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May 7, 2014

Franklin not buying babysitting concerns

Penn State head coach James Franklin and the third annual Coaches Caravan rolled along again Wednesday, taking in stops in Baltimore and Washington D.C. for a lunch and cocktail reception/dinner, respectively.

Appearing individually - rather than alongside coaches like Bob Warming, Erica Walsh and Coquese Washington on Tuesday - Franklin sat for lengthy press conferences with a small contingent of the Penn State football beat.

With only a small handful of reporters on hand for the two separate interview opportunities, Franklin was asked about everything from his variety of coaching stops, the things he's learned along the way, his relationships built through the years, image consciousness, and maybe most pertinently to the events of Tuesday night, recruiting.

Speaking for the first time about the potential pitfalls of landing a robust recruiting class so early in the season's cycle, Franklin offered some valuable insight to how he approaches verbal commitments and where he'd like to take the program moving forward.

Simply, the idea of needing to 'babysit' recruits following their verbal commitments to the program isn't an issue that Franklin expects to be time-consuming or problematic.

"What we're doing is maybe a little bit different for Penn State, but it's really not different nationally. If you look at the trends across this country, this is how it's done," he said. "You look at the top 15 programs in the country from a recruiting perspective, this is how it goes.

"What I would tell you is, the way we do it, I feel very confident that they're going to stick because I actually - when they try to commit - I actually talk them out of it. If guys want to go through the process, I want them to go through the process. If guys want to go on visits and keep looking around, then don't commit."

Making the effort to dissuade prospects from making verbal commitments at any point before their completely ready, Franklin once again spoke about the 'engaged' relationship he expects between the coaching staff and its verbals in the time between the announcement and signing day.

Said Franklin, "To me there's only two things you have in your life and that's your word and your reputation. Once you tell somebody you're coming, they're committed to us, we're committed to them and you go from there. So I actually try to talk guys out of it."

Continuing, Franklin recounted the typical conversation between head coach and potential commitment, saying that when a commitment is coming, he says, "Hold on a second. Make sure you understand what you're saying."

What the prospect is saying, in Franklin's words is, "You tell me you're coming, we're engaged, and once we stand up and shake hands and hug, we're engaged and there's no more dating and there's no more flirting. And then once you sign on signing day, we're married and there's no divorce. And I just make sure everybody understands that.

"So, I make sure that the coach, that the parents, that the kid, anybody else that might have a factor in that kid's recruitment, that everybody is on the same page and if they're not, then we won't go forward. And, I think that's in the kid's best interest, and I think that's in Penn State's best interest to make sure we're all on the same page. So with that approach, I feel very confident."

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