Penn State's Franklin reels in 20 recruits

Posted: February 07, 2014

For his first recruiting class as the head coach at Penn State, James Franklin leaned on the relationships he developed with the recruits he had attracted both at his current job and at his former position at Vanderbilt.

The result was a full class of 20 players, including a final commitment on Wednesday, who returned their letters of intent and officially became members of the Nittany Lions' incoming class for 2014.

"The staff kept recruiting and kept making phone calls, finding guys that we had relationships with to see if they were interested," Franklin said at a late afternoon news conference in Beaver Stadium. "Only if we felt like that was a great fit for us [would we take them], and we did. I'm very proud of how the staff was able to find some guys."

The class was rated 24th in the nation by ESPN,, and 247Sports, and 25th by Twelve states were represented by Wednesday's signings, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, which combined for eight players.

The Penn State signees included a late addition - defensive end Torrence Brown of Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Academy, who originally committed to Southern Mississippi. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Brown showed versatility in high school, playing running back, linebacker, tight end, wide receiver, and defensive end.

The Nittany Lions had one scholarship left to give to Brown after defensive end Lloyd Tubman pulled out of his commitment to Penn State on Tuesday. Tubman committed to Kentucky.

Brown and safety Christian Campbell of Phenix City, Ala., both committed in the last few days, giving their word to Franklin without visiting Penn State.

"That goes back to what we've been reinforcing all the time," Franklin said. "It's about relationships. Those kids and their families were comfortable with us, and then, obviously, Penn State speaks for itself."

The recruiting class includes five players who had committed to Franklin when he coached at Vanderbilt, and changed after Franklin accepted the Penn State job. The coach took heat for what some called a raid on the Commodores' class, but he responded Wednesday by saying, "I go to sleep at night feeling really good about how we conduct our business."

"We called all our former Vanderbilt commitments to let them know what happened and why," he said. "To be honest with you, a lot of those kids started recruiting us, and that's because of the relationship we had with them. We all know the school is a huge factor, but once the guys narrow it down, it comes down to relationships."

The 20 signed players joined five players who began classes last month and count as 2013 enrollees, a group that includes Millville (N.J.) High School defensive tackle Antoine White. Of the 25, 16 had committed to Bill O'Brien and stayed after O'Brien left to become coach of the Houston Texans in the NFL.

The signees included three from Pennsylvania (cornerback Daquan Worley of Coatesville, offensive lineman Noah Beh of Scranton, and wide receiver Troy Apke of Mount Lebanon), three from New Jersey (linebacker Jason Cabinda of Flemington, tight end Mike Gesicki of Manahawkin, and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall of Englishtown), and two from Delaware (linebacker Troy Reeder of Wilmington and wide receiver Chris Godwin of Middletown).

In a twist from the Joe Paterno era, when Paterno would barely acknowledge the new class of signees, Franklin created a "war room" at the Lasch Football Building, complete with a big board where every name was posted as soon as his letter of intent was received.

One Twitter video showed members of the Penn State Blue Band celebrating the announcement of a player.

There was no drama to be had. It took less than 31/2 hours for the Nittany Lions to receive all the letters they had expected.


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