When James Franklin was introduced as Penn State’s head coach on Saturday, he said that he would “recruit aggressively.” He wasn’t lying.
On that same night, Franklin got two players – offensive tackle Chance Sorrell and defensive end Lloyd Tubman – to switch their verbal commitments from Vanderbilt, his former school, to Penn State, his new school. And according to The Tennessean, Franklin has offered scholarships to “at least six” other Vanderbilt verbal commits as of Sunday night. Several of those prospects have already decommitted from Vandy.
It is not uncommon for a prospect to flip schools when a coaching change happens, but according to Rivals.com’s Jesse Johnson, the volume of players Franklin is trying to recruit away from Vanderbilt is not exactly common.
“I’ve never seen it in this volume, quite this fast, of someone trying to pillage their own commitment class for their new job,” Johnson told The Tennessean. “Normally, you’re going to have staffs take some kids. But I don’t think I’ve seen many cases where it seems like the entire class is trying to be taken to the next job.”
Recruiting can be an ugly part of the college football world, and this is a perfect example of that. Ethics – if those even exist in college football anymore -- get called into question. Franklin is trying to build a national contender at Penn State, but to do so at the expense of the school that gave him his first head coaching job is certainly going to be questioned.
With the now-lightened NCAA sanctions still looming over the Penn State program, Franklin now has to deal with scholarship reductions and a class that can technically only take 20 recruits.
With Bill O’Brien at the helm, his staff stressed early enrollment to many Nittany Lion recruits to help bring in more players. In fact, after the two commitments Franklin secured on Saturday night, the Nittany Lions currently stand at 21 verbal commitments. Five of those recruits enrolled this past weekend, and three of them count toward the 2013 class, so – to the best of my knowledge – Penn State can sign 23 prospects.
Of course with O’Brien gone, it would not be a surprise if a few of Penn State’s commits decide to open up their recruiting with national signing day on the horizon on Feb. 5, but it appears that Penn State is closing in on its maximum number of scholarships.
Face-to-face contact between coaches and prospects can resume with the end of the recruiting dead period on Wednesday. For both Vanderbilt and Penn State, the sprint to signing day, especially with the number of offers Franklin has reportedly given out, should be an interesting one.
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