Penn State's Franklin deals with scholarship squeeze

Nittany Lions coach James Franklin poses with Penn State alumni Rob and Lori Ridyard and their son Connor at the Valley Forge Casino. Franklin said the scholarship limitations have been "a real issue . . . for probably the last month or so."
Nittany Lions coach James Franklin poses with Penn State alumni Rob and Lori Ridyard and their son Connor at the Valley Forge Casino. Franklin said the scholarship limitations have been "a real issue . . . for probably the last month or so." (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 15, 2014

For the first time since the NCAA imposed sanctions on Penn State nearly two years ago, the Nittany Lions have a full complement of 25 scholarships to give to the incoming freshman class of 2015.

That still might not be enough for first-year coach James Franklin, who has gotten off to a quick start in recruiting, with oral commitments from 16 players. Because of NCAA sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions still will be five scholarships short of the maximum of 85 allowed to Division I teams in 2015.

Franklin would not comment on the numbers, but he acknowledged Tuesday that the scholarship squeeze has been "a real issue . . . for probably the last month or so" in a recruiting class that ranks as high as second nationally.

"I wish we had 45 scholarships to give out," Franklin said Tuesday at the Valley Forge Casino, the latest stop on the Penn State coaches caravan. "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 a part of what we're doing and where we're going. That's a good position to be in."

Franklin said that he has quotas by position and that he and his staff have had "open and honest conversations with the high school coaches and the parents and the kids."

"They kind of understand that," he said. "The positive thing, I think, in a lot of ways is, the guys that we're recruiting, they have a lot of options. So it's not like if it doesn't work out at Penn State, they don't have other options. We're just up front and honest. I think people understand when they really think about it."

On another subject, Franklin had nothing but praise for Jordan Matthews, who played wide receiver for him at Vanderbilt and was chosen by the Eagles in the second round of the NFL draft.

"I've got a man crush on Jordan Matthews, I do," he said. "He has all the physical things that are going to allow him to be successful at the next level. The thing I'm most excited about is how driven that guy is. When your best player on your team is also your hardest-working guy, that's unbelievably valuable. And he's smart. They're going to be able to use him in a lot of different ways."


jjuliano@phillynews.com

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