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Penn State's 2022 Class Captures No. 6 Ranking Nationally

Penn State celebrated a successful Signing Day but has more recruiting needs to fill.

Penn State turned its weight room into a Signing Day studio on Wednesday, welcoming 23 new players in the 2022 recruiting class.

The Penn State class ended the day ranked sixth in Sports Illustrated's top 25 and second in the Big Ten behind Ohio State. After spending four hours on Zoom urging players to hug their moms, Penn State coach James Franklin jumped on a media Zoom to discuss the class.

Here are some highlights.

Penn State's recruiting class by the numbers

  • 23: Total number of signees
  • 16: Players rated 4-star or higher by the major recruiting services
  • 12: Offensive players
  • 10: Defensive players
  • 10: States represented
  • 8: Players participating in all-star games
  • 2: State champions
  • 1: Specialist (punter/kicker Alex Bacchetta)
  • 1: Gatorade National Player of the Year (Nicholas Singleton)

The 10 early enrollees are Drew Allar, Kaytron Allen, Jerry Cross, Zane Durant, Omari Evans, Cam Miller, JB Nelson, Beau Pribula, Kaden Saunders and Nicholas Singleton.

"We're pretty balanced across the board positionally," Franklin said. "The guys that we're bringing in obviously have different rankings and ratings, depending on who you're talking to. But the type of young men that we've been able to recruit, both as athletes with the types of body types that we're looking for in terms of growth, potential, athleticism, speed ... overall we're very, very pleased."

Franklin sees one of the nation's best quarterback classes

With Allar and Pribula, Franklin said Penn State signed "two of the better quarterbacks in all of college football in terms of signing classes."

Allar, Ohio's Mr. Football for 2021, arrives after throwing for more than 4,400 yards and 48 touchdowns at Medina (Ohio) High last season. And Pribula finished his senior year with a completion rate of 73 percent at Central York (Pa.) High.

"Drew's a guy that kind of did it old school," Franklin said. "As he went to camps and as he played the season, he just continued to do well, and his rankings continued to rise and people were really impressed with him. [He's a] big kid who can stand in a pocket and deliver the ball. I think people underestimated his athleticism as well. He does a great job making some of the plays that maybe aren't in the playbook in terms of extending plays and off-balance throws with unbelievable accuracy and playmaking ability."

Franklin said that Pribula "really had an unbelievable senior year. You look at the numbers he was able to put up and the wins that they were able to have this year, it was a special year. He made plays with his feet, he made plays with his arm, his touchdown/interception ratio was fantastic and his completion percentage was fantastic."

Franklin added that both quarterbacks understand how they will compete in the future.

"I think there's probably more similarities with them than there are differences, but there are some," Franklin said. "Obviously, Allar's a little bit bigger (6-5, 225), Pribula's maybe a little bit more athletic. But I think both of them have a lot of traits and skills that you look for and desire. And I love the fact that both of them are embracing the competition."

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The running backs could contribute early

Singleton and Allen form one of the nation's best tandem signings at running back. That they're both enrolling early gives them a runway to compete for playing time as freshmen.

Singleton is the nation's top-ranked running back, but Allen shouldn't be overlooked. The 225-pound back from Virginia rushed for more than 1,400 yards and scored 27 touchdowns at Florida's IMG Academy last season. Further, their skills are complementary.

"Both of them have a really impressive background, and obviously being here at mid-semester, those things help, so we'll see how that plays out," Franklin said. "It's interesting because, if you look at Kaytron, he has a different style. He's a physical guy. He's going to punish you.

"... But it's funny because people talk about it's almost like Thunder and Lightning and that Nick is this undersized scatback. I mean, Nick's 215 pounds and has the ability to go 80 [yards]. I don't know if there's a better running back class signed in the country."

What's next for Penn State recruiting?

The Lions aren't finished, particularly in the NCAA Transfer Portal. Franklin said the team needs offensive linemen, a wide receiver and possibly a defensive lineman "based on some things that could happen on our roster." That likely was a reference to tackle PJ Mustipher, who sustained a season-ending injury in October but is eligible to return for another year. Mustipher has not announced his plans.

In addition, Franklin dropped a hint about Penn State's future at linebacker when he said, "We're losing some big-time linebackers." No players have announced yet, but Ellis Brooks, Brandon Smith and Jesse Luketa (who played end and linebacker) are eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft.

"There are a lot of moving parts right now," Franklin said. "And one of the things we want to make sure that we're doing a good job of,  specifically in the transfer portal, is that we do our homework. That we talked to the [player's] previous school, that we talked to the high school coaches, all the same process that we would do with recruiting kids out of high school.

"A lot of these guys that are entering the portal, they already know where they're going before they enter the portal. And that makes it challenging. A lot of times the guys that we want, it's over before it really starts, which is a whole other conversation."

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