Winston Jr. — to Michigan.

What were the most intriguing storylines of the commitment streak?

Franklin had earned just one commitment from a California prospect, Koa Farmer, since becoming Penn State’s head coach in 2014. He doubled that tally in June, landing Huhn and Dixson to expand the Nittany Lions’ recruiting reach to the West Coast amid the Big Ten arrival of former Pac-12 teams USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington.

Penn State’s geographic recruiting expansion didn’t end there. Woods hails from Kansas, typically uncharted territory before the Nittany Lions hired former Kansas Jayhawks’ offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki in December. Franklin coached Woods’ father, Justin, in 2007 while he was Kansas State’s offensive coordinator.

Penn State also dipped into Texas for the first time in three recruiting cycles to land Granville, a native of Sugar Land who became the program's highest-rated recruit from the Lone Star State.

What's left for Penn State recruiting?

The Nittany Lions could add several pieces before Signing Day arrives in December. Exinor and fellow blue-chip receiver Lyrick Samuel provide a good boost for Hagans and Kotelnicki, but Penn State likely wouldn’t mind adding 4-star receivers Lex Cyrus and/or Taz Williams Jr. to continue building a confident room.

The Nittany Lions bolstered their edge with Woods, Granville and Harris; all that’s left is to add some viable defensive tackles to round out Barnes’ line. Three-star lineman Randy Adiriki, a teammate of quarterback commit Bekkem Kritza, has been heavily tied to Penn State and could help address the issue.

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Seth Engle has covered Penn State football and men’s basketball for the past four years, most recently serving as the football editor of the Daily Collegian. His work has appeared in the Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, PennLive, Centre Daily Times and more. Follow him on X (or Twitter) @bigsengtweets.

The Hits and Misses of Penn State's Aggressive June Recruiting Run (2024)
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