In July of 2021, Penn State went on an incredible recruiting spree that led to 13 commitments (not all stuck) across two classes. Although July 2022 will not match the numbers, the month has been impressive for Leos. Penn State in particular 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 structure, in defense Ta’Mere Robinsondid so on the one-year anniversary of the commitment of linebacker Alex Birchmeier that restarted the class.
As Penn State picks up the recruiting spirit, let’s recap the past few weeks and explore where the program is headed.
Penn State July Term
Recruiting is a perpetual game of running and stumbling. Consider what happened on July 15, 2021, when Virginia was the line Alex Birchmeier joined the class of Lions. Technically, Birchmeier was the second player to commit in Penn State’s 2023 class, behind Mathias ‘Mega’ Barnwell in 2020.
However, Barnwell committed before rejoining the class in September 2021). So things can always change.
That said, 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 highest ranked run in Pennsylvania, and Tony Rojas is the No. 1 linebacker in Virginia. Robinson landed the 19th commitment of the 2023 class and the fourth of July.
Will Penn State continue on a run similar to July 2021? That’s unlikely, considering last year the Lions received a flurry of July commitments, 13 in all from players in seven states across two classes. But the two years have a common denominator.
In 2021, Penn State took advantage of the resumption of on-campus recruiting visits, allowing the coaching staff to work its magic in person. These latest commitments have followed a similar course, having seven players take official visits in June.
Penn State is recruiting better in Pennsylvania
In the 2021 recruiting class, Penn State signed just one of 247Sports’ top 10 players in Pennsylvania, Lonnie White, Jr., who went on to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The last two classes have improved significantly, as coach James Franklin and his staff recalibrated their approach to recruiting in Pennsylvania.
Penn State signed six of the top 10 in Pennsylvania’s 2022 class, including top-ranked Nicholas Singleton. And Robinson became the fifth top-10 player in Pennsylvania’s 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, as Penn State needs to keep as much in-state talent as possible.
Standing strong in Virginia
When former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry became the head coach at Virginia Tech, he promised to “be competitive” recruiting Commonwealth against his former team. So far, Penn State has held the serve.
Rojas became the fourth player in Virginia’s top 20 to commit to Penn State. The Lions have more Virginia top-20 commitments than any other program. The Commonwealth has always been strong recruiting ground for Penn State, and Franklin is continuing that.
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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 everyone has stuck around over the years, but Penn State still remains committed to getting talent from a very competitive recruiting territory.
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 flipped his commitment to Florida. This is a crucial requirement since as of now, the program will have just three scholarship quarterbacks for 2023: Christian Veilleux, Drew Allar and Beau Pribula.
During the time of the Transfer Portal and the NIL, Penn State cannot assume that it will retain any quarterback from year to year. Look for the Lions to get aggressive in an attempt to recruit an already committed quarterback.
Where does Penn State’s 2023 recruiting class rank?
Following Robinson’s commitment, the Lions jumped to third in the 247Sports rankings behind Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Rivals: No. 5
ESPN: No. 5 (before the engagements of Rojas and Robinson)
On the 3rd: No. 8
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AllPennState is the home for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, following three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button on homepage) for more great content on the SI.com network.