In his three years at Penn State — and six total seasons as a head coach — James Franklin has been called a used-car salesman by some.
And, frankly, he doesn’t care for it.
“I take a little offense when people always say, ‘Those guys at Penn State and James Franklin, they’re great recruiters.’ Well, I get that,” Franklin said at Penn State Harrisburg during his fourth stop on the Coaches Caravan. “But I would hope at this point, after what we did at Vanderbilt and with what we’re doing at Penn State, people would say, ‘These guys do a great job of developing their players. They do a great job coaching their players.’
“There’s nothing wrong with being a great recruiter, but I think our staff and our program is more than that.”
To Franklin, “more than that” is a 2016 Big Ten championship and the behind-the-scenes work necessary to pull off such a feat. Sure, recruiting is a part of that but, in his mind, it’s primarily about player development — whether that was at Vanderbilt, where he led the Commodores to their first nine-win season in nearly a century, or at Penn State, which overcame a 2-2 start to win the Big Ten last season.
And Franklin doesn’t think his staff gets enough credit for that. He just hopes that, one day, that changes.
“I’m talking about everything,” Franklin said. “I’m talking about preparing our guys for life. We’re preparing them for Big Ten football, and we’re preparing them for the NFL. That’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
Franklin offers take on early signing period
Franklin has said before that an early college football signing period wouldn’t change much for his staff’s approach — but he does believe it’ll alter National Signing Day as we now know it.
A 72-hour early signing period in late December, starting with the 2018 class, was approved Monday by the College Commissioners Association. A second date — the first Wednesday of February — will remain, but Franklin thinks the December signing day will take over.
“I think that’s going to become the normal signing day,” the coach said. “If I had to guess, I’d say 75 to 80 percent of guys will sign on the first signing date. Then there will be some things that are kind of just sitting out there.”
Franklin said a surprise on signing day becomes less likely now, which he considers to be a positive. And if his staff gets shocked on the first signing day in a negative way, the coaches have a few weeks to lock things down for the second date.
Still, Franklin believes there are “unforeseen consequences” on the horizon as a result of the early signing period.
“That’s kind of how I felt all along,” the coach added. “But I don’t think it’ll be significant as people think.”
Joey Julius update
Franklin offered his backing to Penn State kicker Joey Julius, who announced Friday that he’s sought treatment again for his binge eating disorder.
“I’m very supportive of all our guys who are going through whatever setbacks and whatever challenges,” Franklin said. “But I don’t think it’d be appropriate to talk about the specifics, and I don’t even know if I’m allowed to based on HIPAA laws and things like that.”
Julius, who was initially admitted to a binge eating disorder center in St. Louis last summer, returned after “struggling over the last couple months,” according to his Facebook post.
Julius remains listed on Penn State’s roster, and special teams coordinator Charles Huff said after last month’s Blue-White game that the kicker, known for his crushing hits on kickoffs, intended to return for the 2017 season.