When James Franklin was hired as the new head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions back in January, a lot of fans were excited. Franklin, the former head coach at Vanderbilt, took that school from an unknown to a place where top talent wanted to play. Franklin came to Happy Valley with a reputation as a great recruiter and has wasted no time proving why.
Shortly after being named head coach, Franklin added to the nearly finalized 2014 class. Now, just about two months into the official 2015 recruiting season, he’s already secured 11 commitments for the Nittany Lions. Eight of the prospects are rated as 4-star recruits and considered some of the best available at their respective positions.
During his introductory press conference, Franklin talked about how he wanted to dominate recruiting and make Penn State a place where the best players would want to come. During the press conference I asked him if he was trying to strike fear into the heart of Urban Meyer, considered the best recruiter in the Big Ten. Franklin wouldn’t admit that in his answer to me, but he’s clearly made his presence felt around the conference.
This past weekend, the Nittany Lions received commitments from two top players who were predicted to head elsewhere. 4-star offensive guard Steven Gonzalez was expected to sign with Meyer at Ohio State, but surprised many when he chose Penn State. 4-star linebacker Josh Barajas, the No. 2 inside linebacker in the class according to 247Sports, had in-state power Notre Dame at the top of his list, but visited with Franklin at Penn State last weekend and later decided on the Nittany Lions. Fellow Big Ten foes Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin were all trying to land Barajas.
Currently, 247Sports has the Nittany Lions ranked as the No.2 recruiting class for 2015 and the best class in the Big Ten Conference.
Keep in mind that Franklin has done all of this in a matter of months, all while still under sanctions from the NCAA. Despite being unable to play in the postseason for the next two years, some of the best high school football players in the nation have still decided to head to Penn State.
Franklin has certainly kept up his end of the deal when it comes to recruiting. At the rate he’s going, Franklin looks to be building a powerhouse in Happy Valley.
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