Penn State Recruiting: Ranking the Nittany Lions' Top 11 Targets for 2015
The 2015 recruiting season is in full swing as spring practice begins across the country, and Penn State is right in the thick of things, having already landed seven verbal commitments.
The Nittany Lions' class currently ranks among the top 10 classes, according to 247Sports, and several top players from around the country have Penn State among their favorite schools.
Along with head coach James Franklin's pledge to "dominate the state," Penn State needs to add depth to both lines with this class, as well as playmakers in the offensive and defensive backfield.
Here's a look at the top 11 2015 prospects on Penn State's board based on need, interest and talent.
All star ratings refer to the 247Sports Composite ratings.
#11 WR Juwan Johnson, N.J.
6'5", 200 lbs.
4-star Athlete, 119th overall prospect in the country
Penn State is in his top group with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
While wide receiver isn't a great position of need, that's what Penn State wants Johnson to play, and the second-highest rated recruit from New Jersey seems to be leaning toward the Nittany Lions.
Blessed with elite size and raw athleticism, Johnson could make his decision soon, and the 247 Crystal Ball has him committing to Penn State.
#10 DT Tim Settle, Va.
6'3", 305 lbs.
5-star DT, 16th overall prospect in the country
Settle's recruitment seems wide open right now, but pulling him away from the in-state schools may take some work.
Penn State has some catching up to do with Settle and much will hinge on whether or not they can get him on campus this spring.
The top-rated defensive tackle in the region, Settle would fill a position of need and allow the staff to slow down recruiting at his position, allowing them to take just one DT.
Since the beginning of February, Settle has visited Virginia Tech, Clemson, West Virginia and Virginia, where he has been on campus over a half dozen times.
Will he make time for Penn State?
#9 CB Jordan Whitehead, Pa.
6', 180 lbs.
4-star CB, rated as the 17th CB prospect in the country
This is shaping up to be a two-horse race between Penn State and Ohio State.
Whitehead was first on campus last spring before visiting for the Michigan game, then attending PSU's junior day last month. He's very high on the Nittany Lions and will likely be back for a practice in the coming weeks.
He's ranked as the number two corner in the state and a top-five player. This is exactly the kind of commitment Franklin is looking for.
#8 OL Ryan Bates, Pa.
6'5", 280 lbs.
4-star OT, rated as the 18th OT prospect in the country
Verbally committed to Penn State on 2/15/14.
Bates is another top-five in-state recruit who fits a position of need, even if he ends up playing guard at the next level.
Technically the second commitment in the current class, Bates chose the Nittany Lions over offers from Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.
#7 QB Brandon Wimbush, N.J.
6'2", 205 lbs.
4-star QB, rated as the 5th dual-threat QB prospect in the country
Penn State is in the thick of it with Miami and Ohio State.
Penn State may be the leader here, but Wimbush isn't cutting any corners, having visited Rutgers, Ohio State and Boston College in recent months.
Keep in mind that Wimbush camped at Vanderbilt last season and held an offer from James Franklin before he was at Penn State.
#6 CB John Reid, Pa.
5'10", 180 lbs.
4-star CB, 133rd overall prospect in the country
If Penn State isn't the favorite, they're certainly in the mix.
Reid was on campus for the Michigan game last season and told J.C. Shurburtt of 247Sports that it was "unlike anything he's seen."
He also camped at Penn State last summer and attended the junior day event last month. The only other school he has visited since the summer is Maryland.
Grabbing the second-highest rated in-state prospect would be a big deal for Franklin, and elite talent at corner is always good to have.
There doesn't seem to be a timetable for Reid's announcement but expect the Nittany Lions to be in it until the end.
#5 DT Adam McLean, Va.
6'2", 290 lbs.
4-star DT, 107th overall prospect in the country
Penn State improved its stock when McLean attended the junior day.
Many wondered if the Nittany Lions were going to be players for McLean's services after losing Larry Johnson, but it appears that they are.
2014 commits Mark Allen and Marcus Allen are recruiting the fellow Maryland native and they were instrumental in getting him on campus last month.
McLean's recruitment seems wide open as he continues to pull in offers from all over the country, but Franklin will try to get him back on campus this spring—a crucial element in landing Maryland's top recruit.
#4 CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, N.J.
6', 185 lbs.
5-star CB, 28th overall prospect in the country
Too early to tell where Penn State stands but it looks like an uphill battle.
One of the highest-rated targets on PSU's board, Fitzpatrick camped in Happy Valley last June but hasn't returned since. He may make it to a practice in the coming weeks but has recently been on campus at Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Alabama and Miami, making it seem as though he has not narrowed down his choices much.
Fitzpatrick is a high school teammate of Wimbush, and while they aren't necessarily a package deal, it never hurts to land one friend while recruiting the other.
If he stays north, it could come down to Penn State and Ohio State, but New Jersey's top overall prospect is going to have his pick of universities and could be SEC-bound.
#3 RB Andre Robinson, Pa.
5'9", 205 lbs.
4-star RB, 3rd overall prospect in Pa.
Verbally committed to Penn State on 2/27/14.
James Franklin and his staff made Robinson a priority shortly after taking over at Penn State, and their efforts paid dividends earlier than most expected.
Robinson chose the Nittany Lions over offers from Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and Michigan State.
Since his commitment, Robinson has become a vocal recruiter for the Nittany Lions and could be crucial in Franklin's efforts to land other prospects from the commonwealth.
#2 ATH Jerome Baker, Ohio
6'1", 205 lbs.
4-star ATH, 47th overall prospect in the country
Penn State probably trails Ohio State right now.
A commitment from Baker would make a statement because the Nittany Lions are in need of linebackers (Baker's likely position) and because nabbing the number two recruit from Ohio in a recruiting battle against Ohio State could have national implications for James Franklin.
Baker came away from Penn State's junior day impressed and might be back this spring.
The longer his recruitment draws out, the better it is for Penn State.
#1 OT Sterling Jenkins, Pa.
6'8", 305 lbs.
4-star OT, 53rd overall prospect in the country
Penn State appears to be the favorite. Could just be a matter of time.
Jenkins is easily the most important prospect on Penn State's 2015 board.
All the ingredients are there. He's the top in-state recruit, from Pittsburgh, with offers from all the big boys, at a real position of need.
If Franklin wants to "dominate the state," landing Jenkins to block for Andre Robinson would be a good start.