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Franklin earns win-win in his first Penn State spring game

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When I sat down with James Franklin four days before spring practice began in early March, he told me he was “not out to win spring ball.”

 

At his first spring game, though, Franklin won big.

 

Twice.

 

Before Saturday’s Blue-White game even kicked off, Penn State took over the unanimous lead in the national Class of 2015 recruiting class rankings when Maryland defensive end Adam McLean took to Twitter announce a verbal commitment to Penn State.

 

McLean, 6 feet 1, 282 pounds, is rated as a four-star prospect by all three major recruiting services. According to Rivals, he had more than two dozen scholarship offers, notably from high-profile schools such as Alabama, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Florida State. Yes, Pitt had offered him a scholarship, too – and, yes, it makes it a clean sweep of nine 2015 prospects now that had offers from both Pitt and Penn State who chose PSU.

 

McLean’s commitment buoyed Penn State to No. 1 in all three of the major recruiting sites’ national rankings: Scout, Rivals and 247. Yes, that’s ahead of Alabama in all three. And PSU is the only school with 12 commitments so far.

 

(As an aside, the news could be getting even better for Franklin & Co.: Baldwin offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins was one of 40 signees/prospects to be on hand at Beaver Stadium on Saturday, and Jenkins – already with Penn State No. 1 on his list – dropped some strong hints he might be close to making it official – or at least as “official” as a non-binding verbal commitment can be).

 

(Another tangent for my usual recruiting disclaimer: I have never seen any of Penn State’s commitments play in person – and I’m betting neither have anyone reading this. Also, again, all these verbal commitments are just only that – verbal – and the smart money is that one way or another that somehow, some way, the ’15 PSU class changes somehow prior to signing day next February. Both those things said, the objective and subjective ratings by the major recruiting services – outlets that do these things for a living – are all we have to go on, so we will trust them, at least as a relative basis of comparison. And the vast majority of these verbal commitments – if not all – will stay PSU loyalists all the way through to February).

 

Back to Franklin’s second “win.” The Blue-White Game drew an announced estimated 72,000. I have not the time nor energy to verify this with all other 120-plus schools who held a spring game, but it has been reported by multiple outlets that Penn State, so far, has had the largest attendance for a spring game in 2014.

 

The relative impact of recruiting among the list of things that comprise a successful program can be debated. It’s somewhere between “extremely important” and “important – but only one piece of a player-development puzzle that is only one piece of the overall program health puzzle.” We all can agree that none of these recruits has won Penn State a game yet.

 

That said, Franklin’s selling seemingly whatever recruits he wants on the PSU program. And he also sold 72,000 Penn State fans, students and alumni on taking in a intrasquad scrimmage.

 

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Author: Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski has been tirelessly working in Pittsburgh sports media for more than 12 years. He has extensively covered the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL and been a fixture at the biggest events in town over that time -- two Stanley Cup Finals, two AFC Championship games, the 2006 MLB All-Star Game and the 2011 NHL Winter Classic, just to name a few. Chris has been the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Penn State football beat writer since the start of the 2013 season. His primary offseason responsibility is assisting in the Trib's Penguins hockey coverage.

 
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