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March 23, 2014

Franklin embraces NFF scholar-athletes

Taking questions at a Sunday afternoon press conference before addressing the National Football Foundation's Central Pa. annual awards banquet at the Penn Stater, Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin stressed the importance of embracing the scholarly pursuits of student-athletes.

Check out our video clip from the brief press conference, below:

Penn State head coach James Franklin was on his home turf Sunday afternoon.

Making the rounds at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center, the Nittany Lions' new head man was the feature speaker for the National Football Foundation's Central Pennsylvania chapter annual awards banquet.

With high school football players from counties all across the state and their coaches, along with area college and university players and coaches, Franklin's familiar mantra to 'Dominate the State' rang particularly true on an afternoon in which he reconnected with established friends and acquaintances while making new connections with those whom he'll get to know in the coming months and years.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. To me, this is what it's all about. True student athletes, putting the focus on the scholar-athlete," he said. "I think we have a little bit of an issue sometimes with student-athletes and sometimes coaches that put too much of the emphasis on the athletic part and not the scholarly part, so being able to come here today and really be able to recognize these young men for their pursuits on and off the field is unbelievable.

"Another opportunity for us to get out in the community and interact, shake some hands, get a chance to meet some people and honor these young men that are here today both in high school and college. It's what it's all about for us. I also know we've gotta win some football games, but we wanna make sure that we're graduating players and preparing young men to be successful for years and years to come."

A product of one of Pennsylvania's many small football schools, East Stroudsburg University (though he took exception to the characterization of his alma mater as a 'small school'), for maybe the first time in his short tenure at Penn State, Franklin was afforded an opportunity to talk about the game beyond just his new relationship with the Nittany Lions.

Specifically, emphasizing the message he has attempted to spread each year during summer camps, Franklin offered his insights to what the game itself is capable of bringing its participants.

Said Franklin, "What I've found and what I try to emphasize every year when we have camps and things like that is, go play the game. Whether that's at Penn State if you're fortunate enough to go to a place like Penn State, that's great, or whether it's Moravian. Wherever it is. Widener. Go play the game, because you're going to learn so much by getting that college education while playing the great game of football, by understanding teamwork, by understanding how to sacrifice, by understanding how to put your brother and your teammate ahead of yourself for a greater cause.

"These are things that are going to carry over for the rest of your life, and that's what's going to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the stuff that you learn in the classroom is very, very important, but it's about working with people, it's about being able to communicate, it's about understanding how to sacrifice for someone else and serving others. We tell our players all the time that you can get everything you want in life by serving others. That's our job as coaches. We're here to serve these players so that they have an opportunity to reach all of their dreams. That's what this organization is about, that's what we want our players to understand. So to me, that's what makes us special. I think the people that embrace that understand that. They understand."

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