James Franklin, when he took the Penn State job, said he wanted to dominate recruiting in the state of Pennsylvania.

Franklin sold himself short.

He's not dominating just the state.

He's dominating the nation.

Yes, it's obscenely early in the recruiting process. National Letter of Intent Day is nearly 10 months away. Every commitment right now is merely verbal, and every one of Penn State's 12 recruits for 2015 could change his mind between now and next February.

But Nittany Nation can hardly contain its glee at how Franklin is piling up blue-chip high school players.

Of the dozen players to commit to PSU, eight are coveted four-star recruits on a five-star scale. Four others are rated three-star recruits.

Three of the major recruiting services — Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com — have PSU's 2015 recruiting class at No. 1 in the nation.

You read that right — No. 1 in the nation.

The Nittany Lions moved to the top of the rankings when four-star recruit Adam McLean, a defensive end from Potomac, Md., committed to the Lions over the weekend.

That's pretty astounding, especially when you consider that the PSU football program is still operating under NCAA sanctions in the wake of the Sandusky scandal, including scholarship limitations and a bowl ban.

But even before the sanctions, Penn State recruiting had fallen off sharply during the waning years of the Joe Paterno era, when the aging coach no longer hit the road to chat up standout players. According to Rivals.com, PSU has not had a top-10 recruiting class since 2006, and since 2002, only two PSU recruiting classes were ranked in the top 20 — the 2006 class at No. 6 and the 2010 class at No. 12.

If you're not a big believer in the recruiting sites and the star system, all you need to know is that many of the players that Franklin is luring to Happy Valley were being offered scholarships by some of the top programs in the nation — schools such as Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan.

That, more than the stars, speaks volumes about the quality of the recruits.

One of the more surprising facts about the class so far is that fewer than half the players — five to be exact — are from Pennsylvania.

Franklin, despite his pledge to dominate the state, is ranging far and wide to find players.

That's a good thing. There's no denying that the quality and quantity of Pennsylvania football recruits has diminished over the decades. Franklin, while he wants to dominate the state, can't rely solely on players from the Keystone State.

Instead, he's concentrating on PSU's traditional recruiting base in the Mid-Atlantic Region. The 2015 recruiting class has two Maryland recruits, two New Jersey recruits, a Virginia recruit, a Connecticut recruit and an Indiana recruit.

Franklin has proven he's already a great salesman. Now he has to prove he's a great coach.

If the Nittany Lions struggle this fall, some of his verbal commitments may waver on their decisions and opt to play elsewhere.

And it's very possible PSU could struggle this fall, especially given the dire situation on the offensive line, the lack of experience at wide receiver and the lack of returning playmakers on defense.

But if Franklin can somehow patch together an adequate offensive line, find a breakout young wideout and develop a solid defense, another 7-5 or 8-4 season is very possible.

That should be enough to keep most, if not all, of the blue-chip commitments in line. It should also help him add a few more top recruits to round out the 2015 class.

Franklin may also get a boost from the NCAA, if that body decides to end PSU's bowl ban early. There's speculation that may happen.

Still, it's unrealistic to expect that PSU's 2015 class will still be No. 1 when the final rankings come out next February. There are too many factors working against the Nittany Lions for that to happen.

But, 10 months from now, if the Lions are still considered to have a top-10 class, it should be considered a major triumph for Franklin and the program.

And it would be a promising sign of things to come in Happy Valley.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.