Penn State football: Recruiting class came together over a hectic final few days

tjohnson@centredaily.comFebruary 7, 2014 

— Andy Frank’s official title with the Penn State football program is Director of Player Personnel.

Over the final few weeks of the recent recruiting period, Frank functioned more like James Franklin’s travel agent.

“For me at this time of the year, a large part of my job is figuring out where he is going and how he is getting there,” Franks said.

Franklin took over with less than a month to go before National Letter of Intent Day and had seven spots to fill in Penn State’s 2014 recruiting class. So he went to work along with his staff.

Frank, a Princeton graduate, went to work coordinating behind the scenes.

Using a grid of all of Penn State’s coaches, their recruiting areas and corresponding recruits’ locations, Frank mapped out the most efficient travel plans for coaches to check in on players who had already committed to Bill O’Brien’s staff. He also highlighted other schools nearby where coaches could drop in and check on uncommitted players they had already had contact with.

Pennsylvania was an early emphasis. Even if coaches weren’t traveling to meet with players, they had plenty of relationship-building to do with high school coaches and athletic directors, Frank said.

“Our coaches have always done a really good job of maximizing their days and not just going to see that one guy that’s committed to you or one guy you’ve recruited,” Frank said. “I think everybody on our staff does a great job when they go to a city, wherever that city may be, there may be one guy that is the guy at that moment they’re trying to recruit, but they’re going to go to four, five, eight other schools to try to recruit for the future.”

It was a strategy that required around-the-clock planning as Franklin’s new staff had very little time to develop rapports with current commits and convince new ones to choose Penn State.

“It’s a tricky puzzle,” Frank said. “It’s even trickier when the time is shorter because he’s got to get a lot of work in.”

Franklin described how busy his first few weeks on the job were, especially a four-day stretch last week where he crossed North America twice after spending Tuesday night in the crowd during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Afterward, Franklin flew from DC into Arizona and hopped a plane to Los Angeles before visiting with safety Koa Farmer in Riverside, Calif. A red-eye flight brought Franklin back to the east coast where his recruiting travels continued on Day 3.

“I texted (Frank) on the red-eye flight,” Franklin said. “And said ‘You won’t break me, I know you’re trying to break me. You won’t break me.’”

It didn’t get easier.

Upon landing, Frank had Franklin head southbound from D.C. to Fairfax, Va. where Franklin did a home visit with running back Nick Scott before Franklin was on a flight later that day to Scranton to visit offensive lineman Noah Beh. Flights to Pittsburgh and later that night to Atlanta followed before Franklin returned to Happy Valley on Day 4 with an almost-complete class.

All-in-all, Franklin traveled nearly 8,000 miles in four days.

“You know we had some fun with it, but that’s how the process went, we were flying around doing whatever we had to do to put this class together,” Franklin said. “(We) worked hard to put a product on the field and off the field in this community that everybody can be really proud of.”

Follow Travis Johnson on Twitter @bytravisjohnson.

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