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Coach Franklin: Penn State target of negative recruiting

| Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, 11:21 a.m.
Penn State coach James Franklin offers encouragement in the second half against Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State coach James Franklin offers encouragement in the second half against Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015, in University Park.
Penn State coach James Franklin watches the action during the Blue-White spring game Saturday, April 18, 2015, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Penn State coach James Franklin watches the action during the Blue-White spring game Saturday, April 18, 2015, at Beaver Stadium in University Park.

With signing day coming up Feb. 3, Penn State coach James Franklin said recent staff and player departures are being used by other programs against his own as ammunition in recruiting.

“I don't think there's any doubt that we've been getting a lot of negative recruiting,” Franklin said Saturday, speaking to the media for the first time since the TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia on Jan. 2.

“It's kind of been that way since we arrived, about Penn State, about some of the challenges that we've been through.”

Franklin said it helped that the new hires — offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, offensive line coach Matt Limegrover and co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Tim Banks — quickly made contact with recruits and their families.

No recruits have backed out of their commitments in reaction to the turnover, and one prominent recruit — running back Miles Sanders from Woodland Hills — last week restated his commitment to Penn State.

“We spend our time focused on Penn State,” Franklin said. “A lot of other schools approach it in a different way.

“A lot of it, to be honest with you, is that a strong Penn State makes it really difficult for a lot of other programs in this region.

“There are a lot of people that their backgrounds and their success is on the line.

:If Penn State's not successful, it's gonna help a lot of those programs be successful.”

Heading into his third season, Franklin, as during the first two, repeated the themes of progress and stability.

He came armed with research.

For example, he said, Penn State is one of just eight FBS programs with winning records in each of the past 11 seasons.

“We're excited about that, and we're proud of that,” he said. “We're working really, really hard to build a program here that will be able to sustain long-term success. But that takes vision, and that takes time.

“We're committed to building this program the right way. I think you guys have heard me say that all the way from the opening press conference.

“When you build things the right way, there needs to be time. There needs to be people who understand the vision and the direction we're going.

“We're not going to take any short cuts in anything we do.”

Despite dealing with NCAA sanctions, successive 7-6 seasons and the recent departures, Franklin said the program is on the right track.

“I was told by the administration and the previous staff that everyone has recognized that Years 3 and 4 of the sanctions are gonna be the most difficult,” he said.

“If you take the emotion out of it and get a piece of paper out and write down all the challenges we have had as an organization, as an institution and as a football program, if you did it that way we're probably ahead.”

Franklin added, “As coaches and fans, we always want more, and we will always strive for more, but in terms of the facts, it probably makes a whole lot of sense right now where we're at and where we're going.”

Regarding the departures of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and offensive line coach Herb Hand for Tennessee and Auburn, respectively, “I think you're always a little surprised. You're always a little hurt,” Franklin said. “(But) our coaches get opportunities. They get offers.”

Asked about quarterback Christian Hackenberg's apparent snub when announcing his intention to turn pro, Franklin said Hackenberg called him the next day, and they had “a great conversation.”

Franklin said he is sure Hackenberg “is gonna go on and do great things.”

On the matter of Hackenberg's replacement, Franklin said despite Trace McSorley's strong showing in the TaxSlayer Bowl, the competition is open at quarterback and at every other position heading into spring practice.

Bob Cohn is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter@BCohn_Trib.

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