Franklin Rings In 2015 Recruiting Class At Signature Event

After a busy schedule of National Signing Day festivities, James Franklin introduced his 2015 recruiting class to a half-full, yet enthusiastic Rec Hall crowd Wednesday evening.

The event served as the culmination of Franklin and Co.’s tireless effort to recruit one of the nation’s top 15 recruiting classes, which ranks second in the Big Ten.

Athletic director Sandy Barbour began the event, saying she and her staff are “so proud” of Franklin’s success. Barbour was met with several boos from the crowd as she assumed the stage, and during a pause in her three-minute rally a heckler belted out “409” — a clear reference to her remarks about the referential number several weeks ago.

“Tonight, we get to celebrate the next generation of Penn State football,” Barbour said. “Our future is so, so bright.”

It certainly appears to be so. Penn State’s recruiting class consists of 12 offensive and 13 defensive players, three of which have enrolled early and attended the Signature Event. The 11 signees from Pennsylvania are the most since 2004, a fact that seemed to please Franklin in light of recent recruiting battles with in-state foe Pitt.

“Pittsburgh is Penn State country,” Franklin said to some of the loudest cheers of the event. “We represent the whole state. We’re the state institution.”

Even better, Penn State plucked seven of the 10 highest-rated players in the state.

“To think about the fact that we were able to go out and get 11 [Pennsylvania players], we’re really, really proud of that,” Franklin continued.

Franklin, who entered to a series of roaring applause, began by introducing his coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop earned the loudest applause after a season that saw him lead a top-five defense. In an informal question-and-answer format, Franklin then “interviewed” his three early enrollees: tackle Paris Palmer, quarterback Tommy Stevens, and tackle Sterling Jenkins. Palmer, who transferred to Penn State this semester, said he dreamt of the academic environment that University Park provided.

“I dreamt of a school that challenged me academically, as well as on the field,” he said.

Stevens, an Indianapolis native, brought his family for the occasion, who was welcomed with a hefty ovation from the crowd. “There’s not a place like this place,” he said.

Franklin then narrated individual highlight reels of all 25 of his signees. He included insights into each commit’s personality and play style, where they’ll fit into the Penn State system, and showed visible excitement when they made big plays on the screen.

During Saquon Barkley’s clips, Franklin said the running back “has a habit of hurdling people, which is technically illegal in high school.” Franklin vowed to allow the nifty move at the next level.

He added that cornerback John Reid had interest in joining the honors college, and stayed in with Shoop to watch film during his official visit while other players went out with their player hosts.

Franklin also noted that his team had completed a record 1,900 community service hours, and said he hoped his team’s legacies are remembered for accomplishments both on the field and away from football.

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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