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Parsons headlines Penn State class

The early signing period for college football is here and will last through Dec. 22. It’s a process that has long been considered by the NCAA and now it seems that the December signing period has stolen much of the thunder from the traditional period, which starts on the first Wednesday in February and goes until April 1.

The first annual early signing date certainly panned out well for Penn State and head coach James Franklin. The biggest signing of the day came from widely heralded five-star recruit Micah Parsons from Harrisburg. Parsons was once already a Penn State commit and then de-committed and opened his recruitment back in April, but Franklin did not give up his pursuit and his perseverance paid off.

Parsons (6-3, 245 pounds, DE) is ranked the highest in the 247Sports Composite rankings at No. 4 (No. 7 ESPN, No. 5 Rivals) and was also selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was a second team selection on defense by USA Today. He had a monster senior season for the Cougars – with 55 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and 17.5 tackles for a loss. He was also effective on the offensive side of the ball, rushing for 1,239 yards and had a total of 29 offensive touchdowns.

Parsons signing is further proof that Franklin has certainly embraced his “dominate the state” recruiting plan. Parsons is the third No. 1 Pennsylvania recruit that Franklin has signed in the past three seasons (Lamont Wade 2016, Miles Sanders 2015) and Parsons is also the highest ranked recruit that Penn State has signed since the year 2000 when they signed wide receiver and elite punt and kick returner Derrick Williams.

Parsons roller coaster ride recruitment, statistics, and his ability on the football field all blend together to create a pretty intriguing story. But it’s his versatility on the gridiron that may be his story at Penn State. Parsons is expected to be a mainstay on defense and is ranked as a defensive end, but there are plenty of other positions he is already being considered to play at for the Nittany Lions.

“Micah’s a guy that’s going to be 245 pounds, running a 4.5. There is no doubt in my mind he could play defensive end. We have a challenge that we need to solve some linebacker depth issues that we have,” said Franklin. “We think with him graduating early, he’s got a chance to kind of learn it and have a chance to truly compete for the job come the fall.”

So it’s a combination of both. It’s a talent, but it’s also a need.”

Penn State got another surprise on the first day of the new signing period when nearby Nazareth High School star Jahan Dotson (WR, 4-star, ESPN 300) flipped from UCLA to the Nittany Lions. Dotson had an impressive senior season for the Blue Eagles, catching 62 balls for 889 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was also a PIAA state track champion in both the 4x100 meter relay and long jump in 2016.

“We were able to keep an in-state, local player (Jahan Dotson) home, which I think is a win-win for everybody,” said Franklin. “Him having an opportunity to get a world-class education and play big-time football and do it in front of everybody.”

Below you will find the entire list of Penn State signees and their rankings, which are based off the ESPN.com recruiting service. Other notable signing were Justin Shorter, who is the No. 1 ranked wide receiver in the country and Ricky Slade, who is the No. 2 running back.

Penn State 2017-18 signees

Micah Parsons (6-3, 245 Harrisburg, PA - five-star, No. 7 overall, No. 4 DE, ESPN 300)

Justin Shorter (6-4, 220 Monmouth Junction, NJ – five-star, No. 8 overall, No. 1 WR, ESPN 300)

Ricky Slade (5-9, 185 Woodbridge, VA – 4-star, No. 18 overall, No. 2 RB, ESPN 300)

Nana Asiedu (6-5, 275 Stafford, VA – 4-star, No. 129 overall, No. 13 OT, ESPN 300)

Jahan Dotson (5-11, 165 Nazareth, PA – 4-star, No. 134 overall, No. 20 WR, ESPN 300)

P.J. Mustipher (6-4, 300 Owings Mills, MD – 4-star, No. 163 overall, No. 12 DT, ESPN 300)

Frederick Scruggs (6-3, 270 Erie, PA – 4-star, No. 189 overall, No. 10 OG, ESPN 300)

Jesse Luketa (6-3, 242 Ottawa, Ontario – 4-star, No. 193 overall, No. 6 OLB, ESPN 300)

Zack Kuntz (6-7 235 Camp Hill, PA – 4-star, No. 276 overall, No. 6 TE, ESPN 300)

Patrick Freiermuth (6-5, 250 Merrimac, MA – 4-star, No. 282 overall, No. 7 TE, ESPN 300)

Daniel George (6-2, 210 Fort Washington, MD – 4-star, No. 292 overall, No. 48 WR, ESPN 300)

Trent Gordon (6-0, 180 Spring, TX – 4-star, No. 35 CB)

Aeneas Hawkins (6-2, 280 Cincinnati, OH – 4-star, No. 27 DT)

Jordan Miner (6-0, 180 Wesley Chapel, FL – 4-star, No. 43 CB)

Nick Tarburton (6-3, 250 Green Lane, PA – 4-star, 242, No. 13 ILB)

Will Levis (6-3, 220 Madison, CT – 3-star, No. 34 QB)

Judge Culpepper (6-4, 275, Tampa, FL – 3-star)

Bryce Effner (6-5, 280 Aurora, IL – 3-star, No. 52 OT)

Isaiah Humphries (5-11, 190 Rowlett, TX – 3-star, No. 31 S)

Jake Pinegar (6-1, 195 Ankeny, IA – 3-star, No. 8 K)

Charlie Katshir (6-3, 215 Camp Hill, PA – 3-star, No. 58 OLB)

*All rankings based on ESPN.com recruiting rankings