What description does Penn State’s James Franklin take some offense to?
It’s true that Penn State’s James Franklin and his staff, from Vanderbilt to State College and everywhere they’ve been in-between, carry with them recruiting chops that allow them to find diamond in the roughs while landing top prospects early and often in the recruiting game.
Franklin does not want, nor does he believe, he and his staff to be viewed only in that vein, though, even if it has been the way media outlets, other coaches, and even some of their mentors have described them since the head coach and most of his assistants arrived on campus four years ago.
“To be honest with you, I take a little offense when people always say ‘well, those guys at Penn State and James Franklin, they’re great recruiters,'” Franklin said at the school’s Coaches Caravan stop at PSU’s Harrisburg campus in Middletown earlier this week.
“Well, I get that, but I would hope at this point, after what we did at Vanderbilt, and what we did and what we’re doing at Penn State, that people would say ‘hey, these guys do a great job of developing their players, these guys do a great job of coaching their players.’ There’s nothing wrong with being a great recruiter, but I think our staff, and our program, is more than that.”
The answer came in response to a question about what Franklin believes his program does best, considering he is so often asked about how the things Penn State has and does compares to the best offerings at other programs.
His choice? Development, from players to staff, and not only to help them go from college to the NFL, but also to jobs in the field players studied in and for coaches, helping them move from graduate assistant to paid assistant.
“You look at what we did at [Vanderbilt] in three years, we did a heck of a job with development, and I think in year three, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that in year three we would have won a Big Ten championship in our first year back to 85 [scholarships],” Franklin said. “That’s the thing I’m most proud of.
“I’m talking about the whole picture, because when you say development a lot of times as a football coach, then people think you’re talking about football. I’m talking about everything. I’m talking about preparing our guys for life, for Big Ten football, for the NFL. That’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
Continuing to maximize that strength will be key moving forward, too, as the Lions will continue to fight to climb to the top of the mountain in a tough Big Ten East while trying to raise money for major facility improvements while also aiming to keep graduation rates and academic successes high.
It’s a job for more than just simply a good football recruiter, and heading into year four at Penn State, Franklin and his staff have indeed earned the right to be considered as more well-rounded and accomplished than that.