Head coach James Franklin celebrates birthday with new Penn State football commits

James Franklin
  • Penn State head coach James Franklin had a productive recruiting weekend.
  • Friday, Franklin added a defensive tackle from Germany for the 2019 class.
  • Saturday, Franklin added two 2020 recruits and one 2021 recruit.

James Franklin celebrated his 47th birthday on Saturday with a trio of new commits.

Wideout Dont’e Thornton, a 6-foot-4 and 178-pound prospect from Baltimore, became the first commit of the 2021 class. In the 2020 class, four-star cornerback Joshuah Moten and four-star athlete Curtis Jacobs both committed Saturday to become the third and fourth pledges, respectively, in next year’s group.

The commits all came during Penn State’s “Junior Day” — and naturally made a nice birthday gift for the head coach.

In addition, on Friday, PSU picked up a commitment from a late bloomer from Germany for the 2019 class, Joseph Appiah Darkwa. Here's a look at the four new commitments.

Here’s a closer look at each of the new Nittany Lions.

Athlete Curtis Jacobs (2020): Jacobs is the fourth member of Penn State’s 2020 class, joining four-star linebacker Derek Wingo, three-star offensive lineman Grant Toutant and fellow Saturday commit Joshuah Moten.

Jacobs, who also plays linebacker, is listed as the No. 30 wide receiver and No. 159 overall prospect in the 2020 class on 247 Sports. Rivals ranks the Maryland native as the No. 12 athlete in the country.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder attends the McDonough School, which Penn State recruiting fanatics ought to be familiar with. Rising sophomore defensive tackle PJ Mustipher and 2019 signee D’Von Ellies both went there.

Jacobs had offers from 20 schools, including Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The prospect, who attended last season’s Ohio State game, earned an offer from Penn State after camping in Happy Valley over the summer.

Cornerback Joshuah Moten (2020): Moten, a 2020 four-star cornerback from Maryland, didn’t publicize his commitment until late Saturday night — but he was the first of Saturday’s three commits, pledging to Franklin sometime before 1:40 p.m.

The a 5-foot-11, 165-pounder from National Christian Academy is the No. 19-ranked cornerback in the country. He is the No. 10 prospect from Maryland and the No. 229 recruit overall, per 247 Sports’ Composite rankings.

Moten had offers from 26 programs, including Michigan, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. The cornerback camped at Penn State over the summer, unofficially visited for last season’s Ohio State game and was one of many prospects to show up this weekend.

Moten, who was recruited primarily by cornerbacks coach Terry Smith, had four interceptions as a sophomore and a junior.

Wideout Dont’e Thornton (2021): Thornton committed so early that he does not yet have a recruit rating from 247 Sports or Rivals. But, according to 247, he boasted five other scholarship offers from Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and Virginia.

His commitment will not become official, or binding, until at least December 2020.

“Blessed to announce that I am committed to Penn State University!” he tweeted Saturday night.

In 12 games last season at Mount St. Joseph, as a sophomore, he finished with 40 catches for 860 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Defensive tackle Joseph Appiah Darkwa (2019): Darkwa, a three-star defensive tackle from Germany, committed to the Nittany Lions on Friday afternoon. Darkwa became the 21st member of Penn State’s top-10 2019 recruiting class. He will sign on Wednesday’s National Signing Day.

Darkwa’s name might not ring a bell, even to the die-hard fan. That’s because he just recently burst onto the scene.

Darkwa, who played in the German Football League for the Dusseldorf Panthers’ U-19 team, had offers from nine schools: Penn State, UCLA, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Colorado, UConn, Georgia Tech, Indiana and Virginia. The 6-foot-5, 270-pound pass-rusher visited Rutgers on Nov. 30, earned offers from UCLA, Indiana and Cincinnati in December and caught the eye of Penn State and Colorado in early January, per 247 Sports.

Darkwa might be seen as a long-term project, but his addition does help with Penn State’s depth at defensive tackle.