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Penn State Football: Recruiting Success This Year Investment in Future

by on February 06, 2015 2:00 PM

There were a lot of ways Penn State's first full recruiting class under James Franklin could have gone.

Success was never a guarantee with an up and down season and an uncertain future ahead.

So for Franklin and his staff to have pulled off the second best recruiting haul in the Big Ten and the 11th best in the nation isn't something to overlook. Even more so when you consider Penn State has averaged classes outside the Top 25 the past five years.

But one good recruiting class doesn't guarantee long term success. It has to be sustained on and off the field. That's why getting off on the right foot is nearly as important as the strength of the class itself. The bar is set high, but there are worse problems to have to deal with.

The key to the early success?

"Well I think the first thing is to come in and make some really bold statements in your press conference and not give yourself any other choice," Franklin said earlier this week about his "Dominate the State" mantra.

"But I think more than anything I think the fact that you look at our staff, I'm from Pennsylvania, Bob Shoop is from Oakmont, Pennsylvania.  Brent Pry is from Altoona, you look at John Donovan is from New Jersey and has recruited the area for a long time. Herb Hand's from New York."

"We got so many guys. Terry Smith, being able to bring Terry Smith back, bring him back home had a huge impact in Western PA, because if you study Penn State in the last five, 10 years, most of the Western PA kids were going to West Virginia and going to Ohio State and going to Pitt.  So I think that was significant as well. I think Terry was a major factor in that."

"So I don't think it's anything different than anything else in life, you make something a priority, whether it's being a great student in school, you make it a priority, you're going to do well. You make it a priority to keep the best players in this region home you're going to do that and I think we can do better going forward."

Getting better going forward will take some significant effort. Penn State brought in seven of the Top 10 players in the state. The depth of the class can be improved, but overall it will be difficult to outdo this first class.

According to recruiting coordinator Terry Smith, the payoff for recruiting well this season will be seen during next year's efforts on the trail, but also down the road when the current recruits have spent time in the program.

"It won't be easy," Smith said. "But it gives us the opportunity to build relationships with coaches. It's a long term process and as we recruits these guys now, a year, two years, three years from now they have to be on the field performing so it'll really make a difference when they see these guys on the field performing."

And that is the other side of the recruiting coin. Penn State can sell early playing time and the chance to build a program back to its former glory, but that has to happen.

Not to say Penn State has to win national titles in the next five years to keep recruiting successes going, but all a recruit really wants to do is win. You can recruit well on words alone for only so long. Sooner or later recruits will want to see results.

All in all, Penn State is visiting schools across the state, knocking on doors. As receiver's coach Josh Gattis, the Scout.com's Big Ten recruiter of the year, noted on Signing Day, there are coaches who said they hadn't had a Penn State assistant on their campus in years. That's an amazing thought when you consider the perceived pull Penn State once had in its own state.

So if Penn State is making this much ground in what appears to be the preliminary stages of laying a recruiting foundation, just imagine what it will look like when the whole house is built.

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