2024 Recruiting Class is Most Important for Penn State Football in a decade
If Penn State Football is ever going to become a top tier program, and make the College Football Playoff, the 2024 recruiting cycle is make-or-break.
Many believe James Franklin has recruited at an elite level in his time at the helm of Penn State Football.
While the Nittany Lions are getting better overall classes, they have yet to find the consistency of getting multiple top 10 classes in a row.
If Penn State Football wants to compete with the top of the Big Ten, and specifically Ohio State, the Lions will need to start stringing together multiple top 10 recruiting classes in a four-year cycle.
Since the team rankings composite was created in 2010, only one team has won the national championship that didn’t have an average Top 10 class for a four-year cycle. That one team was Clemson in 2016 who finished an average of 12th.
While winning the national championship may seem like a stretch right now, making the College Football Playoff has similar statistics.
Since the playoff was created in 2014, all but three teams have had an average top-15 class in the previous four seasons. The only three teams who made it without were Michigan State (2015), Washington (2016), and Cincinnati (2021).
All of those teams were unable to win a playoff game and the games weren’t particularly close.
Franklin is finishing up his 10th recruiting class at Penn State.
There is a perception that Penn State Football has been recruiting at an elite level for those 10 years, and that simply isn’t the case.
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Here are the rankings of each of the Nittany Lion’s classes since 2014:
2014 – 24th
2015 – 14th
2016 – 20th
2017 – 15th
2018 – 6th
2019 – 12th
2020 – 15th
2021 – 21st
2022 – 6th
2023 – 12th (Pending)
Obviously, the first few seasons the Nittany Lions were just getting out of the sanctions era, so it would be expected that it would take a few years to ramp up the recruiting machine.
After Penn State’s Big Ten championship in 2016, and great team in 2017, there is a clear connection to the first top 10 class in 2018.
That class included five-star and now NFL superstar Micah Parsons. The issue was that the rankings started to decline year after year until the 2022 class that has just arrived on campus.
If we take the average four-year class for this year’s team, it would be ranked around #13 or #14. That would theoretically mean that Penn State Football should be a top 15 team this season, and still have a chance to make the playoff.
However, this is the reason for the importance of the 2024 class.
In 2018 Penn State finished sixth, and followed that up with a 12th and 15th ranked class. Last season, the Nittany Lions finished 6th and once again are 12th this season. Of course, the Nittany Lions need to hold onto that 12th ranking if not try and move up, but the class is mostly set in stone.
Franklin and his staff really need to pull in a top 10 class in 2024 to keep the Nittany Lions on track to make the College Football Playoff, and reach the level to compete for a national championship.
Currently, Penn State has just one commit for the 2024 class, a 4-star offensive lineman.
The 2024 class is currently ranked 16th with this one commit. A better-than-expected season could catapult this class into the top 10.
However, another down year like the last two seasons may waste the 2022 and 2023 classes like what had happened with the 2018 and 2019 classes.
Anything less than a 9-3 season this fall would probably prevent this class from being a top 10 class.
While Penn State may have their star quarterback and running back of the future with Drew Allar and Nick Singleton on campus, they still need to fill out the rest of the roster otherwise their talent may be wasted.
At some point Penn State Football needs to find a way to get over the top.
The Lions have been a tier two team for the past decade, and if they can’t find a way to move up to tier one now, then it may be time to move in a new direction.
The 2024 class will certainly be the most important of the Franklin era to date.
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