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Recruits are following new football coach Franklin to Penn State

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Paternos weigh in

Sue Paterno, widow of former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, issued a statement on behalf of her family welcoming James Franklin as the school's new football coach.

“His deep ties to Pennsylvania and his exceptional coaching record have prepared him well for his new position,” the statement read. “We wish Coach Franklin great success, and we know he will find broad support and encouragement from Penn Staters everywhere.”

Franklin said during his introductory news conference that he “has tremendous respect for Joe Paterno.” He said he was “honored to be joining a long line of great coaches with Bob Higgins, Rip Engle, the great Joe Paterno, success with honor.” He then repeated, “The great Joe Paterno and success with honor.”

— Chris Adamski

Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, 9:48 p.m.

James Franklin became a rising star in coaching in large part because of his recruiting prowess. It didn't take long for him to show that as Penn State coach.

Within 24 hours of being introduced as Nittany Lions coach, Franklin secured two verbal commitments for the Class of 2014 and compelled one of Penn State's top preexisting recruits to stick with the school.

After being in a wait-and-see mode since former coach Bill O'Brien left for the Houston Texans, quarterback Michael O'Connor on Sunday posted on his Twitter account, “100% committed to PSU!! Wouldn't wanna be anywhere else in the country, feels good to be done with recruiting. Start college classes tmrw.”

O'Connor, a native of Canada who moved south to seek better instruction and competition, attended IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Rated as a four-star prospect by, O'Connor would be an early enrollee. The spring term begins Monday.

Penn State has an established quarterback in Christian Hackenberg, who is the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year. But he was the only quarterback on the roster who was either on scholarship or had thrown a pass in a college game. O'Connor had planned to redshirt this coming season, but that was under the previous staff's plans.

Offensive tackle Chance Sorrell and defensive tackle Lloyd Tubman on Saturday used Twitter to announce they would follow Franklin. Sorrell, a three-star prospect from Middletown, Ohio, and Tubman, a three-star recruit from Louisville, Ky., had committed to Vanderbilt.

The addition of Sorrell and Tubman bumped Penn State's class ranking from No. 24 to No. 16 — and dropped Vanderbilt 14 spots to No. 40. And Franklin might not be done raiding his former school.

Brothers Emmanuel and Josh Smith of Murfreesboro, Tenn., also received Penn State offers Saturday. Emmanuel Smith, a four-star defensive back in the 2014 class, already verbally committed to Vanderbilt. Josh Smith is a 2015 four-star linebacker who has been offered a scholarship by the Commodores.

“We've got a lot of work to do in a very, very short period of time,” Franklin said Saturday. “And it's time sensitive because of the recruiting process.”

The flow of recruits could go both ways. Penn State's highest-rated recruit by Rivals — New York City defensive tackle Thomas Holley — was close to interim coach Larry Johnson and has yet to assert he is sticking with Penn State.

Note: Franklin held a team meeting Sunday night, and all noteworthy players, including early enrollees, attended, a source said. In addition to O'Connor, other early enrollees this spring include receiver De'Andre Thompkins, defensive tackle Antoine White, junior-college defensive tackle Tarow Barney and offensive tackle Chasz Wright.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.




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