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JaJuan Seider’s Impact Immediately Felt On Penn State’s 2019 Recruiting Class

Penn State football head coach James Franklin didn’t hide his thinking behind hiring running backs coach JaJuan Seider earlier this year.

“You don’t hire JaJuan and not recruit Florida,” Franklin said shortly after Seider officially joined the program. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

The running backs coach played a big role during his first full recruiting cycle as a member of Penn State’s coaching staff. It’s no coincidence that Sunshine State four-star prospects John Dunmore and Noah Cain officially signed their letters of intent with the Nittany Lions on National Signing Day.

Dunmore’s signing in particular is a perfect example of Seider’s great work on the recruiting trail. The wide receiver initially committed to Penn State on July 4, but Miami (FL) made a late push to try and sway the receiver away from Happy Valley.

He spent his high school career in Hollywood, FL, just 45 minutes away from the Hurricanes’ stadium. He visited Miami four times during the regular season, including an official visit last weekend, so the fact that he stuck with his initial decision is a testament to Seider’s impact on the recruiting trail. Seider visited Dunmore twice in the last two weeks, including once with James Franklin and offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne.

Cain’s story is slightly different — he isn’t originally from Florida, but he played his high school football at IMG Academy, where current Nittany Lion KJ Hamler played prior to coming to Penn State. Still, Seider was a key figure in his recruitment to Happy Valley, visiting Cain along with Franklin and Rahne on December 7.

Franklin revealed that Cain secretly committed to the Nittany Lions “a few weeks ago,” but he and his family nearly changed their mind at the eleventh hour.

“I felt pretty confident about [Cain’s commitment] until last night. I got a call at 12:05 a.m. and it’s Noah, mom, and dad,” Franklin said. “They want to have a discussion, and the discussion is coming off like they haven’t made their decision yet.”

According to Franklin, the Cain family had “some questions,” but he and Seider never lost confidence that he’d stick with his initial choice. Cain’s paperwork wasn’t officially filed until after he officially announced his decision on ESPN2 just after 11 a.m. Wednesday.

This marks the second consecutive season that Penn State’s recruiting class included two players from Florida. Jordan Miner and Judge Culpepper each signed on with Penn State last season. However, neither player was considered a blue-chip prospect during their respective recruitments.

It’s abundantly clear what Seider has meant to Penn State’s football program in a tangible sense, and the coach appears to be a great fit in Franklin’s program.

“JaJuan is the type of guy that I want to surround myself with. He’s interested in his family and football, and he lives it,” Franklin said at his post-Signing Day press conference. “I know he’s really happy being at Penn State with the climate and the culture that we have. Obviously, his son is joining the program [as a preferred walk-on], which is a good sign. He’s just done a really good job.”

Other Big Ten programs have seen their decisions to recruit in Florida pay off in recent years. Ohio State landed star defensive lineman Nick Bosa and wide receiver Binjimen Victor from the state in 2016. Michigan picked up linebacker Devin Bush in the same year. Franklin will hope for similar success with his efforts down south.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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