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Believe The Hype

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If it were ever revealed that Penn State head coach James Franklin didn’t participate in the daily activity that most humans call “sleep,” Nittany Lions fans shouldn’t be surprised.

That’s because he’s always somewhere recruiting, and he makes sure he’s doing it with undivided attention.

“First all,” Franklin told reporters last month, “I was supposed to give you guys eight to ten minutes last week. I gave you six minutes. I apologize. We had some recruits here. I got excited. I wanted to get to them. So today, I’m supposed to give you eight to ten minutes, and you’ll get 11 minutes as a make-up.”

Since Franklin replaced former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, who left in January to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans, Franklin has made headlines for his plan to “dominate the state” of Pennsylvania in recruiting, but he has so far exceeded his own recruiting expectations.

His commitments have come from high school seniors nationwide, and he’s on his way to dominating the country.

Brian Tripp is a radio host for State College’s ESPN Radio 1450. He said he’s seen the bond that Franklin is capable of forming with young high school athletes.

“One of the biggest things James Franklin does is build a relationship with players and build a trust,” Tripp said. “So along with the energy and passion he has for the job is finding a relationship and a trust with the players and their families, trying to build a family-like atmosphere to fit his core values for the program.”

Only Alabama has a better 2015 commitment list than Penn State according to Rivals.com and Scout.com.

The class, so far, has been highlighted by running backs Andre Robinson and Saquan Barkley, who chose Penn State over Pitt and others; wide receiver Juwan Johnson, who gave Franklin his commitment over Ohio State, Alabama and others; and a trio of offensive linemen – Sterling Jenkins, Steven Gonzalez and Ryan Bates – who had long lists of offers.

“Jenkins is gigantic,” Tripp said of the 6-foot-8, 296-pound tackle who chose Penn State over Ohio State.

Six of the commits are natives of Pennsylvania.

“He’s really trying to do what has been the foundation of Penn State’s success for so many years, and that is recruiting the mid-atlantic region,” Tripp said.

No matter how highly-rated his 13 current commits are, though, Franklin’s most daunting tasks lay ahead of him. He is far from finished, and he is still in the mix for a lot of young talent, both at the national and regional levels.

George Campbell, a wide receiver from Florida who is rated a five-star by Rivals.com, is one such player, but Florida and Florida State appear to be the early favorites for Campbell.

In addition to Johnson and Brandon Polk, Franklin’s second wide receiver commit, the Lions are in the mix for four-star wide receivers Irvin Charles, Trent Irwin, Van Jefferson, Christian Kirk and Alex Ofodile.

Franklin hasn’t yet landed a quarterback in the 2014 class, but he may get a commitment from one of two four-star talents. Brady White from California and Brandon Wimbush from New Jersey are both pro-style quarterbacks with scholarship offers from Franklin.

Another WPIAL product, defensive back Jordan Whitehead from Central Valley, is being actively pursued by Franklin and his staff. Whitehead has offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pitt and others.

Most of the mentioned recruits were on-hand for Penn State’s spring Blue-White Game.

Beaver Stadium accommodated 60,000 for the game, and the atmosphere was of interest to many recruits.

“It looked like good old Penn State football,” Tripp added. “Just like what a lot of people would call the ‘good ole’ days.’”

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