During James Franklin’s brief tenure as the football coach at Penn State University he has laid out a recruiting plan to “dominate the state.” That notion, he noted during a speaking tour stop in Baltimore on May 7, doesn’t just include Pennsylvania; Franklin also considers Maryland and New Jersey “in-state.”
And three highly-regarded local junior defensive linemen are buying into what Franklin is selling. Blue-chip tackle recruit and Quince Orchard High School’s Adam McLean (four-star rating according to Rivals.com, No. 1-ranked player in Maryland), Gaithersburg defensive end/linebacker Kamonte Carter (four stars, No. 5) and Bullis defensive end Jon Holland (three stars, No. 11) all verbally committed to attending Penn State. They are part of Rivals.com and 247sports.com’s No. 2-ranked 2015 recruiting class.
“It’s almost like a clean sweep of sorts,” said Gaithersburg coach Kreg Kephart, who has attended Penn State’s coaching clinic under the late-Joe Paterno and Franklin. Former Trojan defensive lineman Sean Stanley also attended Penn State. “I’ve never seen it before. You put your money down and hit on all three of them. If they pan out and play to the level they are projected to, Penn State is going to have some darn good football players. I mean, it’s pretty uncommon for multiple guys from one area and same position to go to the same program.”
Henry A. Wise High School safety Marcus Allen and DeMatha Catholic running back Mark Allen signed with the Nittany Lions’ 2014 class.
McLean, Carter and Holland all said they were impressed with the school’s atmosphere, campus, rural scenery, academics, chance to play freshman year and the excitement of the coaching staff.
“It’s going to be awesome,” the 6-foot-2, 290-pound McLean said. “We are going to get to rep MoCo and the state of Maryland up in Happy Valley. We all have really good relationships and the chance to all play together on the same defensive line is really, really cool. ... Hopefully we will cause a lot of havoc.”
The trio have all said the coaching staff has created special bonds with each of the recruits. In fact, the 16 verbally committed players talk to each other daily in group text messages, McLean said.
Holland and McLean developed a friendship when the latter was exploring options to transfer from Avalon after his freshman year (McLean considered Bullis before opting for Quince Orchard). McLean and Carter have known each other from playing against each other and live “pretty much around the corner” in Gaithersburg. Carter and Holland were introduced at combines and during the college recruiting process. All three encouraged each other to attend Penn State.
“We’re not just like any other committed class that we see each other when we see each other,” said McLean, who committed during the Nittany Lions’ spring game on April 12 and plans to major in communications. “We are all really good friends already.”
“It just reminds me of Bullis with one big happy family,” said Holland, listed at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and committed on May 3. He plans to major in international business. “It felt like home. I had visited 12 to 15 other schools prior to Penn State so I knew what I was looking for.
“I feel like we can do something special over the four years we’re there. It’s a great coaching staff, the people surrounding us and support staff.”
Carter, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound versatile athlete, was recruited by Franklin’s staff when it was at Vanderbilt. The mutual interest moved on to Penn State and resulted in Carter committing during Penn State’s junior day in February.
“If you see the blue and white on a football team, you think Penn State,” Carter said. “Their uniform, logo and ‘We Are’ chants is pretty much like a brand. It doesn’t get much better than that.”