Penn State Football: James Franklin's Recruiting to-Do List Before Signing Day

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IJanuary 15, 2014

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The excitement over James Franklin's hire at Penn State will only last for so long, but that is unless Franklin does something special between now and the opening of spring football in about two months or so. 

One way to keep his name and that of Penn State in the spotlight will be hitting the recruiting trail hard and making national signing day on February 5 a memorable day. 

If Franklin is to do that, he will need a number of things to happen in the next three weeks. Luckily for Penn State, he's gained a reputation as a great recruiter, and he has built-in relationships up and down the mid-Atlantic region.

However, there are a few things that stand out above the rest that Franklin needs to do before national signing day. Call it a "to-do list" if you will. 

So, what should be on Franklin's to-do list between now and national signing day? Well, we've got the answers for you. 


Lock Up Thomas Holley

Coaches are like vultures, and any change or bad news can, and will be, used against you. That's especially the case for 5-star defensive tackle recruit Thomas Holley of New York. 

With longtime defensive line coach Larry Johnson moving on and the transition to Franklin's staff, priority No. 1 for said new staff is to lock up Holley's previous commitment to the Nittany Lions. 

The good news is that according to Lions247 (subscription required), Holley's commitment hasn't been affected just yet by Johnson's departure.

Franklin and Co. will have to fend off visits from Florida and Notre Dame, who could be a big player with the switch back to a 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. 

Losing Holley would be a massive blow to a class that had been shaping up to be perhaps the best of any during the sanctions era. Keeping him in the fold would really help Franklin and his staff gain some positive vibes going forward. 

UPDATE: Just moment after publishing this, Holley has reportedly decommitted from Penn State and given a verbal pledge to the Florida Gators, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247 Sports. 


Keeping Chris Godwin in the Fold

Regardless of what went down with the head coaching position, Allen Robinson was going to the NFL. He simply lit up the Big Ten and college football over the past two years. 

For Penn State and its limited numbers, missing that kind of talent can be a huge blow. That is unless you are recruiting well, and that's what PSU was up to before Bill O'Brien's departure. 

Franklin will have one 4-star recruit to work with for sure, as De'Andre Thompkins is on campus as an early enrollee. 

The Nittany Lions also received an early verbal commitment from 4-star wide receiver Chris Godwin early on in the recruiting cycle, but in replacing Robinson, the more numbers in the fold, the better the chance of finding that next star. 

Godwin, a 6'1", 193-pound recruit, already has the size to be a factor, and losing his commitment would hurt. 


Make Sure Flipped Vanderbilt Recruits Help Lead the Way 

Bosnan comes to Penn State from Vanderbilt
Bosnan comes to Penn State from Vanderbilt247sports

Franklin has an intense following on the recruiting trail, and that was on full display over this past weekend. In just three days, Franklin had three Vanderbilt recruits offered and committed at Penn State. 

Sure, it's common to have recruits follow a coach, but nothing about Penn State's recruiting abilities are common.

Franklin couldn't get all the players he truly wanted from Vanderbilt because of the lack of scholarships available. However, getting three players in less than 72 hours to commit says a lot about those players and Franklin as well. 

Now, the key will be using those three players as conduits to keeping everyone else on board heading into national signing day. 

Coaches can be powerful tools, but there's nothing like peer pressure and hearing what a coach is really like from your peers as well. 

Franklin has added 3-star offensive tackles Brendan Brosnan and Chance Sorrell, as well as defensive end Lloyd Tubman, as flips from Vanderbilt to Penn State. Sorell and Tubman flipped the day of Franklin's announcement at Penn State. 

Those three will be the keys to doing some of the work of bridging the gap with the original commits to the class and the coaching staff coming on board. 

So far, it appears as if Penn State won't be losing many recruits from the 2014 class who were committed before Franklin's hire, and with that, his job is made quite a bit easier. Franklin won't have to scramble around to find five or six more players to fill a full class, so his to-do list is rather small heading into national signing day. 

However, don't think Franklin's job is any less important over the next few weeks. What transpires will set the tone for his tenure in Happy Valley, and getting off on the right foot is very important to perception in recruiting and in the public.


*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. All recruiting information courtesy of 247sports. You can follow Andy on Twitter: @ andycoppens


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