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What's Up With The Penn State Decommits?

Three prospects have decommitted from Penn State's 2023 recruiting class since July. Is a trend line forming?
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Tomarrion Parker, a 4-star defensive lineman from Alabama, decommitted from Penn State on Aug. 9, marking a major shakeup to the 2023 recruiting class. Parker also is the third player in the last month to decommit from Penn State, which brings the term "trend" into question.

Parker is a high-end prospect who initially chose Penn State from an offer sheet that included Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and many others. His commitment represented a big recruiting move for Penn State: The program pulled a high-end player from SEC country, continuing its effort to developer a broader national recruiting footprint.

But recruiting remains a fluid game. Five players have decommitted from Penn State's 2023 recruiting class, including four since June and three since July 7. Quarterback Marcus Stokes, a Ponte Vedra native, flipped to Florida, and North Penn (Pa.) High receiver Yazeed Haynes committed to Georgia.

Penn State also responded by filling two of those slots. Carmelo Taylor, a speedy receiver from Virginia who won two state sprint titles, committed to the Lions in early August.

Then on Aug. 12, quarterback Jaxon Smolik announced his decision to join the class. Smolik, from Iowa's Dowling Catholic, initially committed to Tulane but picked up recruiting attention after a strong performance at the Elite 11 Finals in June.

Decommitments happen constantly, and coaching staffs work tirelessly to mitigate their impacts. Penn State coach James Franklin has a board of potential replacements for players like Parker, though few will bring his skills to such a position of need.

Still, Franklin makes clear that he wants players to commit when they're ready and mean it.

"I’d rather you not commit than commit and change your mind down the road," Franklin said. "What if School X offers you, will that change your mind? What if the Philadelphia Eagles try to draft you right out of high school? Literally, I try to talk them out of [committing], because I think there's still value in your word, in your reputation and in what the word 'commitment' means."

Of course, players changed their minds (as do coaches), making Franklin's perspective perhaps a bit antiquated in the new world of recruiting. Remember when Franklin said that it's time for Penn State to "push the pace" on Name, Image and Likeness opportunities? Recruiting is a huge reason for that.

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"We've got to do everything we possibly can to put Penn State in the best position this season, and then also protecting our own roster for the future, and then also putting ourselves in a position to be able to tell a story and show the incoming guys what we’re doing and how we’re taking care of our program and our current roster," Franklin said.

Penn State's 2023 recruiting class ranks 10th nationally, according to 247Sports, with 17 commits. The program has four months until the early signing period begins to raise that profile. Decommits hurt, no doubt, but ultimately they become opportunities for other players.

Penn State, though, can't afford many more of them.

This story was updated Aug. 13.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.