Blue White Illustrated

Signing Day Newsletter

Penn State Sports Magazine

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 13

NATE  BAUER | N B A U E R @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M F E B R U A R Y 4 , 2 0 1 6 B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M 2 the relationships that have already been established and the quality of the players who will now call Happy Valley home. "You really want it to be about relation- ships and about the things that we think it should be about, which is getting a world-class education and surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who want to go on and be really, really successful. So it's been fun," Franklin said. "It's been crazy, and we're looking forward to getting these guys on campus so we can continue to build on the foun- dation that their parents have laid and help these guys mature and leave here as educated men who are prepared for life." Acknowledging that he and the rest of the staff are still very much looking to improve in future years on the No. 3 re- cruiting ranking in the Big Ten and on the national recruiting landscape, Franklin noted that the perseverance of the entire organization was something he took spe- cial pride in. "There were some challenges, no doubt about it. I'm really, really proud of the coaches and how they handled that, how they handled that adversity," he said. "I couldn't be more proud and more excited about the direction, because it's easy to look at things when everything is going smooth and easy. It's [a question of], how do you handle adversity?" The mood around State College Wednesday morning was decidedly dreary. Though better than snow, a cold rain had blanketed the area, leaving those outside to decide between looking into indistinguishable grey skies above or at the wet ground below. But through back hallways, a sparkling new lobby and up the stairs of Penn State's Lasch Football Building, a markedly different atmosphere existed. Like a bouncing, bubbling speakeasy hidden behind an empty storefront, the area in which head coach James Franklin, his staff and a handful of play- ers and supporters had gathered stood in stark contrast to the outside world. It was a scene of celebration. Upstairs in the coaches' lobby, a giant white board with a countdown – 1 through 20 – adorned an area typically reserved for potted plants and furni- ture. Instead of a coffee table or trophy case, a U-shaped set of conference ta- bles stood, decorated in blue and white and ringed by coaches and support per- sonnel, with Franklin taking center stage and excitedly staring at a wall of television panels. As they did the previous two years, the coaches welcomed the newest members of Penn State's football family via a video conference connection. Standing at a podium in the corner of the room, a group of cheerleaders pumped up the gathered personnel, special guests and community members in a call-and-re- sponse hype. And into the scene stepped one the most dynamic person- alities in recent Penn State history, for- mer walk-on quarterback and current Oakland Raider Matt McGloin. The West Scranton Gunslinger piv- oted, reading a cue card announcing the name of the most recent Class of 2016 commitment to sign and fax in his offi- cial letter of intent. "With the sixth pick in the 2016 Na- tional Signing Day DraB, the Nittany Lions select, from Exeter Township Senior High School in Reading, Pa., of- fensive lineman Michal Menet!" The room cheered, McGloin smiled and walked over to hug Franklin, all for the pleasure of the Menet family trans- ported some 150-plus miles into the building virtually. It hardly bears repeating that the con- versation surrounding Penn State's Class of 2016 has taken on a different tone in the past few weeks. Through a series of decommitments, the Nittany Lions saw Lavert Hill and Karamo Dioubate reopen their recruitment, Aaron Mathews flip to Pitt, Michael Dwumfour head to Michigan, and kicker Quinn Nordin's circus resolve elsewhere. With those players out, the Nittany Lions added Antonio Shelton, Anthony Johnson, Dae'lun Darien, Alex Barbir, Tyrell Chavis and Brenon ThriB. To call it messy might be an under- statement. But to not acknowledge that nearly every program across the country in major college football has experienced some degree of last-minute hand- wringing would be disingenuous. This is how it works now, and without major changes to the recruiting rulebook in the foreseeable future, the new normal will only be amplified moving forward. The process of high-profile recruiting has changed so completely that not even the steadiest, most powerful pro- grams are immune to last-minute changes. And given all the volatility, the ability to adapt has become paramount. Fortunately for Penn State, this is one area in which Franklin and his staff excel. For all the criticism they've re- ceived, there's no way to deny the overwhelming level of preparation that goes into the program's operation. Quite simply, these coaches are ob- sessed with never, ever being caught off-guard or unprepared. This is a staff that has backup plans for its backup plans, and the scene on signing day was yet another illustration of that philosophy. While the ups and downs of recruiting season inevitably give rise to plenty of discussion, debate and argumentation, the people in charge of the program have a responsibility to remain even- keeled and clear-eyed. In spite of the fog and rain that clouded the view on Wednesday morning, the Nittany Lions were able to do exactly that. Amid turbulence, Penn State's staff stays the course

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue White Illustrated - Signing Day Newsletter