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James Franklin Expects To Have ‘More Guys Back Than Anticipated’ For 2020 Season

Update, December 20: James Franklin closed out his media availability on Friday morning by mentioning that “a bunch of guys” will announce their NFL Draft statuses after the Cotton Bowl Classic.

The head coach said that around this time of year he sits down with players and their parents to discuss their prospects for the draft.

“Typically it’s pretty cut and dry. First round, you really should plan on making that decision and moving on. You’ve got the second round, which is pretty much a personal decision but probably leaning more towards leaving,” Franklin said. “And then you’ve got the third round or lower that all the data says that you should go back to school. But then obviously there’s a lot of family dynamics and things like that that go into it.”

Franklin added that he and his staff also have the ability to turn in five players’ names to the NFL for evaluations and information on their draft stock among the league. He mentioned that he sat down with sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth — who is eligible thanks to an extra year of high school football — and said that he and his parents don’t feel quite ready to leave Happy Valley.

Fans can expect for there to be plenty of draft-related announcements some time after the Nittany Lions take on No. 17 Memphis in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

“So we’ll have some more guys announce after the game because that’s when they want to do it,” Franklin said. “There’s a good number that we already know, but some guys are waiting so the focus is on the game and not them.”

Original Story: National Signing Day just keeps getting better for James Franklin and Penn State football.

After securing 27 recruits through the morning, Franklin sat down with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss the incoming talent. Aside from laying out roles and positions for each player early on, the head coach mentioned how current players’ decisions to either stay for another season in Happy Valley or enter the 2020 NFL Draft will play a role.

Franklin was confident, though, that many players who might have the option to enter the draft will decide to stay in Happy Valley for at least the 2020 season.

“We’re still waiting to hear from some NFL guys and what their plans are, some have communicated” Franklin said. “We probably have more guys coming back than maybe we anticipated before the year started, which is great. We have guys that had NFL grades that could’ve left early and they’re staying.”

“I think that’s a tremendous statement because they like what’s going on and they’re happy. We have unfinished business,” Franklin added. “It’s really a win-win for everybody when handled the right way.”

Yetur Gross-Matos is the only Nittany Lion to have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft so far, as he announced that he will forego his final season of NCAA eligibility earlier this month. The talented defensive end has been projected to be a late-first round pick in several mock drafts, including one by ESPN’s Todd McShay this past Tuesday.

Several other players who may have an opportunity to be drafted to the NFL include KJ Hamler, Shaka Toney, Tariq Castro-Fields, Lamont Wade, and Journey Brown, among others. Hamler is a player who is considered by several outlets to be a high draft pick, as he was projected to be taken in the second round in a mock draft by CBS Sports earlier this month.

Outside of Hamler, Castro-Fields is another draft-eligible Nittany Lion that has gotten some NFL attention. The cornerback was projected as a seventh round pick in that same CBS Sports mock draft.

Whether or not any Penn State players declare early for the NFL Draft, the team’s current focus is on No. 17 Memphis and the Cotton Bowl Classic. The game will kick off at 12 p.m. on Saturday, December 28 and be broadcast on ESPN.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]


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