Penn State Football Recruiting: James Franklin discusses 2018 class

Penn State head coach James Franklin talked with media members Wednesday to discuss the strong 2018 class

Wednesday brought National Signing Day, a time for college football coaches to build the future of their programs by brining in the top available recruits. This year was a bit different because most of the top prospects already signed with their school choices. Penn State head coach James Franklin was able to bring in a top-five class for the 2018 recruiting cycle.

Franklin had a press conference planned Wednesday afternoon to review the finalized class, but it had to be changed to a conference call with media members due to winter weather in State College. On that call he fielded questions about the crop of new Nittany Lions.

One area that Franklin has made a point to focus on in recruiting is the offensive line. That was a main problem area for the Nittany Lions prior to his arrival, but it’s an area that’s seen a lot of improvement.

Franklin once again made sure to get some talented recruits for the offensive line. He particularly likes players who are versatile and able to play multiple positions across the line.

“So I’m a big believer in recruiting guys that create position flexibility across the offensive line. If you’re going to recruit a guard, we would prefer the guard to be a guy that has the ability to be what we call a “swing guy.” So a guy that may not have exact offensive tackle measurables but has the athleticism and feel for the position.”

On the other side of the ball, Penn State also picked up some very talented recruits. “I think that we really helped ourselves up front on the defensive line with some guys, obviously with [Aeneas] Hawkins and [PJ] Mustipher and [Judge] Culpepper and [Jayson] Oweh, and then we got a guy like [Nick] Tarburton who creates flexibility with linebacker or defensive line,” Franklin said.

He did mention that defensive tackle in particular, along with linebacker, is a bit thin on the depth chart, so that’s why there was an emphasis on players who can play those positions. Franklin particularly mentioned Micah Parsons and Charlie Katshir as guys who are versatile enough to play multiple positions.

Another major area that was addressed in Penn State’s 2018 class is running back. It will be nearly impossible to replace Saquon Barkley, but Franklin was able to bring in five-star running back Ricky Slade as a future replacement.

Lastly, Franklin discussed the benefits of the newly created early signing period. He said that because the majority of the 2018 class was officially locked up in December, he and the rest of the coaching staff and more time to get an early jump on recruiting for the 2019 class.

Although the conference was a bit on the short side, it’s clear that Franklin is pleased with the class he was able to bring in. However, recruiting never ends, and he’s already on his way to building a top class for the next year.