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Penn State Football: Amid Strange Recruiting Times, Unique Commitment Could Come Friday

by on September 22, 2020 2:50 PM

Penn State football might add another commitment to its 2021 class on Friday as offensive tackle Diego Pounds is slated to announce his college decision.

And while Nittany Lion fans will be happy to add another name to the fold, this would be an interesting byproduct of the times, an era when in-person visits and campus trips are a thing of the past - at least for now.

The twist? Pounds has never been to campus.

It's another wrinkle during a pandemic, not only are high school games on hold in some states, so too are the recruiting trips, in-house visits and all of the face-to-face interactions that make up a recruiting cycle. Now it's film, phone calls and a little bit of guessing.

"One of the things that I know I'm going to talk to some people about- say we sign a recruit and he comes in mid semester before going on an official visit," Penn State coach James Franklin said last week. "I would still like to be able to bring his parents in on an official visit, after he's already signed, you know, that's something we ought to talk to the NCAA about because you'd like to be able to still provide some some of that experience for him and his family."

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"But to but to me, it just it is what it is. I don't know how you can justify bringing somebody into our community or onto our campus, you know, for recruiting visit when they they haven't been tested, and they haven't quarantined and haven't done all the things that we do. I don't know how that's fair to the student athletes that we have here. And I don't know how it's fair to them as well, to the recruit."

Pounds won't change Penn State's 2021, class, a three star prospect, he's rated the 38th best offensive tackle by the 247 Network's ranking. Of course stars aren't everything, but they're something.

And they're something Franklin isn't all that happy about either. Penn State's 2021 haul fairly pedestrian by the program's usual standards. The 8th best haul in the Big Ten, Penn State has -somewhat by virtue of a smaller class of just 13 commits- had little in the way of headline-making commitments among that baker's dozen.

"I want to be clear on this, that this class is not done. But up to this point that we haven't gotten it done," Franklin added. "We have not recruited up to the standard that we normally have and I can make excuses. I can come up with a lot of reasons for that. But we haven't gotten it done the way we'd normally have gotten it done and there's a lot of factors that go into that but that's just the reality of it."

"Moving forward it's complicated, obviously you don't have official visits, you don't have unofficial visits, you don't, you didn't have the spring game, you didn't have spring practices, um, you know, and obviously where we're located. It's not like we have a bunch of recruits that live within reach of of campus, this is a place you got to, you got to come and see.

"I'm a huge believer that we are -in my mind- what you think of when you go true college town on a postcard. It's one of those things, you've got to come and see and appreciate firsthand. People can explain it to you all they want but you got to come and see it, and part of seeing it a big part of our experiences is our fans, and the support that we get not just for football. You go to a volleyball game on a Tuesday, you go to a wrestling match on a Wednesday or whatever it may be. I think that those are the things that makes Penn State so special. So it's been different. There's no doubt about it. And we've got to be able to adjust. We've got to be able to make some strategic changes and find a way to get it done and be successful but up to this point, we had not lived up to our normal standards with those things and I can point out a lot of reasons, but at the end of the day, the, did you get the job done or not."

The good news for Franklin and company is that Penn State's 2022 class is well underway towards more familiar territory, ranked third in the nation and second best in the Big Ten. And like Pounds might decide on Friday, not seeing something in person doesn't mean you can't believe in it.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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