Free from NCAA sanctions, Penn State signs 1st full recruiting class, including 2 top runners

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STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania — No longer burdened by NCAA sanctions, Penn State signed its first full recruiting class since 2011.

The Nittany Lions' 25-player class included two of the top-rated running backs from Pennsylvania in Saquon Barkley from Coplay and Andre Robinson from Mechanicsburg.

Penn State also added a pair of 6-foot-8 offensive tackles to help bolster a position that was thin last year.

Sterling Jenkins, a four-star recruit from Pittsburgh, has already enrolled. Junior college transfer Paris Palmer is also enrolled and expected to compete for a starting job.

Penn State was stripped of 40 scholarships over a four-year period starting in 2012 by the NCAA as part of the sanctions for the Jerry Sandusky child sexual molestation scandal. The NCAA rolled back the scholarship sanctions in 2013, giving coach James Franklin a full complement to work with this season.

Last year Penn State signed 25 players, but five of those scholarships counted toward the 2013 class.

Penn State had its four-year bowl ban cut back to two last year and the Nittany Lions won the Pinstripe Bowl in overtime to finish 7-6 in Franklin's first season.

The Nittany Lions will return last season's leading-rusher Akeel Lynch, but lose running backs Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak. That should provide an opportunity for both Barkley and Robinson to contribute as freshmen.

"Those guys aren't going to need to soak in the weight room for a year," Franklin said.

Four-star defensive backs Garrett Taylor from Richmond, Virginia, and John Reid from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, are also expected to get a long look to fill holes in the secondary. Palmer is expected to compete for a starting spot on the offensive line.

The only quarterback in the class, Tommy Steven of Indianapolis, is also already enrolled.

Penn State was informed late in the process that the early enrollees for this class can count toward last year, giving them three open scholarships that they can still use or use toward early enrollees for next year's class.

Eleven members of the class were from Pennsylvania, the most since 2004 for Penn State, said Franklin, who is from the eastern part of the state.

"That's something we take great pride in." Franklin said.

The class was heavy on defensive linemen. The Nittany Lions signed five players list as defensive linemen, including Ryan Buchholz from Malvern and Kamonte Carter from Silver Springs, Maryland.

Penn State got defensive lineman Kevin Givens from Altoona to make a late switch after he had verbally committed to Pittsburgh, and they lured defensive tackle Robert Windsor from Fond du lac, Wisconsin, to Happy Halley.


Top 25 Class: Yes.

Best in class: Saquon Barkley, RB, Coplay, Pennsylvania.

Best of the rest: Sterling Jenkins, OT, Pittsburgh; Manny Bowen, LB, Barnegat, New Jersey, Garrett Taylor, CB, Richmond, Virginia.

Late addition: Kevin Givens, DL, Altoona, Pennsylvania (was leaning toward Pittsburgh).

One that got away: Brandon Wimbush, QB, Jersey City, New Jersey (signed with Notre Dame).

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