James Franklin puts on a recruiting masterclass on NFL draft night

On Thursday night, with two of his players projected to be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Franklin made sure to be at both Olu Fashanu and Chop Robinson's draft parties to celebrate their biggest night.
Penn State Spring Football Game
Penn State Spring Football Game / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Being a college football head coach isn’t just about what you do on game days. There’s a lot more that goes into attracting talented players to your program and while James Franklin hasn’t had much success winning big games over his 10 years at Penn State, he’s emerged as one of the best coaches in the country for different reasons. 

On Thursday night, the first night of the NFL Draft, Franklin put on a recruiting masterclass by being there for his two biggest-name players as they officially left the program for the league. Players want to know that they’re cared about, especially in the big moments, so Franklin managed to be in two places at once. 

Franklin began draft night with Olu Fashanu and his family in Waldorf Maryland. Fashanu who could have been a first-round selection in 2023 but chose to return to Franklin’s program, was selected No. 11 overall by the New York Jets. After celebrating the third offensive first-rounder of his tenure, with Fashanu joining Saquon Barkley and Jahan Dotson, Franklin headed to Chop Robinson’s draft party in Gaithersburg Maryland, an hour away. 

Franklin made it just in time for Robinson to be drafted No. 21 overall by the Miami Dolphins. He was there to celebrate with his two best players on their biggest night and more importantly, he had the video team with him to capture the moment. 

High school recruits and, sometimes more importantly, their parents want to know that the head coach cares about the success of their son when they send him off to play college football. James Franklin can show this video to every recruit as a sign of what he’s willing to do for his guys, not to mention two first-round picks in the same year is a good selling point on its own. 

Yes, Franklin needs to beat Ohio State and Michigan. He needs to win another Big Ten title and he needs to make the college football playoff, but as long as Franklin has the energy to support his players like this and sell his program to four and five-star recruits, then Penn State will be fine and his job will be safe.

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