James Franklin appears to be a man of his word.
Two weeks ago he vowed to “dominate” recruiting when he was introduced as Penn State’s 16th head football coach.
Since then, the self-proclaimed “Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart” has put his footprint all over the college football recruiting landscape.
Franklin has landed seven commitments since January 11th, his first day on the job in Happy Valley. Two of those came over the weekend in athlete Koa Farmer and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, both four-star recruits according to Rivals.com.
Both are big commits for Franklin, especially Blacknall, who had been committed to Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights will join the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten’s East Division in 2014.
But the wave of recent recruits to commit to Penn State should come as no surprise seeing as how aggressive Franklin has been, and promises to be, on the recruiting trail going forward.
Franklin said he would “dominate the state, and dominate the region” at his inaugural Penn State presser, but has shown that he can certainly poach players from all parts of the country.
In fact, of the seven commits Franklin has gained since arriving in Happy Valley, not one of them is from the state of Pennsylvania.
California, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey and Virginia. Go figure.
Even though they’re not exactly Pennsylvania, Penn State has certainly made the most of the Northeast region over the years, and Franklin is no different to start his reign with players from Ohio, Virginia and New Jersey.
And while Franklin’s start on the Penn State recruiting trail has been mostly positive, he was unable to retain Thomas Holley, an ESPN350 defensive tackle that had been committed to the school.
Holley’s commitment had more to do with the members of the previous coaching staff moving on more than Franklin’s presence, as Holley was recruited closely by Larry Johnson Sr., who was then the Nittany Lions’ defensive line coach. Johnson has since taken the same position at Ohio State, while Holley switched his commitment to Florida on Jan. 15.
Despite losing an excellent veteran recruiter in Johnson (whom Franklin offered a job on his staff to), Franklin hasn’t skipped a beat and has no doubt that his can compete with anyone for the top talent in the country.
As it stands now, and recruiting is always an ever-changing landscape, Franklin’s 2014 class ranks 21st according to Rivals, and 25th according to ESPN.com. Not too shabby for a program still under NCAA sanctions that don’t permit the Lions to attend a bowl game for another two seasons.
While much of this class deserves a nod to former coach Bill O’Brien, Franklin has been able to keep it together for the most part and add on some impressive pieces in the process. The best part: He’s not even close to being done yet, with National Signing day still a week away.