What does Penn State recruiting want to accomplish at Blue-White versus Junior Day?
One hour before Penn State’s Blue-White game began, the south end zone gates opened and a host of teenagers and their family and/or high school coaches walked through.
In due time, the home sideline at Beaver Stadium was filled a couple of rows deep, as the program’s biggest recruiting weekend of the spring, at least in terms of sheer size, brought a host of recruits to campus as expected.
What did it look like? Here’s merely about a tenth of the sideline:
A look at just a small section of recruits on the field at Beaver Stadium before the Blue-White game in April 2017.Greg Pickel | firstname.lastname@example.org
Similar recruit crowd sizes were seen at programs for spring games across the country, and so perhaps to the casual observer, the number of prospects on hand would seem to follow the bigger is better philosophy. But, really, that isn’t the case.
“The spring game is more about the environment,” Penn State coach James Franklin said during the Coaches Caravan.
It indeed is, as undoubtedly, a thought about Beaver Stadium and the crowd is almost always a part of the response a prospect gives when asked about his favorite part of the trip.
“We get very little contact with them because you’re so busy,” Franklin continued. “That’s one of the problems in football; very easily, you have 150 recruits show up to a football game, and then their parents as well, and you’re trying to make sure all these people have a good experience, and the [staff] numbers make it really challenging.”
Next year’s addition of a 10th assistant coach will help in that matter, but with it comes another question: Will that extra coach be more useful for solving the coach to player ratio, the coach to recruit ratio, or a mixture of both? There’s no right answer, accept for adding more recruiting staff who do not coach on-field and cannot see prospects off-campus but can help out with monitoring visits and also keeping in touch via social media.
At the end of the day, the better program staff to recruit ratio, the better.
It’s why you read a lot about “junior days” in the plural form instead of the singular, which is how things used to work. It’s preferable to have 10 kids visit at a time over 10 different days than 100 kids visiting on one day, yet it’s also a test for coaching staffs who wouldn’t mind a weekend off every now and again.
“You try to do them in small groups so you can really get to know them and they can get to know you and it’s more personal and intimate, but that’s where the problems come; now your staff never has a day off,” Franklin explained. There’s very rarely that there’s a weekend off.”
This weekend is a good example, in fact, because the Lions will be hosting four-star Warner Robins, Ga., offensive tackle Christian Armstrong, Blair, N.J., three-star defensive lineman Jayson Oweh, Fairburn, Ga., three-star corner Telly Plummer, and others while also appearing at the Penn State baseball game versus Nebraska. It’s billed as a mini Junior Day (and sophomores will likely be on hand as well) and is one of three or four the program has held since January.
The goal of them is to get a small group on campus, while the Blue-White game, and all game day visits, are generally about what can be gleaned from the stadium and fans.
“The game is more about experience than anything,” Franklin said. “It’s more about from an organizational standpoint, where the message is different when we’re having juniors days or individual one-on-one visits and things like that. That’s the challenge I think always with football, the numbers, managing the numbers.”
Both have a purpose, and both have helped Penn State land recruits, too.