Franklin acknowledges his 'man crush' on new Eagles WR

Posted: May 15, 2014

JAMES FRANKLIN doesn't veil his affection for Jordan Matthews. The energetic first-year Penn State football coach went as far to say yesterday that he has a "man crush" on the Eagles' newest wide receiver.

"He has all the physical things that are going to allow him to be successful at the next level," said Franklin, who coached Matthews the last three seasons at Vanderbilt. "The thing I'm most excited about is I know how driven that guy is. When your best player on your team is also your hardest-working guy, that's unbelievably valuable."

Matthews, the Eagles' second-round draft pick (42nd overall) on Friday, finished his Vanderbilt career as the SEC's all-time leader in receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759). Listed at 6-3 and 212 pounds, Matthews, a cousin of Jerry Rice, caught an SEC-record 112 passes his senior season.

Speaking to reporters at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, No. 8 in the 17-stop Penn State coaches' caravan, Franklin said he's excited for Chip Kelly and the Eagles. The Langhorne native lauded Matthews' smarts - he graduated in 3 1/2 years with an economics degree - large hands and long arms. The Eagles, Franklin said, can utilize Matthews in many ways, from sending him in motion to lining him up at any of the top three receiver spots.

"Six-three, 212 pounds; nobody wanted to give him credit for being fast," said Franklin, whose next stop is a luncheon this afternoon at the Rittenhouse Hotel in Center City. "I think the longer guys, a lot of times they just don't look as quick and fast, because they're eating up so much more ground with their strides.

"You're talking about the all-time leading receiver in SEC history, career and single season. And you're talking about a guy that everybody knew in that league that we were going to try to get him as many touches as possible and they still couldn't stop it. He had 10 to 12 catches a game."

And what about Carey Spear, the undrafted kicker from Vanderbilt the Eagles signed, whose crushing hits and "Murderleg" moniker has already drawn buzz among Philly fans?

"He's awesome," Franklin said. "He called me the other day. Both Carey and Jordan are really close with my daughters and my wife; come to the house for dinner and all those types of things . . . [Spear] had a hit against Tennessee [now-Minnesota receiver Cordarrelle Patterson] a few years ago that was unbelievable.

"He's a football player who happens to kick."

Franklin on recruiting

Although in only their fourth month at the helm, Franklin and his staff's prowess on the recruiting trail has made headlines.

Penn State has the second-best recruiting class for 2015, according to recruiting sites Scout.com and Rivals.com. Just last Tuesday, Franklin landed a pair of four-star recruits in offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins and quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Jenkins, of Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh, is ranked the top recruit in the state by Rivals.com.

Considering Penn State's scholarship limitations in the wake of the 2011 Jerry Sandusky child-sex abuse scandal, Franklin was asked whether he foresees more recruits committing to the school than the program has scholarships. It is an issue, he acknowledged, but a good one.

"I wish we had 45 scholarships to give out," he said. "We don't, which is a little bit of a shame, because we've got great momentum right now, and there's a lot of people that want to be part of what we're doing and where we're going. That's a good position to be in. We want to be in this position every year, where there are a lot of good players that want to come."


On Twitter: @jakemkaplan

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