Penn State's James Franklin Quickly Making Good on Promise to Own Pennsylvania

Andrew CoppensContributor IFebruary 27, 2014

Jan 11, 2014; State College, PA, USA; James Franklin is announced as the Penn State Nittany Lions new head coach during a press conference at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

"Our recruiting philosophy, we are going to dominate the state", said head coach James Franklin at his PSU introductory press conference. "We are going to dominate the state. We are going to dominate the region."

With those words, the newest head coach at Penn State set a tone we've all heard before. Honestly, what coach doesn't set the goal of dominating the area they are from in recruiting?

However, early returns suggest these was more than just words for Franklin, as he is already walking the walk after talking the talk.

Franklin's first full class at Penn State already has six verbal commitments, with four of them coming from the state of Pennsylvania.

More important than the raw numbers are who the players are. According to the state rankings, the Nittany Lions have already secured two commitments from top-10 players in Pennsylvania.

Jake Cooper is one of four early PSU commits from Pennsylvania.
Jake Cooper is one of four early PSU commits from Pennsylvania.Credit:

Chief among them is the No. 4-ranked player, offensive tackle Ryan Bates. Also already committed is the No. 7-ranked player in the state, running back Saquon Barkley.

With Bates in the fold as a verbal commitment, Franklin also was able to secure a verbal from Bates' high school teammate, 3-star linebacker Jake Cooper. Those two could be the cornerstones of what happens in the 2015 class from the state.

Not only are they teammates, but both are from the Philadelphia area. Given Franklin's roots in eastern Pennsylvania, having two commitments already from the area should give the Nittany Lions a lot of help. 

No other team currently has more committed players out of the state, and that includes in-state rival Pitt. Those are all great signs, especially given the tough nature of recruiting in a talent-rich state like Pennsylvania.

Franklin isn't unaware of just how difficult it is to recruit in his home state either, which makes what is happening early on even more impressive.

He made it clear at his introductory press conference that his plan was to have his coaches and everyone in the state working on the same page to combat the tough nature of recruiting in Pennsylvania.

I've worked a lot of different institutions that tried to compete. Recruiting against Penn State University was always an unbelievable challenge because this school has everything that young men are looking for. This school has everything that families are looking for. That is going to be our plan. I'm calling all the high school coaches. I'm calling all the people in the state that we need to come together like never before.

I think with everybody pulling the rope in the same direction there is no reason why we can't take this program where everybody wants it to be.

While it is early in the 2015 recruiting cycle, the commitments Franklin has been able to rack up since arriving at Penn State have been impressive. A quick start with some of the biggest names in the state can build some serious momentum throughout the rest of the cycle.

Securing some early commitments is nice, but the real test is about to come for Franklin and his staff. PSU is in a massive battle between Michigan, Ohio State, Pitt and themselves for 4-star offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins.

Winning that battle would go a long way to proving Franklin is indeed dominating the state, especially against the Big Ten recruiting giants that are Michigan and Ohio State.

Additionally, Penn State appears to have advantages and serious interest from three of the other four non-committed players in the top five of the state of Pennsylvania.

If it can win those battles or pull in two of those three, Franklin will have gone a long way in a short time to proving he means what he says.

This is just the start, and with the quick verbals Franklin and Co. have gotten, there is reason for the rest of the Big Ten to be very scared about what Penn State is going to be capable of for as long as he's at PSU.


Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for Big Ten football. All recruiting information courtesy You can follow Andy on Twitter @ andycoppens.