football Edit

Take Two: What's the secret to Penn State's success in Virginia?

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Devyn Ford
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

ASK FARRELL: Why are so many young QBs transferring?


Virginia is a state filled with talented prospects and Penn State has taken full advantage in recent years as the Nittany Lions continue to bolster their roster to compete for Big Ten championships.

This recruiting cycle is no exception. If anything, Penn State’s aggressive recruiting staff has targeted the state even more by landing five-star running back Devyn Ford, four-star linebacker Brandon Smith (the top two players in the state) and most recently four-star defensive end Hakeem Beamon from Chesterfield (Va.) Lloyd C. Bird.

In recent years, Penn State has done a phenomenal job in the state as well.

Last recruiting cycle, the Nittany Lions signed high four-star running back Ricky Slade and four-star offensive lineman Nana Asiedu, two of the top four recruits in Virginia. In the 2017 class, Penn State landed four-star defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, four-star defensive back Jonathan Sutherland, four-star linebacker Ellis Brooks and others.

Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and other teams in the region have left a lot on the table as Penn State has gone into the state and pilfered many of the top prospects.

Is this a specific recruiting tactic by coach James Franklin and his staff or are the Nittany Lions just hot on the trail and Virginia is just one of many states where they’ve had incredible success?


“When it comes to the coaches, Penn State recruits as a staff. Their top prospects speak with every member of the offensive or defensive staff, depending on what position that prospect plays. So, it’s never about one or two coaches with this staff. They truly recruit as a staff.

“They’re also not recruiting Virginia any harder than before. PSU signed five four-star prospects from Virginia in the past two classes, so they’ve consistently pulled in talent from that state since Franklin took over.

“Penn State simply put in the time with guys like Devyn Ford and Brandon Smith. They hosted both players and their families multiple times over the past year. They also made sure that at least one member of the staff messaged with these guys every day. So, it’s nothing really new. This is what Franklin and his staff always do.”


“It’s surprising. If you ask James Franklin, it is every coach. He does not like to single out particular coaches that have led the way. It is a group effort at Penn State.

“Virginia is a state that is ripe for the picking right now. UVa is not a very good, Virginia Tech under Justin Fuente is recruiting well but not keeping some of the big-name kids in the state. Penn State used to do this in Maryland as well when (former assistant coach) Larry Johnson was there.

“When you’re Penn State and you’re a power program and you see a state like Virginia that’s wide open, you might as well just charge in there and grab whoever you can.”