With the departure of Bill O’Brien to the NFL, Penn State University hired former Vanderbilt University Head Football Coach James Franklin as its new head coach and leader of the football program. Franklin, a Langhorne, Pennsylvania, native, was quoted during his introductory press conference as saying he is a “Pennsylvania boy, with a Pennsylvania heart.” After graduating from Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Franklin played quarterback at East Stroudsburg University from 1991 through 1994 and was named Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Quarterback of the Year during this time. He also set seven school records, and was nominated for Division II Player of the Year honors during his senior campaign in ‘94. After graduating from ESU Franklin proceeded to launch his coaching career at Kutztown University in 1995 as wide receiver coach. Franklin would return to East Stroudsburg University for the 1996 season as the defensive backs/secondary coach, further supporting his claim that he is indeed a “Pennsylvania boy, with a Pennsylvania heart.”
While some recruits for the upcoming class have decommitted, other promising Penn State prospects have emerged. Franklin was known as a recruiting superstar during his stint with Vanderbilt University, where he turned a struggling program around. In a very tough conference, Franklin’s record at Vanderbilt was an impressive 24–15, and during his tenure the Commodores made three bowl appearances, posting a 2–1 record in those post-season contests. Franklin has demonstrated he can solidify a weaker program like Vanderbilt’s, and will aim to bring renewed vigor to Penn State, where the school must still endure two more years of NCAA sanctions resulting from the Sandusky scandal.
As the players and fans prepare to start the upcoming 2014 season with a second head coach in only three years, one thing is for certain: James Franklin is an extremely loyal and strong-willed individual who can overcome all the obstacles that will present themselves to the new commander of the Lions. Franklin’s debut will occur on August 30 as Penn State squares off against the University of South Florida in Dublin, Ireland, at Croke Park.