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February 5, 2014
Signing Day Rundown: James Franklin
James Franklin joined assistant communications director Tony Mancuso at the Lasch Building on Wednesday afternoon following the completed signings of all 20 National Letters of Intent.Penn State head coach
Owning the Rivals.com No. 22-overall class for 2014, with five early enrollees already on Penn State's campus and another 20 faxing in their letters on Wednesday, Franklin and the Nittany Lions' new staff were able to bask in the success of a whirlwind three weeks since his naming as the school's 16th head coach in program history.
"You work so hard over the last couple of months, and then for us here the last few weeks, to be able to come in and celebrate. That's how we look at it. You work hard, you play hard, so we wanted to come in this morning and celebrate all the hard work of the coaching staff as well as players, and things went pretty smooth," Franklin said. "All the letters came in that we anticipated coming in. They came in pretty early in the day, and now we get a chance to do things like this and interact with the fans and the community."
Surrounded by his assistant coaching staff, all types of Penn State football personnel - from executive assistants to interns - and a host of media members and community program supporters, Franklin set up exactly that type of atmosphere Wednesday morning in a completely revamped upstairs lobby of the Lasch Building.
According to Franklin, the professional set up - designed to replicate the feeling and excitement of the NFL Draft - was at once an opportunity to celebrate the class while simultaneously selling the overall brand and product of Penn State football to prospective recruits.
"We had magnets made that are first class and real professional, put them up on the board, very corporate looking," Franklin said. "We were able to get some supporters of the program as well, all types of media from the community as well as on campus, and just had a whole experience and had fun with it.
"It was interesting, we had... current players that were former recruits saying wow how cool it was, they wish they had something like this when they signed. So, I think this will be something that we can sell to future recruits. Look, you're going to be a part of this for next year."
Beyond the trimmings, Franklin also shed some light on the actual contents of the 25-member recruiting class that will suit up for Penn State next season and the years to come.
Coming out of the second year of NCAA sanctions against the program, Franklin acknowledged some of the deficiencies on the depth chart that continue to exist as the program pushes forward, but had an overall optimistic perception of the quality of prospect that will be joining the team in the very near future.
"We have some holes in our roster that aren't going to get solved overnight. We're going to have to continue to work at that, but I do think we were able to solve some problems as well as improve our athleticism and our size, especially from a length perspective," he said. "I was very proud of the staff because we just kept recruiting. It doesn't always go as perfectly as you plan it to, but this staff just kept recruiting, and when we did face obstacles, we found other solutions. I feel really proud of that and how we handled that. We helped ourselves.
"It's going to be interesting to see how this thing plays out, getting these guys on campus as soon as possible. It's going to be great when these guys all come to the spring game, that we pack the spring game, the Blue and White Game as much as possible, so they can see what their future is all about here at Penn State."
Additionally, in the interview with Mancuso, Franklin again touched on some of the keystones of Penn State's future success recruiting.
While diverging from the future strategy for more of a national approach this season - a result of the quick transition and prior relationships built with many of the prospects that had been established while Franklin and his staff were at Vanderbilt - the Nittany Lions' new head coach reiterated the program's future strategy.
"I think the first thing we have to do is do a great job in our own state, then also regionally. You look at Penn State and Penn State has been able to be very successful by recruiting within six hours from campus, but I think we have a national brand and we don't have to sell ourself short," he said. "Our coaching staff, what we'll do, the way we'll attack national recruiting is we'll do it by position. So the quarterback coach better know where the top ten quarterbacks in the country are, and you never know, one of them might have a cousin or a father or somebody that went to Penn State or grew up a Penn State fan, and there's a connection there.
"I think the national brand really helps and our coaching staff's network of connections I think is going to help us.
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