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Penn State battling B1G rival for talented Florida offensive lineman

Can the Nittany Lions beat out Michigan for this Sunshine State prospect?



talented Florida offensive lineman
Oct 1, 2022; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin looks on from the sideline during the second quarter against the Northwestern Wildcats at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Northwestern 17-7. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

State College, PA — Don’t look now, but James Franklin and the Penn State Nittany Lions are getting hot on the recruiting trail. After running off a series of commitments over the holiday weekend, Penn State football’s 2024 class has now vaulted into the top ten nationally. However, one area that has lacked so far in the 2024 cycle for Penn State is the offensive line. Recently, the Nittany Lions were named a finalist for a talented Florida offensive lineman, but will now have to fight with another Big Ten foe to get the commitment across the finish line.

What has Penn State’s recruiting looked like?

James Franklin has been very busy recruiting the class of 2024. Penn State has eight recruits for this upcoming class. This includes the top prospect from Pennsylvania in the 2024 cycle, Quinton Martin. Martin is listed as an athlete that played running back, safety, and linebacker. Martin will most likely play running back at Penn State.

The early focus for Franklin and company has been on the defensive side of the ball. Five of the eight commits in the 2024 class have been on defense. Penn State recently picked up a pair of high school teammates in Florida. Mandarin High School cornerbacks Jon Mitchell (four-star) and Antoine Belgrave-Shorter (three-star) committed to the Nittany Lions only nine days apart. 

Despite the early recruiting success, Penn State only has one commitment from an offensive lineman. Cooper Cousins is the 195th player nationally and the 11th-ranked interior offensive lineman. The last two classes feature four offensive linemen each, not including Hunter Nourzad, who transferred in 2022. So, Penn State must continue to add players to keep the depth at an important position. 

Penn State named a finalist for talented Flordia offensive lineman

Recently, the Nittany Lions were named a finalist for a talented Florida offensive lineman. Jake Guarnera, a 6-3, 290-pound three-star prospect is down to five schools — Florida, Rutgers, NC State, Michigan, and Penn State. 

Guarnera has existing connections to two schools. Being from Ponte Vedra, FL, Guarnera lives less than two hours away from Gainesville. He visited Florida twice in 2022 and will take an official visit on June 23. Jake Guarnera’s father, Jim Guarnera, went played for Rutgers from 1991-1995. This familial tie has likely helped to keep the Scarlet Knights in the running.

Despite these connections, Michigan is favored to land Guarnera. Guarnera has two crystal balls for Michigan and is predicted to go there by On3. Michigan’s back-to-back Big Ten Championships are very appealing for elite-level talent. Further, a great running game like Michigan’s appeals to talented offensive linemen. 

While it looks like Michigan will land Guarnera, Penn State still has a fighter’s chance. Franklin offered Guarnera early, and the three-star prospect visited Happy Valley in June and October of last year. If Penn State’s offensive line continues to take steps forward this fall, perhaps it can be enough to sway Guarnera to don Blue and White instead of Maize and Blue.

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