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Penn State Football: War Room A Celebration As Recruiting For 2015 Class Wraps Up

by on February 04, 2015 11:40 AM

The room was silent while the FaceTime call booted up on the four large television screens at the front of the gathering crowd. As the brightness adjusted on each of the TVs, suddenly Jarvis Miller's face was front and center in the Lasch Building war room.

"How you doing?" James Franklin said to the screen, with Miller smiling from ear to ear. "Let me say hi to your mom, how is she?"

Miller turned his phone, shifting the picture on all four big TVs to focus to his mother and then his father. Both said a few excited words to Franklin before Miller turned the attention back to himself.

Only a few moments stood between Miller and the end of a long trail of recruiting, phone calls, visits and important life choices. The three-star cornerback from Connecticut had sent in his National Letter of Intent earlier that morning. He was a Nittany Lion officially, but now it was just time to take that final celebratory step.

Women's soccer coach Erica Walsh had the honor of announcing Miller's official commitment. Each recruit was announced by a different member of the Penn State community. From the dance team to the band director, it's a goal to make the success of the program feel like a group effort. It demonstrates that Franklin understands that Penn State football doesn't succeed without the community around it, and as a result that community gets to enjoy at least some small part of ringing in that success.

Taking the podium, Walsh read her cue card announcing Miller as if Penn State had drafted him into the NFL even if the suspense was long gone. As she finished saying Miller's name and other particulars, the room that had been silent erupted into cheers. Trumpets played the fight song. Franklin moved the camera around the room for Miller to see and each of his assistants came in to say hello to Miller and congratulate him.

From there a magnetic card was placed on Penn State's large "draft board" to signify that Miller was the latest to send in his letter --the latest to join the family. His high school film played on two screens as tweets and photos and videos were sent out to the rest of the world. Miller may have "only" been a three star prospect, but you would have never known it based on how he was treated at that moment.

"What are your plans for the rest of the day?" Franklin asked after the room calmed down again.

"I plan on going to class, sir." Miller said smiling, his hat firmly fitting on to his head.

"That's the right answer." Franklin responded with a grin. A few congratulations later and Miller's face disappeared from the TV screens and ESPN's Signing Day coverage replaced him.

Throughout the morning that routine continued. Recruits called before school, from a lobby of a hotel, even a living room. Pittsburgh native John Petrishen called from his car. Franklin told him to pull over before they announced him to the world.

The routine repeated over and over. Calls, congratulations, announcements and cheers.

Between all of that, music played as food and conversation was passed around the packed room. It was a party atmosphere so early on a cold and cloudy Wednesday morning.

As Lady Gaga's "Edge Of Glory" played it was a fitting moment for Penn State's version of pomp and circumstance. For as often silly as the whole process looks, Wednesday was a celebration of a recruiting class that was hard earned. If Penn State is to return to so called glory it will take multiple classes like this one to get the job done.

So perhaps Franklin and his staff are not yet to the precipice of glory, but certainly Wednesday morning was a step forward for a program hopeful to put some distance between itself and the past several years.

Judging by how at home Franklin is on the recruiting trail, it's likely the first of many steps.

 

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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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