Franklin Dishes On ‘Fun, Crazy’ 2016 Recruiting Cycle
James Franklin took the podium at Beaver Stadium Wednesday afternoon to discuss the culmination of months of hard work leading up to National Signing Day for the Class of 2016. Franklin highlighted some of the triumphs that his staff is proud of and a few of the challenges that come with the territory of today’s recruiting landscape.
“Obviously, today is a day where the coaching staff and recruits and parents across the country take a deep breath for about 15 minutes, because we’ve already started on the next class,” Franklin said. Such is the nature of recruiting in the age of social media, but while the coaches may already be looking ahead to the next cycle, the 2016 bunch is undoubtedly going to make a splash starting this spring and summer.
Four early enrollees are already on campus in quarterback Jake Zembiec, center Connor McGovern, tight end Danny Dalton, and offensive tackle Alex Gellerstedt, but the Nittany Lions rounded out the rest of #DaPride16 Wednesday morning, signing 16 more incoming freshmen. After a flurry of activity, Penn State finished with the 19th-best recruiting class in the nation, according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings.
Franklin took a few questions from the media about the difficulties of dealing with negative recruiting by other programs, but remained excited about the direction Penn State is headed and the new crop of players who will help take it there.
“You look at the majority of the guys that have been committed to us for a long time; it really wasn’t recruiting anymore, it was going into their homes and having fun and celebrating our future and their future. To me, that’s what it’s all about,” Franklin said. “It’s been fun, it’s been crazy. [We’re] looking forward to getting these guys on campus so we can continue to build on the foundation that their parents have laid, and help these guys mature and leave here as educated men and prepared for life.
“We’ve got 16 team captains…six state championships, four Under Armour All-Americans, [four] Semper Fidelis All-Americans, two Gatorade Players of the Year, and then one Army All-American,” Franklin said. “We’ve signed 21 four- or five-star recruits in the last two years, and [there were] 11 in the last three classes before we arrived. Those things are not the end-all, be-all…but the rankings do have some significance, there’s no doubt about that.”
Although Franklin discussed the prevalence of negative recruiting among coaches at various schools across the nation, he stressed the importance of maintaining your message from day one. “At Penn State, we spend almost all of our time talking about all the wonderful things that we have…the academic reputation, the history, the traditions, the tremendous support that we get, and the direction we’re going. You’ve heard this before — this is 40-year decision, not a four-year decision — and I think when you look at it that way, Penn State is a tremendous option.”
The Nittany Lions may have slid four spots from their 15th-ranked effort in 2015, but that doesn’t mean this group is any less talented. Plus, they took five fewer signees (20) this time around, which allows for more flexibility in 2017. With Miles Sanders, the top running back in the country, Michal Menet, one of the most versatile and athletic offensive linemen this cycle, and elite pass rusher Shane Simmons as the headliners, there’s plenty to be excited about regarding Penn State’s incoming freshman class.