Penn State Football: 'Signature Event' Draws Big Crowd as Nittany Lions Sign Up 2014 Class
Penn State football followed its own mantra on Wednesday night taking things to the "Next Level".
Thousands of Nittany Lion faithful filed into the Bryce Jordan Center to hear head coach James Franklin talk about the 2014 recruiting class. The show, that included musical entertainment, twirlers, cheerleaders and dancers, is truly a sign of a new era in Happy Valley.
With guest speaker and former linebacker Michael Mauti hyping up the crowd and Penn State legend LaVar Arrington moderating the conversation it was a change of pace for a program that has glossed over National Signing Day in the past.
Fans have joked about Penn State finally making it to the modern era of college football, but Wednesday night's pep rally shows how fans want to be a part of the football team's inner workings.
For many fans, Wednesday night was also their first chance to hear from Penn State's new head coach in public. Franklin used that time to share his personality with the crowd cracking a few jokes and telling the crowd of about 5,000 fans that he was at Penn State to take the team to new heights and bring people back together.
But the hype and excitement aside, what did Penn State get in its 2014 recruiting class?
Exactly what it needed.
It doesn't take a recruiting expert to know that when you have a star quarterback two things are important. Giving him talent to work with and giving him protection while he's in the pocket.
"The three biggest needs that I looked at just looking at the roster, the most glaring is offensive tackle," Franklin said on Wednesday. "We had two scholarship offensive tackles in the program. That's not the position that you want to be in, so that was a priority for us, getting offensive linemen with length that can play offensive tackle with us."
Penn State will bring in four offensive tackles in Brendan Brosnan, Noah Beh, Chance Sorrell, and Chasz Wright. That should give Penn State a number of options to work with and lots of talent to mold for the future. No matter how good Christian Hackenberg might be, he can't execute plays if he's laying on his back. Franklin is excited about all of the prospects, but seems to be very excited about what Beh brings to the table.
"After that to me you look at our roster, we got a quarterback that we feel really good about and it would be a shame if we didn't find some talent to surround him with," Franklin said.
They'll need some extra talent with the departure of Allen Robinson to the NFL this past offseason.
"Not saying that we don't have that in the program already but building more depth and more playmakers at the tight end position and wide receiver and I think we helped ourselves there. ... Our coaches did a great job recruiting those guys, but it helps when you have Hackenberg, he's going to attract those guys as well."
This is an area that Penn State may have done the best. Offensive weapons with four-star ratings gives Franklin and more importantly Hackenberg plenty of talent to work with down the road. Four-star tight end Mike Gesicki will join the ranks of Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman as another unique target this season. Chris Godwin and Saeed Blacknall will be among the receivers looking to replace Robinson.
There's no shortage of offensive talent on the team even before you consider the new recruits -- but the more options you have the better. Especially if injuries become a factor with a limited roster.
Penn State also focused on the safety position and brought in two talented prospects to fill holes down the road. The Nittany Lions' recruitung class may very well sneak into the Top 25 and third best in the Big Ten. In the highly publicized world of recruiting it can be easy to get caught up in stars and rankings and overall numbers. But Penn State went out and recruited players that fit its needs and recruited well in those areas.
And that's more important than anything else.