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Penn State Football: Signing Day Hype Easy Display Of Changing Program

by on February 02, 2015 2:00 PM

It wasn't too long ago that Signing Day at Penn State was something of a chore.

That's not to suggest it didn't matter, but the excitement and the pomp and circumstance wasn't there.

The faxes came in, the soon-to-be Nittany Lions' Letters of Intent went through compliance and that was that.

A few intrepid reporters would find out from their "sources" that everything went smoothly and if any new names had joined the ranks. Maybe a news release, but not much more.

Other than the occasional Signing Day decision by a top recruit, it was just another day in State College. If you didn't know it was happening, you would have never guessed that it was.

Those times are long gone.

Wednesday will mark the second signing day under James Franklin and oh, how the tweets will fly -- the photos and the phone calls making the rounds on social media. In Franklin 's first year, representatives from around campus stopped by the Lasch Building to announce each time a recruit signed on the dotted line. Names and photos lined a big board to show how far the class was from finally becoming official. The NFL Draft without the drama.

The fax machines still hummed and the phones still rang off their now digital hook, but there is little doubt that signing day has a new importance to the program's outward persona. If anything it's the kind of self congratulatory PR that has helped turn recruiting into the circus that it is.

Whatever the reason, it's hard to deny that the push to make the entire process more public has done anything but help Penn State. This year's edition will be a Top 15 or Top 10 (depending whom you ask) recruiting class that brings in top talent from across the state and national recognition as the second best in the Big Ten. Penn State has recruited well, long before the invention of Twitter, but it rarely spared the 140 characters to really make that recruiting success a big deal.

Leaving the fax machines behind, Franklin will take to Rec Hall across campus to play highlights and talk film about the 20+ incoming Nittany Lions in front of a crowd that's expected to include a few thousand fans. The so called "Signature Event" is a showcase of players who will largely not see the field until the ink on their Letters of Intent has dried and sat in a file for an upwards of two years. Their impact will undoubtedly be felt down the road, even more so as the program recovers from scholarship restrictions.

Nevertheless, if you're looking for something simple to showcase how much Penn State has changed in the past few years, you needn't look farther than signing day.  

And if you can't make it to town, that's just fine. Penn State is one of 14 schools to have their recruiting success broadcast to the world via ESPN's National Signing Day Special from 8 a.m until 7 p.m. including an on-site reporter who will give you the latest updates.

If it all sounds a little silly, that's because it is, but so is the idea of using a fax machine in 2015.

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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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