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Penn State Football: Franklin Hopeful New Academic Plan Will Lead To Even Higher Graduation Numbers

by on May 04, 2014 6:00 AM

Penn State football has always been synonymous for an athletic program graduating players and playing the game at the highest level.

But that doesn't mean that James Franklin is going to be satisfied with the status quo. Franklin's goal moving forward: graduate players in 3.5 years. That means players will have either finished their degree in time for the draft, or continue their education with an additional undergraduate degree or a masters in their final year of eligibility.

"I’ve seen too many times that you have that redshirt senior or typically a true senior that in December he’s been there three-and-a-half years and he’s got 6 credits left to graduate," Franklin said on Thursday. "And he signs with an agent and the agent is telling him he needs to go to Miami or Arizona to train for the combine and you’ll go back and finish those credits up later. And they don’t."

And Franklin is right. While not common at Penn State, there is always a threat that a student athlete will go pro without finishing up what he or she has started in school. Franklin is hopeful that his vision for graduating players in less than four years will keep all of his player's options open.

"So our plan is you graduate in the three-and-a-half years, so now they can go leave and train or do whatever you want for the combine , and that’s behind them," Franklin said.

"Or if they have another year of eligibility left, now that kid can start working on grad school or that young man can work on a second major, whatever that may be. So now he’s differentiated himself from other student-athletes and other students in general because now he’s got two degrees. He’s already got work toward a master’s degree, so when he goes out in the real world, he can show that not only was I a student-athlete or an academic All-American or an All-American on the football field, I was able to get a master’s degree or a second major.

"It’s not enough to just get your degree from Penn State. That’s a foregone conclusion; you’re going to graduate from Penn State. Not only that but our guys are going to be able to work toward second degrees and master’s degrees and things like that. That’s something we talk about from day one. And the fact our guys are here pretty much year-round going to summer school is really no reason that can’t happen."

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Franklin has his current team working hard this offseason with many taking up to 9 credits of class work. It's not as though Franklin will be revolutionizing an already successful athletic program's academic side, but it's clear that football isn't the only thing he is managing from the Lasch Football building.

"That is the conversation from the first day they’re being recruited," Franklin said of his academic plan for his players.

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