James Franklin has kept up a busy travel schedule since he was introduced as Penn State’s 16th head football coach earlier this month.
In addition to keeping up a public profile in town and around Penn State’s campus, Franklin made a special trip to Washington D.C. on Tuesday night as Rep. Glenn Thompson had him along as a guest for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
In between, he’s been across the commonwealth in order to back up his mantra that he and his staff will “dominate the state” in recruiting. On Wednesday, Franklin tweeted from Tuscon, Ariz. and later from Los Angeles, presumably chasing recruits as Penn State looks to lock up the final pieces of the 2014 class with just a week until National Letter of Intent Day.
“We’ve got some really, really exciting times right now that are happening in recruiting trying to finish up this class,” Penn State wide receivers coach Josh Gattis said. “If you give us a year here you’ll see a lot of changes in recruiting. We’re excited. We’re an aggressive staff. We’re going to go out and recruit the best and the brightest from all over the country.”
The Nittany Lions currently have 23 commits after California safety Koa Farmer and New Jersey receiver Saeed Blacknall became the most recent players to verbal to Penn State. Meanwhile, five of those commits — receiver De‘Andre Thompkins, quarterback Michael O’Connor, offensive lineman Chasz Wright and defensive linemen Tarow Barney and Antoine White — will count toward the 2013 class as they have already enrolled at Penn State.
When Penn State begins training camp in August, the Nittany Lions will be allowed to have 75 scholarship players on the roster after the NCAA lessened its scholarship restrictions on the program last fall. Taking a look at the current roster and factoring in a few unique cases of players who are no longer on the team but still enrolled at the university, Penn State can bring in two more recruits before they max out at the NCAA allotted 75 scholarship players in camp.
Counting the five early enrollees and past players who signed Letters of Intent as scholarship prospects, Penn State has 53 scholarship players on its roster. Add in scholarships for Anthony Stanko, who is still a Penn State student despite having given up football, and one for Jordan Kerner who suffered a career-threatening neck injury but remains enrolled, and Penn State has 55 scholarship players.
Assuming the 18 players in the 2014 Class don’t decommit, Penn State is up to 73 scholarship players and can add two more and still be within the NCAA-mandated 20 scholarship limit for this year.
Understanding how many scholarships are available hasn’t offered too steep a learning curve, Penn State defensive line coach Sean Spencer said.
“You understand that’s there and that’s a part of it and you knew it coming into the job,” Spencer said. “One of the things, when I watched Penn State last year, one of the things I loved about the team is how with all that stuff going on, they stayed together. That was powerful.”