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James Franklin Accidentally FaceTimes Lifelong Penn State Fan

One lucky Penn State fan got a call that thousands and thousands of high school football players would dream of getting on National Signing Day. Head coach James Franklin was reaching out to the 25 newest Nittany Lions, the 2015 recruiting class, when he tried to dial up defensive end Shareef Miller on FaceTime.

A few hours away in Philadelphia, local case worker for at-risk youth Aleem Medley was on his way to work when a video call popped up on his iPhone that said “Penn State Athletics,” according to ESPN. When he answered the call, a familiar face filled Medley’s screen.

“It was Coach Franklin,” Medley said to ESPN. “They had all the balloons in the background, and I’m like, ‘Coach?'”

Medley is a lifelong Penn State fan who has never made it to Beaver Stadium for a game. The video chat he took part in Wednesday might have topped any longtime fan’s game day experiences.

“I guess we were off a digit,” Franklin said. “This guy comes on the screen and we’re trying to call Shareef Miller and I’m thinking, ‘This must be Shareef’s older brother or someone I haven’t met yet,’ and the guy’s got a huge smile on his face. He goes, ‘Coach Franklin!’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah! What’s going on? Congratulations!'”

As happy as Medley may have been to see his favorite team’s coach on his iPhone, he wasn’t exactly sure what he was being congratulated on.

“He’s looking at me like I’m crazy,” Franklin said. “He goes, ‘Coach, I think you’ve got the wrong number, but this is awesome! It’s National Signing Day! Thanks for calling!'”

In typical Franklin fashion, he rebounded from the mistake quickly, offering up a joke as he asked Medley if he has any eligibility remaining as a football player. Franklin likely didn’t know it, but the man on the other end of the phone played quarterback in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference for both Shippensburg University and Millersville University. That might sound familiar, because Franklin played the same position for PSAC team East Stroudsburg. But for Medley, his allegiance has always lied with Penn State, which he grew of rooting for thanks to his mother’s fandom.

“I teach my kids now, ‘We are Penn State.’ That’s all we say. I wish I could get to a game one day, but I love watching on TV and I like Coach Franklin as well,” Medley said. “That was the best news I had in a while. I’m on cloud nine right now.”

For the Penn State football program, today is more about celebrating a great class of 25 recruits than working hard to get players signed. The team entered Wednesday with a full class, so Franklin seemed to love the light-hearted moment in the middle of a festive day.

“That was classic,” Franklin said. “That’s a story that will go down for the ages. It was so funny.”

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.


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