Penn State Football: Franklin Hopeful To Run Youth Camps In Coming Years
How do you get the best talent in the state to play for your program down the road? You win them over while they're young.
And James Franklin has a plan to do just that: Youth football camps for kids not yet in high school.
“We weren’t able to get the youth camp set up for this year but we’re going to have that in the future," Franklin said this past weekend. "Because I want to get them here as early as possible that we can start Jedi mind tricking them into that the only way to do it and the only place to go is Penn State. And the earlier you start with, the better.”
Now Franklin isn't talking about offering out scholarships to kids that haven't even taken an algebra class yet, but there is a certain level of recruiting that goes on as these camps unfold. Franklin might call it Jedi mind tricking, but the idea is to win over the hearts and minds of young kids interested in football. A few of them, who turn out to be Division I level athletes, might still be fond of Penn State when it comes time to make a college choice.
Think of Adam Breneman, Penn State's co-headlining commitment of the 2013 recruiting class. He was a Penn State fan long before Penn State came calling. When the sanctions hit Breneman stood tall with the program when he could have simply taken an easier path. He could have, but he didn't, and a lot of that has to do with his already established connection to Penn State.
This kind of "practice" is fairly common in the SEC landscape where kids are practically committed to schools before they are potty-trained. While Penn State is surrounded by large population centers, as is the case for the likes of Auburn and Alabama, even if youth camps win over a handful of kids over a handful of years it's worth it in Franklin's eyes.
And if Franklin can preach the power of youth football like Clemson coach Dabo Swinney did earlier this week, it's hard to imagine parents saying no to the idea.
"The game of football is a very, very, very positive influence on young people," Swinney said. "Y’all here me? You need that, because you’re not getting it in your video games. You’re not getting it watching TV. You’re not getting that positive influence in your music. You’re not getting it in social media. You’re not getting it in the newspapers. You need that positive influence, and the game of football will give you that."