Another year, another stellar recruiting class for James Franklin. Of course, no signing day is complete without some eleventh-hour fanfare — four-star cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields can be thanked for that. But overall, the Nittany Lions are looking up after a season that saw them take home a Big Ten Championship and nearly capture the Rose Bowl.
Franklin began his presser somewhat earnestly, admitting he and his staff would be “getting after it a little bit” at his residence later on this evening. Who could blame them after such an impressive haul that included blue-chip players like quarterback Sean Clifford and offensive guard C.J. Thorpe — two players who’ve remained committed to the Nittany Lions for quite some time.
But Franklin’s class included a number of late additions after his persistent efforts paid off. One of those players was linebacker Ellis Brooks, who at 6-foot-1, 230 lbs is every bit the kind of player defensive coordinator Brent Pry has been yearning to add into his program. Franklin touched on how exactly he persuaded the former Duke commit to flip his allegiance to the Nittany Lions. “It probably wasn’t as quick as people think,” Franklin said. “We’ve been in steady contact for a long time. He was very active in hitting me up on Twitter direct message, and I did the same.” Franklin added that it’s unlike him to continuously offer players saying it’s an unwise practice to offer everybody if you can’t take their commitment.
Franklin also spoke honestly about the rigors of the recruiting process; programs like Alabama might make it look easy, but recruiting is a grind. “Our staff was a lot like our season — we persevered and kept battling,” Franklin said. “I know fans think the recruiting process should go smooth and perfect, but I’ve been doing this 23 years and it never does. You keep recruiting, staying positive, and selling some of the great things about Penn State.” He added that no recruit is really ever a lock — he constantly rode the wave of ups and downs before closing out the class today.
The 2017 class — which has the highest average ranking since Joe Paterno’s Class of 2010 that included players like Mike Hull and Daquan Jones — has the Nittany Lions in a great position. The class is both close-knit and talented — and Franklin recognized both characteristics.
An important note made by the head coach was his program’s addition of some solid talent along the defensive and offensive lines. He noted that for the first time in quite some time Penn State’s offensive line will be a strength. “Watching Saquon Barkley run behind that offensive line next year is gonna be fun,” Franklin said. “Maybe that’s why we sold 400 season tickets today.”
The late addition of defensive tackle Corey Bolds certainly has coach Sean Spencer excited for what the future holds. The class is deep, and provides a foundation the Nittany Lions should be able to rapidly build off of.
We hope Franklin and Co. enjoy those adult beverages of their choice — they’ve certainly earned them after yet another fantastic crop of young Nittany Lions.