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A Breakdown of WPIAL Talent Penn State has Landed in James Franklin Era

Penn State, Miles Sanders
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 04: Philadelphia Eagles Running Back Miles Sanders (26) runs downfield during the NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on October 4, 2020 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire)

Penn State got its most highly-touted Class of 2024 commit on Good Friday when four-star ATH Quinton Martin announced his commitment.

Martin comes from Belle Vernon, which is in Western Pennsylvania’s WPIAL. Here’s a breakdown of everybody James Franklin has signed from Western PA in his time as Penn State’s head coach.



Jenkins came to Penn State as a four-star recruit. The 6-foot-8, 334-pounder never found a regular role on Penn State’s offensive line and transferred to Duquense before the 2019 season. 


Bowers was a three-star recruit coming out of high school and played at Penn State for five seasons. He was a reserve tight end for most of his time at Penn State, eventually starting two games as a senior in 2019. 

Despite never becoming a regular starter on offense in Happy Valley, Bowers has had a decent NFL career, all things considered. He’s been in the league for three seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals. 



Petrishen played at Penn State from 2015-18 in a reserve role. What makes him interesting is where he ended up. Before the 2019 season, Petrishen transferred to rival Pitt, where he played three seasons, eventually landing a starting role on Pitt’s 2021 ACC Championship team.



The first five-star signee of the Franklin era became one of the better players Penn State’s had in the past decade. It took him three seasons to become the teams RB1, thanks to the presence of a man named Saquon. But once Sanders got his shot, he knocked it out of the park. In 2018, he rushed for 1,274 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. From there, Sanders went to the Eagles in the second round of the 2019 Draft, playing four seasons in Philly. This past season, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and helped the Eagles to the Super Bowl, where they fell to the Chiefs. Sanders got paid this spring, earning a four-year, $25.4 million contract with the Panthers.



Wade, a four-star, was the highest-rated signee of Penn State’s 2017 Class, ahead of players such as Sean Clifford, KJ Hamler and Yetur Gross-Matos.

Wade had a respectable career at Penn State, becoming a two-year starter and all-Big Ten performer by the end of his college career. In 2021, Wade tried to catch on with his hometown Steelers as an un-drafted free agent, but didn’t make the team. Last spring, he signed with the Postdam Royals of the German league.


Right behind Wade on Penn State’s recruiting rankings for the ‘17 Class was another WPIAL guy.

The 6-foot-3, 313-pounder started his share of games at Penn State but never became a fixture in the offensive line. Today, Thorpe is a recruitment coordinator for Be the Match as well as a producer/host for Steelers Pro Shop Live.



In a few weeks, Porter will likely to be the first Penn State cornerback ever taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. So, it’s fair to say his college career turned out well.


Hardy is still on Penn State’s roster. The 2018 WPIAL and state champion has had a hard time becoming a fixture on Penn State’s defense thanks largely to a loaded secondary that’s featured Porter among others. But he’s been a useful part of Penn State’s team thanks to his versatility.

Hardy can play safety, nickel back and has returned kicks for Penn State, and that versatility should continue to be an asset for Penn State in 2023.


Brisker transfer to Penn State after two seasons at Lackawanna Community College. He got progressively better over his three seasons at Penn State and was an All-American by the time he was done. He went to the Bears in the second round of last year’s draft, and had a promising rookie season, becoming a regular starter right away, ending the year with four sacks, which was tied for the second most amongst safeties.



Fisher comes from probably the most successful WPIAL program historically. Over his four seasons at Aliquippa, Fisher was part of four WPIAL title games and won a distract and state championship in 2018, just like Hardy. Fisher cut his teeth for his first two seasons at Penn State, and could have had a bigger role in 2022. But an injury suffered during spring camp cost him most of his season.

Fisher was supposed to miss all of 2022, but came back Nov. 12 against Maryland, making a tackle in that game. A healthy Fisher could provide solid depth to Penn State in 2023.



Dinkins also comes from one of western PA’s football giants. He signed with Penn State as a three-star in the 2020. In his two seasons, Dinkins has been a reserve, having a hard time breaking into the lineup largely due to a crowded tight end room that’s featured Brenton Strange, Theo Johnson and Tyler Warren. But with Strange having declared for the NFL Draft, people will have to step up, and there’s no reason to think Dinkins can’t take a big step in 2023.



Like Brisker, Nelson was a WPIAL guy who transferred to Penn State from Lackawanna.

Nelson was a reserve in 2022 but showed promise, and should be a part of possibly Franklin’s best offensive line room in 2023.



Robinson was the lone WPIAL player who signed to Penn State’s 2023 Class. His high school career didn’t go the way he wanted. Robinson suffered a serious knee injury in the fall of his junior season and never played another down for Brashear. But when Robinson was healthy, he was awesome.

He has the versitility to play the Will, Sam. And Mike linebacker positions. He can also line up as an edge rusher, safety or slot corner. The prospect of him and fellow four-star linebacker Tony Rojas (Fairfax, Virginia) teaming up together should excite any Penn State fan.


Payne, a three-star corner, was one of the first players committed to Penn State’s 2023 Class and is a three-star signee. He could be the first player to star at Penn State coming from Char Valley, a school not known for its football tradition.


Cephas is transferring to Penn State after four seasons at Kent State.

Cephas (6-foot-1, 186 pounds) had his best year in 2021 when he caught 82 passes for 1,240 yards and nine touchdowns. Last season, he caught 48 catches for 744 yards for the Golden Flashes.

He went to Penn High Hills School and was in the same recruiting class as Hardy, also going to school with current Penn State running back Tank Smith.

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