PSU picks up offensive lineman

Several recruits were expected to commit to Penn State in the aftermath of the Nittany Lions’ “Lasch Bash” last Saturday.

While the expected deluge of immediate pledges didn’t materialize, there’s been a steady flow of newly minted Nittany Lions over the last few days.

The latest came on Thursday afternoon, when 6-foot-6, 287-pound Zachary Franks of Baltimore prep power Gilman jumped on board as the 15th member of the Lions’ 2019 class.

Franks is the third rising senior to commit to Penn State in six days. North Carolina wide receiver Emery Simmons joined the class late Saturday after attending the Lions’ annual recruit meet-and-greet with Franks and several dozen other key prospects. On Wednesday, four-star Oregon quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. committed to the Lions, but he didn’t attend the Bash.

With four-star interior line prospects Caedan Wallace and Saleem Wormley already in the fold, the Lion coaching staff has been focused on bringing in two or three tackles to round out their offensive line recruiting this cycle. The need was further accentuated by the news a few weeks ago that star 2018 tackle recruit Nana Asiedu was leaving football after the discovery that he had a heart issue.

Franks fits that bill.

“Franks bends well for a longer prospect and showed light feet in a camp setting. He has a basketball background, which is another thing that the staff liked about him,” Lions247’s Sean Fitz said. “He has work to do on his upper body strength and will likely take a couple years to develop into a college tackle. He comes from a top program in Baltimore that has developed some pretty good linemen over the years as well.”

Franks also plays defensive line at Gilman; one of his former high school teammates, Ellison Jordan, is a redshirt sophomore defensive tackle at Penn State.

Franks has great bloodlines, too. His dad, David Franks, was picked by Seattle out of UConn in the 1989 NFL Draft and stayed in the league until 1992.

Penn State rose to the top of Franks’ list of schools after his showing at one of the Nittany Lions’ camps in late June convinced the coaches to extend a scholarship. His commitment was considered something of a formality after that — Rutgers, Northwestern and Duke comprised his final four schools, although he also had received offers from Pitt, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisville, Baylor, Arizona, California, Maryland and about two dozen other Division I programs.

“I’ve always dreamed of playing big-time college football and Penn State is it. There is a special level of excitement and energy around the program, and it’s something I really love and need to be a part of,” Franks told Ryan Snyder of BlueWhite Illustrated. “(Penn State) felt like home.”

Penn State still has about a half-dozen scholarships to hand out this cycle, with one or possibly two ticketed for offensive linemen. The Lions are considered the heavy favorite for JUCO tackle Anthony Whigan of Lackawanna College, so much so that he has been on commitment watch for a couple of weeks.

Virginia’s Jakai Moore, D.C.’s Walter Rouse and Illinois’ Trevor Keegan all reportedly have Penn State near the top of their list, and the Lions are chasing top-10 national lineman Darnell Wright of West Virginia, as well.

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