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While Nobody Can Go Anywhere, Penn State Is Having Its Best April-May Recruiting Stretch Ever Under James Franklin

by on May 07, 2020 2:00 PM

It was early March when [motions at the world] began happening. The NCAA Tournament was canceled, the NBA was canceled, everything was canceled. 

And Penn State football had two verbal commitments in its 2021 class. Fast forward to early May and the Nittany Lions have pulled in nine total verbal commitments over that span. No fancy visits, no red carpet, no summer camps or visits to see spring practice, the Blue White game or anything in State College.

Just some Zoom calls and the efforts of relationship building.

“We have the ability with these Zoom calls to really try to give the student-athlete and their family a similar type of experience,” Penn State coach James Franklin said earlier in the week. “What I mean by that is if they have academic questions, we’ll do a Zoom call with our academic staff. If they have a lot of questions about strength and conditioning, we’ll do a Zoom call with our strength staff.”

Franklin does about four Zoom calls a night, for the uninitiated, Zoom is the video conference call software of the moment, not exceptionally different than say Skype, but the most popular option in a quarantined world. So Franklin powers up the laptop and gets underway calling.

The good news for Penn State and really every program in America is that so much is already out in the world to be seen. You don't really have to step foot inside the Lasch Building to see it, and anyone with Google can check out Beaver Stadium. Of course it's not the same, but the playing field is level for everyone stuck inside.

“We are in a situation now where there is more available information, resources, and things through the internet, through computers, through Zoom meetings, and tours that you’re able to get done and able to get a lot of information,” Franklin said.

The funny part for Penn State, is that this span of recruiting has been the best commitment stretch of April and May since Franklin took over the job. Certainly many different factors play into the timeline of a class, but it's fitting that in a world that leans on flash and big impressions to swing recruits, Penn State's best early spring commitment stretch has happened from home.

Sure there are prior relationships and prior visits in a pre-COVID-19 world to reflect on, but there is an element of old school recruiting and salesmanship that comes from a new school technology. Maybe it never needed to be that fancy in the first place. Of course don't expect a few months at home to stop the college football arm's race in its path.

“I read an article this morning about [recruiting],” Franklin added. “There was an article that came out this morning about the number of commitments nationally compared to over the past four years. It’s way up. Obviously, this COVID-19 pandemic that we’re going through is having an impact.”

April and May commitments:

  • 2021: 8 [Penn State also had one commitment in March post COVID-19 cancelations which you could add to this to make it 9]
  • 2020: 3
  • 2019: 6
  • 2018: 2
  • 2017: 4 
  • 2016: 4
  • 2015: 3
  • 2014: 5


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